Six questions for 2018

What do I still want to accomplish?

Accomplishments should not stop when we stop working. As this New Year begins, take time to identify something worth spending your time accomplishing this year. It could be something you want to do, be, or have. It doesn’t have to be complicated or cost a lot of money. You could read or reread classic books, learn a new language, perfect cooking a favorite dish, or visit all the state parks in your state. Checking off an accomplishment is quite satisfying – especially if that accomplishment is something we set aside as we pursued our career like completing a degree, learning to paint, or restoring a classic car.

Who can I share my time and talent with?

According to happiness expert and Harvard professor Shawn Achor, the more meaningful our relationships, the happier we are. Sharing our time and talent accomplishes two things: 1) it allows us to continue to use and develop the skills, abilities, and talents we developed over our working lives and 2) sharing those skills, abilities, and talents, allow us to develop relationships with those with whom we share them. Doing for others makes us feel good about ourselves. Reaching out to others is the enemy of isolation. Learning new skills gives us new opportunities to share and connect.

When will I forgive myself and others?

Forgiveness is often misunderstood. When we forgive, we do not say that what happened was or is okay. We do say we are no longer going to be shackled to what happened in the past and drag it into our present. When we forgive we consciously disconnect from the event and change our emotions around what has happened. Being angry at someone or something that has happened in the past keeps us stuck. I’m not saying that being angry is inappropriate. We do ourselves a disservice when we stuff our emotions and don’t express them. But getting stuck in the anger, disappointment, fear, or other negative emotions isn’t going to change anything. If those emotions could change the outcome, it already would have. Choosing to let something go and truly letting it go is liberating and empowering.

What and who is important to me?

When we stop working, people erroneously assume you have lots of free time. They may also assume you would like nothing better than to do what they would like you to do with your “free” time. This phase of life is a no-nonsense phase of life. The time you have is yours to choose what to do with and whom to spend it with While I know lots of people, I am much more selective about who I let into my life these days and how much time I spend with them. I am no longer to spend my time with people whom I find emotionally draining. This means that some friends (and family members) I have known for decades are no longer in my life. That works for me.

When will I do that?

This is a popular time of year to set goals and make proclamations about what you’re going to do with this year. But if you don’t schedule time to do what you say you want to do, it’s not going to happen. For years I avoided setting goals mostly because I didn’t believe I would accomplish them. What I discovered is that often I didn’t accomplish goals because they were goals I thought I should want, not goals I really wanted. Every year I set a goal to lose weight. But the reality is I like to eat and I enjoy cooking. I set a different goal this year – to accept myself as I am and know that being overweight doesn’t make me a bad person.

What’s next for me?

This is my favorite question because the answer is anything I want it to be! For me personally, what’s next is expanding the Your Countdown to Retirement program by offering weekly webinars and individual coaching. It’s an honor and a privilege to work with boomers who are contemplating what’s next for them after they stop working. I believe this is a very special time for my generation – an opportunity to get it right, make a difference, fulfill our potential, and leave a worthy legacy. I hope you’ll join me on this journey.

Kathryn Avery

About Kathryn Avery

When Kathryn Severns Avery’s husband, Chris, began contemplating retirement in 2014, she knew they had to quickly come up with a multi-faceted plan. They spent the next year discussing, sometimes heatedly, what they would do once he stopped working. On paper their plan looked exciting. They would head from Colorado to the 1891 sea captain’s house they bought and renovated in Rockland on Maine’s midcoast. But the reality of planning and implementing retirement was much different than expected. Kathryn has worked in radio, television, marketing, and public relations. She is the author of five books and has written articles on interior design and crafts for national and regional publications including Romantic Homes, Log Homes Illustrated, The Rocky Mountain News and Colorado Homes and Lifestyles.