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Retirement should be a time to celebrate a life well lived. Like a hard-earned, well deserved perma-vacation. That’s not to say we suggest this is the time to jet somewhere warm and lie on the beach all day. Unless, of course, being a “snowbird” who flies south to avoid our chilly Canadian winters is your thing! But that is precisely the point: Retirement is your time, to spend how you’ve always wanted. It’s the time to celebrate your individuality by fully embracing who you are you, what you love, when, and how to unleash it.

Where to begin? The benefits of blue sky brainstorming

Maybe your daily routine has been nine-to-five for as long as you can remember, or you’ve had other responsibilities to fill the days. Perhaps some of those are carrying over into your official retirement—whether it’s familial obligations like helping with grandkids, or a volunteer position. But most of the time, retirement frees up more hours in the day for you to explore your passions.

Step One: Begin with a “blue sky brainstorm”. This is literally brainstorming with no limits—not even the sky! What are all the things you love to do and have always wanted to do? Do not consider practical constraints at this stage. Jot down everything and anything.

Consider questions like:

·     What are my strengths?

·     What do I like to do for fun?

·     What is something (a class, an activity, a hobby) I’ve always wanted to do but never had the time for?

·     What matters most to me in my current life?

·     What are my values?

·     What (or who) gives me comfort?

·     What did I like about my job?

·     Am I an introvert or extrovert?

Step Two: Reflect! That last question might feel like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised. Consider your current social life but also the one you’d like to have. Maybe it’s a core group of friends you prefer even though your social circle seems wide based on work or other circumstances. Where—and into whom would you like to put your time? Also consider the type of people in your current circle and how well they know the real you. Sometimes, it’s okay to be grateful to people for the time they’ve spent in your life and move forward if certain friendships aren’t continuing to serve your wellbeing. Remember: Now is your time! Are the people and activities currently in your life helping you be your best, or holding you back from what you want to do and who you really are?

Time is our most precious gift; to each other, and to ourselves. How will you spend yours?

Step Three: Once you’ve reflected—a practice that is beneficial to the mind, body and spirit daily—on where you are and where you want to go, join that yoga class or try a creative pursuit! Start practicing mindful living to feel into how your body and mind respond. Is the fear of trying something new a little thrill that grows with anticipation and turns into something wonderful once you lean into it? Or do you truly not enjoy it? Once you start listening to your inner voice, you’ll begin to feel more aligned in life and your individuality will shine through in all that you do, say, and are.  

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