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  • Larry Gard

Retiring? Don’t Forget to Close the Door and Say Goodbye

wound section of rope tied securely to a dock

My esteemed colleagues, Jack Beauregard and Paul Cronin, taught me that transitioning into retirement without exiting your old life can feel like starting a sailing journey with your boat still tied to the dock.  That’s not to say that you can’t exit gradually, but it does mean that fully embracing your next chapter will be easier if you’ve extricated yourself emotionally from your previous job. 


That may be tougher than you think.  Here are a couple of reasons why you could find yourself feeling emotionally stuck and unable to transition smoothly:


1.     You have unresolved feelings about the circumstances surrounding your exit.  Perhaps your role was changed or you didn’t mesh with your new boss.  There are lots of disagreeable situations that can lead one to retire, but they’re bound to stir up emotions whether we’re consciously aware of them or not.  Well-intentioned friends might tell you to “move on”, but until you’ve fully sorted through those emotions, they can hold you back.  How can you “close the door” so that those feelings don’t continue to affect you?  By honestly acknowledging them, examining your role in how things played out around your exit, and considering what those feelings can teach you about yourself. 


2.     You never really took the time to say goodbye.  I’m not talking about the farewell conversations you have, important as those are.  I’m referring to the internal process of taking stock of your years at work, a process not altogether different from grieving. How do you feel about your accomplishments, your contributions, your missed opportunities, your colleagues, and your clients?  What will you miss, and what are you content to let go of?  What are you losing, and what do you want in its place?   


If you’re having difficulty identifying a meaningful new direction as you transition into retirement, be sure to ask yourself if you’re still tied to the dock of your old life.


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