Chances are, if you’ve spent your professional life as a teacher, you chose that role because you were using your strengths. Even if you weren’t a teacher, perhaps you were able to use your strengths, at least if you were one of the lucky ones.
So many people find themselves stuck in jobs where they are dissatisfied, even miserable. What a pity!
I have to admit that I was one of the lucky ones because I loved school before I ever entered kindergarten. So it really seemed natural to me to want to stay in the school environment once I was an adult. I admired my teachers as I was growing up, and I was blessed with several really fine teachers. Those special individuals were obviously playing to their strengths, using their talents and God-given abilities to craft their daily lives and the lives of their students.
If you were lucky enough to be a teacher in a supportive setting, I’ll bet you influenced countless students too. And you felt that satisfaction of knowing you were making a significant contribution to the lives of the younger generation. You were helping make the world a better place. You had a hand in sparking your students’ imaginations.WOW! Just WOW!
But there’s a downside to being so engaged in your job: retirement can seem to be anything but a blessing.
You might feel lost, unneeded, useless, washed up.
But let’s flip those negative feelings and focus on what you can do to play to your strengths in retirement!
How Can You Play to Your Strengths in Retirement?
Right now, get out some paper–something you’ll keep, something you’ll be able to find this time next week. Go on. Get a pen or pencil while you’re at it.
Now write My Strengths on the top & put today’s date under that.
Without too much thought, just start listing a word or phrase to capture each of your strengths as it pops into your head.
Don’t be shy! No one will read this but you.
The order doesn’t matter, the spelling doesn’t matter, the penmanship doesn’t matter. I do think it matters that you’re handwriting this list. The idea of getting your thoughts flowing from your head out onto the page is somehow just better if handwritten. Some studies even show that handwriting notes makes them stay in our memories longer.
The main thing to remember as you do this little exercise is NOT to censor yourself! Do NOT worry about or judge the “quality” of your thoughts. Just be loose and capture the idea. Remember: no one is reading this list but you, so do NOT be shy!
What do you identify as a strength?
What you define as a strength can fit into absolutely any category: a hobby, a work-related skill, a fleeting interest you’ve never really devoted time to doing. It could be a craft, artwork, academic skill (like writing or making spreadsheets). Are you good at explaining things to others? Can you make a mean meringue? Cooking, gardening, fishing, boating. . . You get the idea–ANYTHING!
What you’re trying to do here is to identify strengths you have, however insignificant those strengths might seem to you. What you can do well, I am probably not able to do at all. What you’re building is a list of possibilities to use in retirement so that you can be a blessing to others and to yourself. Whether you decide to use that skill to make money or simply to spread happiness matters not.
You’re looking to building upon your strengths for a happy retirement.
Go on–get your pen or pencil and your paper. Make that list right now. It might help you to set a timer for 10-15 minutes and then just jot down words or phrases in a list as quickly as you can–without judging yourself or what you’re writing.
Let me know in the comments your reaction to this exercise. Did anything surprise you? What did you learn?