By Megan Giles, Retirement Transition Consultant. This article first appeared on The Visible Woman website [Link: www.thevisiblewoman.com.au].
For some women the arrival of retirement is a wonderful time. It provides the opportunity to take that trip of a lifetime and to tick items off a dream list. For others, however, the transition into retirement can be more challenging and can strike at our very core – our purpose and identity. Questions can arise such as ‘who am I without my work’ and ‘what is my contribution to the world without work’.
If you’ve read the article Am I Worthy of Being Visible, you may have taken the time to stop and recognise the milestones and feats you have already achieved in life through work and in your personal life. These are existing reasons as to why you should feel worthy of being visible as you age - from triumphs to challenges overcome and lessons learned. I truly hope that you were bold and created an extensive list of reasons, because there is so much to celebrate within all of us.
But what about visibility in life after work – how do you harness the opportunities that retirement presents to share your value with others? What do you do with the unique experiences, skills and expertise you possess, the ones we want to celebrate? With the current life expectancy for women in Australia reaching into the mid-80s, retirement provides a wonderful opportunity for women to be visible and make a meaningful contribution to the people and community around them.
One way to think about visibility is to consider the legacy you want to leave behind. That is how you will be remembered by those around you.
If you’re worried that you’ve left it too late to have a meaningful impact on the people around you or are daunted by the perception that women should gracefully fade into the background as they age, the good news is that there is never a wrong time to build your legacy. As women entering retirement tend to be healthy, active and switched on, it presents a fantastic opportunity to contribute to the world around us and say ‘I was here, I mattered, and I made a difference’.
“Life is a story. Make yours a bestseller! ”
— Angela Vassallo
Often when we think about legacy we think only about tangible items, such as an inheritance or bequeath and therefore we can be quick to dismiss the notion. It is not necessary, however, to earn one million dollars (or whatever arbitrary figure you choose) to be worthy of creating a legacy. In fact there are many ways that require only your time and a willingness to share your story, experience and passion.
Below are three simple ways that you can build a meaningful legacy, through making your journey and experience visible to others.
1. Share your story with the people who matter most.
Too often as women we put the needs of others first, celebrating their wins and comforting them through challenges. What about your journey? Have your children or grandchildren heard the tales of your adventures (and maybe misadventures!), some of which may be before their time? To make your mark and for your legacy to live on you need to share it with others.
2. Mentor others.
Consider the skills, experience and expertise you possess. How you can pass these on for others to learn and grow? Whilst you may feel doubtful as to how much value you can offer 20 or 30-somethings in this digital era, you may just surprise yourself. The reality is that you don’t need to be technologically savvy to offer a fresh perspective in solving a problem or to help them develop negotiation skills. This doesn’t need to be a formal arrangement, simply the sharing of your experience when the opportunity presents itself.
3. Raise the visibility of the causes most important to you.
Explore how your time, energy and/or voice can help your chosen charity. There are so many ways to volunteer, such as a joining the board of a not-for-profit organisation, contributing specific expertise such as HR or marketing skills, building schools overseas, or supporting one-off events. Without a doubt there is a service or organisation looking for someone just like you, so be inquisitive and find the right fit for you, your skills and passions.
Each and every day we have the opportunity to share and help others. By stepping up, standing out and sharing what you have to offer you can have a significant, positive impact on the people and community around you!
If you approaching retirement or starting to think about it, and worried about the "what's next', wondering:
- How you’ll stay relevant and connected to people
- What to do with the amazing skills, energy and ideas you have
- How to prevent slowing down too soon and getting old before your time
you may be interested in a one-on-one or workshop-based planning session. I would love the opportunity to work with you and you can find all of the details on the For Individuals page.
You may also be interested in the following blogs; Is Fear Stopping You Actioning Your Retirement Dreams and Health Focus: Why Yoga is for Everyone – Especially Those Approaching Retirement! .