Why (And How) You Should “Practice Retirement”

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While on a recent leadership retreat, I listened to a fellow attendee talk about how he is “practicing for retirement.”

We’ve all heard the quotes and thoughts about how you shouldn’t wait until the end of your life to do the things you want to do. But, I’ve never heard retirement framed as a practice. It’s a genius concept — and one I’m currently practicing and encourage you to try, also. Let’s explore the topic a little more.

practice retirement

Why Practice Retirement?

As part of my effort to help people create moments that matter (see my free worksheet for more on this), I often encourage people to try experiments.  Think you want to spend more time creating art?  Try it, see how it feels.  Want to travel more?  Squeeze an extra trip or two into your schedule, see if you enjoy it.

Here’s the thing about moments that matter: they can look good on paper, but in practice sometimes they aren’t quite as good of a fit.  It’s particularly easy in this era of Instagram to see other people’s life experiences and say, I want some of that.  But often, we don’t know what we actually want — and having a taste can be very informative.

This has happened to me lots of times; for example, when I was in college I always wanted to travel all the time and not be attached to one location (“location independent”).  I then had a job where I traveled 50 weeks a year.  It was good, but I also realized it was too much and I actually want freedom with a home base I can retreat to.  I couldn’t have come to that clear conclusion without having experimented.

Retirement is Just the Metaphor

Here’s the thing about this concept:  retirement is just the metaphor.  We think of retirement as that point in life where we are free of obligation, where we’ve put in our efforts and now it’s time to reap the rewards.  But, what if you could find opportunities throughout your entire life to find freedom and reward?  Why wait until you’re retired to create those memories?!

Practicing retirement = practicing living a good life = practicing being the best version of yourself = practicing creating moments that matter.

It’s all the same thing, viewed from a different lens.

Ideas for Practicing Retirement

Ok, now that we’ve cleared up the why, let’s focus on the how.  Here are three specific ideas on how to practice being retired.

  • Create a “Retirement” Day each week/month.  Put it on your calendar; on this day, you are retired.  Remove as many obligations as possible.  What will fill your free day?
  • Take it to your journal.  Here’s your prompt:  If I retired today, I would…
  • Talk about it with your partner/friends.  I find that this concept makes a thoughtful conversation starter for parties and tea-for-two time.  Tell your friends about your experiment and encourage them to try it, too. Share your ideas about what retirement looks like — and then see how you could have those “retirement-y things” right now.

It’s never too early to start living like you’re retired (at least part of the time!).

Why (And How) You Should "Practice Retirement"

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