How To Make The Most of Your Retirement

So. You’ve just retired, or are planning to soon. What a tremendous accomplishment!

Go You! 


It’s not uncommon to hear someone say,

 “I’m working towards retirement.” 


“I’ll enjoy my life when I retire.”


“I’ll go to Europe once I’ve finally retired.”

In Fact, it’s not unusual for someone to invest the majority of their life’s time, energy, and priorities into the uncertain promise of

“When I retire…” 

Without question, in the Western world, we’re encouraged to live out of balance. 

The obligations of work, pressures for financial security, the desire for success and legacy, and the pursuit of purpose lead us to neglect quality time. We’ll brush aside what’s most valuable to us, postpone family time, hobbies, travel, friendships, and rest for the belief that one day, all of this sacrifice will be repaid by a three-week Alaskan cruise.

Well, if you’re one of the millions that has banked your hopes on “one day,” 

you want to be dang sure that now that “one day” is here, you make the absolute most of it. 

And you can.

Retirement can be one of the best times in your life. 

Or it can slip by, wasted. 

Time is slippery and it can glide through our fingertips years at a time if we’re not paying attention. Intentional living is the best defense for this.

You want to get into the habit of routinely making choices you mean and can embody.

Whatever your retirement plan is, you need to get clear on your trajectory and you need to make some decisions about what you want, who and how you want to be, and how you want to contribute.

You need to be the leader of your retirement. 

Great news for Type As! You can make a full-time occupation of planning how to enjoy your retirement, right down to the kind of marmalade you’ll have on your afternoon croissant. 

If you’re the more laidback type and prefer to go with the flow, you’ll still need to make some big-picture decisions about how you want to spend your time. 

No matter your personality type, there are endless opportunities for immense highs, as well as serious pitfalls once you retire. 

You have freedom, abundant time, and endless opportunities to enjoy your hobbies, relationships, and create new experiences and memories! My gosh, that’s wonderful! A bounty of joyful moments and happiness!

But hold your horses there, lassie! Let’s not get swept away by the currents of fresh liberty. The dark side of freedom is boredom, feeling lost, and having no parameters or boundaries. The vastness of an open calendar with only one lunch date and three doctor appointments for the whole month can leave you with a sense of uncalm. 

Let’s also acknowledge the pressure of using your time well. When you don’t have a built-in work schedule, you have hours upon hours to fill so you don’t become a total slug who watches and rewatches all of the glass-blowing reality competition series on Netflix.

It’s a lot of work to feel productive without work! Not to mention, the claustrophobic feeling of time rushing away, speeding even, when life is idle. 

I’ve got two ways to say this- the rough way, or the gentle way. 

Please choose your adventure:

The Rough Version:

Retirement can be a magical, fulfilling, exhilarating time where you can live your life on your terms and expand who you are. 

Or you can make the mistake of being passive, and let life happen without much input from you. You can complacently keep your talents, skills, and dreams to yourself, giving them no outlet. They will diminish. And so will you. 

(One million percent avoidable!)

The Gentle Version: 

Your retirement can be one of the most fulfilling times of your life if you make some choices about it and do regular check-ins. 


Before we go any further, let’s ask the obvious. 

Why am I even talking about retirement?

 I’ve just started a new women’s life & spiritual coaching business and I don’t look a day over 25 (yeah right, and thank you!) 

Well, my dad, Douglas, is embarking on his retirement this Friday. And I care much about him, his health, and his happiness. 

While Douglas is pretty tight-lipped in general, I did manage to get one thing out of him.

I asked my signature, lifelong standard, classic Caroline query: 

“How do you feel about it?” 

His response: “Unsettled. I’ve worked for 60 years.” 

My heart goes out to him. 

When I think of retirement, a picture comes to my mind. A real-life picture, actually. 

In 2009, Dad and I took a once-in-a-lifetime daughter/dad trip to his dream location:


As long as I can remember, he’d always talked about going to Oz. 

After several Christmas gifts of books about travels to Australia, the pictorial calendar of the Sydney Opera House, and the fun facts note cards of all the things in Australia that can kill you, 

I finally persuaded him to go after his dreams.  

And thank frickin’ goodness he did!

We had the most amazing, slow-paced, duelling journals, sunset watchin’,

 left-side-of-the-road drivin’, kangaroo-pettin’ trip, that we still talk about today. 

No doubt, as Douglas packs up his office and leaves for the last time, he will lovingly bring the framed photo of him sitting on a bench looking at the Sydney Opera House with him, grateful for the memory. 

It was a truly fantastic trip, made better by the surely gone now Aussie Air Pass from Qantas. 

(Looks like this is similar

I think we flew from L.A. to Sydney, to Carnes, to Uluru, to Melbourne, back to Sydney, and to L.A. for under $1500 each. A nearly three-week trip. 

Well, this glorious trip gave me a visual I think of often, and a visual I consider now as I think of the retirement transition.

When we were in Melbourne, we took a tour of the surrounding gorgeous area and of my beloved, Twelve Apostles. You might notice, I try to bring them up and slip in pictures of them as often as I can, in as many places as I can. 

Like here….

And here…

And here… here… and here…

It’s probably the most majestic thing I’ve seen so far in my moderately well-traveled life. And I’d pay thousands of dollars just to go back there and see only that one thing for an hour. It was spectacular!

What was so striking to us both, was that these ancient rocks were once a part of the land, but the Southern Ocean had weathered them away. As Dad and I stood there, drinking in the view, we discussed how moving, how jarring, how beyond comprehension it was that we were standing on the edge of the continent, in what felt to us like a land near the end of the earth. 

We were mesmerized by Australia, the distance, the magic, the beauty, and how clearly it was literally on the other side of the world from us. 

That’s the image I have for retirement.

(My gosh! She got to her point! God bless it!)

Standing on the edge of the continent, firm-footed on the land, yet looking out at what’s ahead. Endless water. Open skies. Space. Depth. Danger. Promise.

The width and possibility was “unsettling.” We both felt so small. So at the mercy of the greatness and expansiveness of God, nature, and the passing of time. 

If you’re at the cliff’s edge now or already in the expanse, I’d like to help! 

Pardon me, I was being shy. I’ll say this in a more authentic way: I really, really fo-real want to help you with this. 

If I’m not retiring myself and I’m not at this stage yet, can I possibly offer you anything? 

Yes, I’m certain of it. 

I think this is such an interesting and important topic and it would do well in several coaching formats. 

One-on-one coaching

to go in-depth into your vision, goals, and obstacles to create your ideal retirement. 

Group coaching

in a supportive, loving, very small community. We’d work towards confidence, a sense of adventure, appreciation, and clarity about how to make the most of retirement. 

A workshop

for a mid-sized group to receive information with prompting questions to process independently. 

Puh-lease contact me if you’re interested

At the moment, this is just a stirring I’ve got in my heart. I’m following the stir and am curious to see if it can grow into something special. 

Contact me if you feel a pull or tug on your heart or mind too. 

In the meantime, I’ve got some thoughts I want to share with you. I hope they’re helpful to you. 

#1 Retirement can bring up allll kinds of thoughts and feelings. And they are all natural. 

#2 You’ve got some hugely positive things and opportunities going for you

#3 You’ve got some equally hugely serious traps to watch out for

#4 You need to decide what you want most from this time

#5 You need to make a plan

Let’s take a closer look at this.

#1 Retirement can bring up allll kinds of thoughts and feelings. And they are all natural. 

Expect it all! 

All kinds of stuff can come up here.

You might experience relief, happiness, guilt, anxiety, or overwhelm.
There’s a possibility of having a grieving process as well. Saying goodbye to a life you’ve known for many years can be bittersweet or just outright shocking.

As Douglas said, he’s done the same thing for 60 years. Working, and showing up for a job in one way or another with expected productivity has been a constant in your life, even if you’ve changed careers several times. If you’ve been with the same people in the same space for a length of time, that’s even more to grieve.

That’s normal. Be easy on yourself about it.

You may feel bored or fearful.
You could feel uncertainty about your finances and wonder if you’ve saved enough or have extra to do the fun things you’ve been looking forward to.

You can feel elation for your new free time, then have nerves about it.

What will I do with myself? Will I have anyone to talk to or be with?

You may have thoughts of mortality or existentialism.

Has what I’ve done mattered? What do I want to do with the rest of my life?

First, all of those thoughts and feelings are natural.
I’m sure you know that already.

And you know what else is natural? If you’re happy one minute, scared the next, sad, then angry. To have contradictory feelings emerge at any time is perfectly normal. You’re in a huge life transition and your sweet mind is trying to process it and make sense of it.

Feelings are brazen. They’re the mannerless neighbor who shows up at any hour of the day to ask to “borrow” sugar then helps themselves to your m&m bowl and fizzy water while talking about themselves and their last dentist appointment and all the dreams they had last night after they’ve helped themselves to your remote to watch Days Of Our Lives for three hours.

(My gosh, that was specific! A little too specific. Do ya hear me, Mable Anne?!)

Give them some room to come and work themselves out. Keep moving and try not to get too attached to them.

These feelings may peak when you leave your career or may peak much later, who knows when.

Just do yourself a favor, and don’t be surprised.

If they’re extra pesky, talk to a counselor or a good friend, that can help you.
No need to muscle through if your feelings are being a bully to you.

#2 You’ve got some hugely positive things and opportunities going for you

Let’s talk about that three-week Alaskan cruise now, shall we?

Forgetting about all of the “shoulds,” name ten things you actually WANT to do this year.

Sleep in til 9 am, have coffee and read every morning for an hour, work in your yard as long as you want to every day, go to the movies every Thursday at 2 pm, tour the castles of Ireland, go to a mid-day book club or Bible study, bring your air fryer along for a USA road trip in a camper

What have you always wanted to do?
Who and where have you put off going to visit?

Take your five-day vacation and turn it into a whole season!

What do you want to learn?

Learn another language, learn about the Ottoman Empire, read the whole Bible in six months, learn to write calligraphy, or take watercolor lessons

Who do you want to spend time with?

What dreams do you have?

Let your imagination open up here. What is your heart’s desire?
Do it.

#3 You’ve got some hugely serious traps to watch out for

Mint Milanos for breakfast at noon? Who’s lookin!?

You will no longer be held accountable for your 9-5 hours or productivity.
You are no longer required or expected to contribute to a workplace.
You are no longer legally obligated to wear clothes every day.

Nekkid time 9-5!?

Your daily list of things you have to do has just been reduced by about 65%.
You are in charge of you..finally!

Freedom is a gift and a joy.
But it can be very dangerous or even deadly if you don’t give yourself boundaries, expectations, and structure.

Have a chat with yourself and work out what is the bare minimum you want to do every day.

Get dressed and brush your teeth, go out of the house at least once, visit with someone, make your bed, or clean the house for 20 minutes

How will you take care of your body?

Stretch every morning, walk two miles a day, eat vegetables with every meal, or perhaps drink 70 ounces of water by 6 pm

How will you take care of your mind?

Read a book a month, do crossword puzzles, volunteer your skills

How do you want to help others?
What do you want to accomplish?

Who will you talk to WHEN you are overcome by autonomy? Who can help you find your structure again when you drift? Make a plan for this.

This is new. Be kind to yourself. There is flexibility, within a structure.

Consider this to add to your bare minimum:
See people regularly
Continue to contribute
Take care of your mind, body, and spirit.
Continue to grow your character and use your mind
Always have things to look forward to

#4 You need to decide what you want for this time

Envision your overall picture for your retirement. What do you want it to look like?

Here are four questions to get you started:

Who do I want to be in the next 5 years?

Active, kind, generous, adventurous, charitable, healthy

How do I NOT want to be?

Lazy, complaining, angry, resentful, fearful, wasteful, unoccupied

In the next year, what do I want more of in my life?

Exercise, travel, time with friends, trips with kids, new hobbies, using skills as a volunteer, intentional rest time

What are the three main things I want to do or accomplish this year?

Go to NYC and see shows, learn how to make soap, raise chickens, learn to speak Spanish and use it during travels to Central America, redesign and replant the rosebed in the yard

#5 You need a plan

Every day, you do something that moves you more in the direction of your answers to the above questions in #4.

Do this according to how you like to and how it suits your style. Write a list every day, do a spreadsheet for the quarter, journal once a week, whatever feels best to you.
This is your most basic guide to thriving during your retired years.

And here’s your new MUST-

Giving yourself, your habits and your behavior regular attention is your new non-negotiable. If you don’t have a monthly, quarterly, or every six-month check-in, you’re likely to slip into something you’re not proud of and your time will get away from you.

Have a meeting with yourself or your journal or spreadsheet and see how you’re doing on your basic structure. What needs tweaking? What adventures will you add for the next six months? What classes do you want to take in the fall? What habits are obstacles and what routines have you loved that you want to keep?

Keep checking in and making sure you’re happy with how you’re spending your time, money, and energy.

Don’t let your time be that slippery old gal that she is. Be intentional. And know the general direction you want to go towards. Walk in that direction as often as you possibly can.

I think it’s completely possible for retirement to be one of your favorite and most fulfilling stages in life.

You’ve worked hard. You’ve waited to have more time. Now it’s here.

How will you make this next stage wonderful and full of joy?!
Get out there and make the most of it!

If you’re retiring, congrats. I’d love to help you walk through this time and help you find confidence and clarity about this transition.
Send me a message if you’re interested in working together:

I'm Caroline busick

I believe that life is meant to be enjoyed and you are made to live with purpose, passion, and JOY! 

As a life and spiritual coach and certified mindfulness teacher, I'm here to support you as you choose to live with intention and clarity. 

With my one-to-one online coaching, digital resources, and retreats available, we'll work together to ensure that you create a
life you love and love how you're living it. 

Nice to meet you!


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