Living a SMART life

If you took a business class or worked in business within the last 35 years you’ve probably heard the term SMART (i.e. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-based) goals.

I have personally used this acronym to write many a strategic plan in my career, so it’s kind of embedded in my brain. The definitions for each word in the acronym have varied slightly over the years depending on the newest thought leader/business fad, but it wasn’t until recently that I came across one that so aptly relates to retirement.

It’s call the SMART life. The acronym stands for Sustainable, Meaningful, Aware, Responsible, and Thankful and provides a fitting template for guiding the transition into this phase of our life. It focuses on ‘rightsizing’ your life. Not downsizing – rightsizing.

So what exactly is rightsizing?

According to Kathy Gottberg, author of Rightsizing: A SMART Living 365 Guide To Reinventing Retirement:

Rightsizing is the conscious choice to reinvent a lifestyle that more closely fits you and your family in the best possible manner at every stage of life… Rightsizing helps us design a life that lets us spend our time and resources on whatever is most important to us. And best of all, rightsizing is about discovering what gives our life meaning, makes us smile, and allows us to sleep well and deeply every single night.

While you could adopt this type of lifestyle at any stage of your life, doing it as you are about to enter your retirement years seems like a natural fit. As part of the transition to retirement, many baby boomers are reflecting on their life and legacy and becoming more aware of what’s really important to them. Some are redefining what they once deemed a ‘successful’ life – i.e. big title, big home, nice car, lots of stuff – and focusing on designing a life that is more sustainable, socially responsible and filled with gratitude – all of which provides them with a greater sense of meaning.

If that describes the kind of life you want, you may wish to consider some questions that will help you to ‘rightsize’ the different arenas of your life.

Career:   Is work providing you with the same sense of fulfillment it once was? Do you feel you have a good work/life balance? Do you know who you are without a title? Do you want to continue to work/contribute in some way?

Finances:  How does your attitude about money serve you today? How much is enough? Do you feel confident that you have a financial nest egg that will support you through retirement?

Family/Relationships:  Are your relationships with your partner and/or family sound? How might they change in retirement?

Health/Wellness:  What is the state of your overall well-being? Are you healthy in mind, body, and spirit?  Do you practice good self-care to sustain your health?

Leisure/Social:  Do you have interests/hobbies that you currently enjoy or want to         pursue? What is the most central motivation in your life right now? Are                               there daily avenues to connect with others outside of your work?

Personal Development: Where do you find personal meaning? What brings you joy? Will     that change in retirement? What are your strengths and how will they show up in retirement?

If you don’t have the life you want right now, maybe it’s time to ‘rightsize’ so you can live what constitutes your version of the SMART life in your retirement. Proactively planning for how to achieve it will make the transition that much smoother.


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