What would you say if you were asked to finish the following sentence:
“Retirement is like ________________?”
Would your answer be?: Retirement is like a ticking time bomb or more like the answer to your prayers? It is like having a clean slate where all your problems are wiped away? Or a blank slate where anything is possible? Is it like receiving a gift that keeps on giving? Or carrying a weight around your neck?
There are countless ways you can answer that question and each of them evokes a different kind of imagery and emotional energy.
We often use metaphors to explain or communicate a concept by likening it to something else. Our familiarity with one thing allows us to understand the other. Coaches use metaphors as a tool to help people visualize or re-frame an issue, belief, or feeling.
So, take a moment to think about how you describe retirement. What would you liken it to? What metaphors would you use?
Next, consider how those metaphors developed. What and who influenced them? Did you learn them from family, friends, colleagues, or retirees you know? Do they accurately portray today’s retirement or are they old and outdated? Do they leave you feeling positive and optimistic or anxious and concerned about what retirement will bring?
Your responses can either help you to approach your retirement as if they are your best years, or your worst. By developing empowering metaphors, while avoiding less-than-meaningful thoughts and ideas, new and future retirees can better prepare themselves for a smooth transition into every aspect of retirement.
One metaphor you may want to consider is retirement is like marriage. You have to grow into it and adjust along the way. Just as you could never have your entire married life planned on the day of your wedding, you can’t plan for every aspect of retirement on the day you retire. Retirement is a process that people have to adapt to over time.
What will your retirement metaphor be?