Transitioning to Retirement – Your Path

By: Herb Casey, Federal Retirement Specialist

Published: September 2022

In the same way that you developed your career, to have a purposeful and rewarding retirement, you must think about what steps you can take now to prepare for that next chapter. You may have something you put on the back burner during your career that you want to focus on. Transitioning to retirement can be difficult because your whole routine will change in that you will not be going into the office, and you will no longer be who you were.

What path will you take in retirement? To begin the process of finding your next path, determine who you are. You must look inward during this process. You will need to determine your purpose, values, and strengths.

Your Purpose

The first step is defining your purpose.  Why are you here?  What brings you joy and meaning in life? In determining your purpose, here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • If money did not matter, what would you be doing?
  • What makes you feel happy and alive?
  • What is something that you enjoyed when you were younger?

Your Values

The second step is to determine and prioritize your values. Values are the essence of who you are. They are the beliefs that guide you in your life much like a compass. Some common values are family, generosity, honesty, integrity, loyalty, independence, security, service, and spirituality. (You can search online for lists of additional values.) You can use values to make decisions about how to live your life once you retire. For instance, should you start your own business? Where should you volunteer in your community? A good way to determine your core values is to identify 5 to 10 values that are important to you as guides for how you want to live your life.

Your Strengths

Your third step is discovering what you naturally do best which are your strengths. These are the knowledges, skills, and abilities you’ve gained through experience and education. Also, think about those transferrable skills such as communication, adaptability, leadership, teamwork, and time management.

Questions to ask yourself to identify your strengths are:

  • What are your unique characteristics/skills?
  • What are your hobbies or special interests?
  • What have others complimented you about?

Once you have identified your strengths, modify the list to determine which ones you want to include in your retirement transition.

Clarity of Your Focus

Once you have identified your purpose, values, and strengths, you are able to determine what you will focus on. Your focus is doing what you feel you should do. It could be a hobby, volunteering, going back to school, starting a business, traveling, writing or anything else. You can create a vision statement which is a document that describes in words what your life will be like after you retire. For those of you who are more visual, you might decide to create a vision board which is a collage of images and words that creates realness for your transition. Be positive with your thoughts. Although you may have limitations or don’t have all the skills needed for your focus, don’t let that stop you. This is the time to step out of your comfort zone.

As you can see, finding your path in retirement requires planning and deep soul searching. To have a purposeful retirement, you must identify your purpose, values, and strengths. Now is the time to get started. What is the one thing that you can do today towards finding your purpose and focus when you retire?


Herbert B (Herb) Casey is a retirement and transition coach based in St Petersburg, FL. He retired from the Federal Government after 30 years as a human resource professional. He has been a presenter for NITP since 2019.
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