Best-selling author, Netflix star, and professional organizer Marie Kondo has sparked a movement to declutter your home with a powerful style and simple approach. All of which, centers around one basic questions: “Does this bring you joy?”
I’ve personally watched the show and seen the impact it can have. A few weeks back, my wife re-organized our entire basement, while my teen-age step-son cleared out his closet. I have to admit, I was not only shocked with the timing and precision in which they accomplished their tasks, but I was also a little jealous of how it made them feel.
Both shared that it wasn’t easy, clutching each and every item as they debated whether to keep something, donate it, or throw it out. However, when they were done, they remarked how great it felt to see the process through, including a healthy donation pile that will give others joy.
This got me to thinking, can a simple question about “Joy” be applied to the concept of retirement? It’s interesting to consider the many possibilities as well as how it could help in key areas such as work, relationships, and life in retirement.
So, let me start by asking you, “What brings you joy at work?” Obviously, you can’t take all of your work-related items, through them in a pile, and hold each one as you ask this question. However, what you can do, is make a list of the things that give you satisfaction.
This is important because too often people make work the enemy of retirement. Like they are on opposites sides of each other and competing for your time and energy. But work isn’t a bad thing. You may really enjoy your co-workers, appreciate deadlines, or like to mentor others.
Therefore, by writing down what you love about work, you can start developing a plan to replace those things when you make your transition. People who don’t find replacements can end up with a bunch of thoughts and feelings that they can’t sort through, leaving them wondering why their retirement doesn’t look and feel the way they thought it would.
Along a similar line, you can apply the KonMari method to your friends and colleagues by asking, “Who brings me joy?” Now I’m not suggesting that you rely on others to bring you happiness, but rather to begin to categorize (or organize) your relationships in such a way that you can evaluate your social network.
The people you surround yourself with in retirement can be one of the most important factors that dictates how well you make the transition. Long-standing research and ongoing studies suggest that people with strong, supportive networks tend to be healthier and live longer than others. As a result, those of you who are nearing retirement should take concrete steps to spend more time and energy with the people that bring you joy. Emphasizing to them that they are important to you and an essential part your overall retirement plan.
Another key area to consider, is how you will use your time in retirement. There are a lot of options including volunteering, part-time work, starting a business, watching the grand kids, rekindling a hobby, or going back to school, to name a few.
At first, it can feel refreshing to start or do something new, but there can be some hazards. New retirees can end up feeling trapped or guilty about the situation if it doesn’t turn out like they expected. They may have planned to volunteer for a certain organization but find that the work isn’t rewarding. Or maybe they planned to spend more time with the grand kids, but now they are regretting it because they have become a full-time nanny.
They expected this situation to help them replace the things they lost at work or anticipated it would give them a new sense of pride and joy, but it hasn’t… and they feel stuck.
It’s a situation very similar to how someone may feel when they are sorting through their clothes and see a shirt, or jeans with the tags still on it. At one point, that item may have sparked some joy, but it never made it out of the closet or drawer. You can feel stuck because you feel guilty about not wearing it, but at the same time, it’s just not resonating with you. Making the real opportunity here, to put it in the donation pile and let someone else find joy with it.
It’s the same with opportunities and projects in retirement. It’s important to avoid feeling bad or guilty for something you thought would bring you joy but doesn’t any more. Now, I’m not suggesting you walk out of your part-time job, volunteer gig, or give up babysitting your grand kids every day, but rather come to terms with how each of these things fit into your life in retirement and making adjustments as you go.
While applying some aspects of the KonMari method to your retirement can be a great place to start, it may also be beneficial to consider hiring a Certified Retirement Coach to help you sort it all out. Some of the more personal things that people hold onto, or that build up, may go much deeper than these initial questions.
In any event, I hope this article sparks joy for your life in retirement!