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Values matter: Getting the foundations right for a fulfilling retirement

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Getting the foundations right for retirementA secure, safe and enjoyable retirement has to be built on solid foundations. We all know this. Build on waterlogged land, dig inadequate foundations, use poor quality materials to fill them in and it’s going to collapse.
Approaching retirement is a good time to do a survey on yourself, and a little reinforcing and repair doesn’t go amiss for any of us either.
Our values are the foundation of any life that is enjoyable and fulfilling.
Here I consider:
  • How to define your values
  • How to establish if you’re living them
  • How to ensure your retirement fulfils them.
Values aren’t just an add-on in life – they’re who we are. They’re our DNA - unique and individual. They are the essence of how we show up in the world and relate to the people around us.
The values that I’m talking about here are not necessarily those we inherited or the ones that society thinks we should have, or even those that we think we should have. No. They’re what we live our lives by.

Finding your values

Here’s a peep into how I’d approach this with my clients...

Take photos

Carry a camera for a few days and take pictures of all the things that make your heart sing and all that make your heart sink. It could be that a blue sky, a comfortable chair, a much loved pet, a rainy day or a library make your heart sing while a filing cabinet, an umbrella, a traffic jam, a tidy desk or a clock make it sink.

Find images

If you don’t like the idea of taking photos then get a host of old magazines and cards. Cut out images which stand out for you. And, of course, if you love drawing then draw your own pictures.

Arrange them

Put them into two piles on the table or arrange them into 2 folders on your laptop or tablet: SING ones and SINK ones.
Find the values - take them one by one and ask yourself ‘what is it about that image that affects my heart in that way?’ Keep drilling down until you get to the core of the matter. For example, if a clock makes your heart sink it might be because you feel pressure to be always doing. Underneath that pressure you may have values around freedom, peace, ease or relaxation.
It works both ways for either sings or sinks. They are just visual metaphors for your values. The work is in understanding what they represent to you.
You can’t get this wrong. The really, really important thing to remember here is there are absolutely no rights and wrongs and your value list will be unique to you.

Score them

Now take each of those precious values and score them out of 10. How much are you living them in your life right now? Is it 9/10 or 4/10? This isn’t a competition, just an opportunity to notice how you’re living your life currently. Once you’ve done that, look ahead into retirement and imagine what your score will be in the future.
If laughter and fun has been delivered by going out with work colleagues at the end of the day and is a 7 right now how will you fill that void when you’re not with that work crowd?

Time to fill the gaps!

Write a list of 20 possible things you could do. Struggling to find 20? Ask a couple of people to help.
Have a giggle adding things that are outside your comfort zone. Then pick the three that most appeal to you and get into action now. Don’t wait until after you have retired. Create a mini action plan, set some deadlines for yourself and get going. No one else is going to do it for you!
And if you have already retired? Do the same exercise and commit to doing three new things this month. In fact, why not go large and commit to 10?

Choose and act

Planning a fulfilling retirement doesn’t have to cost piles of cash - but it does take thought and effort. It might mean some changes. What I do know, is that you have the power to create some robust foundations from your own personal values, if you get digging now.
Has this article triggered anything in you? Have you tried Tilla’s approach to finding your values or found a different way of doing things that has worked for you? Share your experiences and help others in the same boat.
This article has been commissioned by retiresavvy and any opinions voiced are the author's own.


this sounds like an enjoyable way of gathering information - and separating the decision-making processes should make the final results more balanced and acheivable

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