Are you planning to retire in the next few years? Do you have fantasies about all the things you’ll do and don’t have to do once you no longer work? Does the future look like nirvana?

As a nurse, you’ve devoted yourself to helping patients heal and renew their lives. Retirement is a time to revive yours. And, you don’t have to wait. You can start now before you retire. By implementing the anchors of retirement life early, you will be setting the stage for your next 30, 40 or more years. In addition to enjoying yourself now, you will be preparing yourself to ease into your future.

Why should you be concerned to start now? Retirement is a major change that we often expect will just fall into place after our final days at work. But, it’s not that easy. Thousands of nurses struggle with what to do with their lives after they no longer have patients and all of the other tasks that fill their job descriptions.

People who don’t know how to retire often find themselves at a loss. Statistics show that those who leave their careers and retire to nothingness die, get sick or get depressed. Among the factors that deter this new beginning are lost identity, lack of schedule, limited socialization and the absence of meaning. As you build a new life, you need to learn how to re-engage these vital parts of your life in new ways.

How do you turn a long nursing career into retirement after years of saying “I’m a nurse” when someone asks you what you do, and when you no longer work purposefully caring for patients?

Let’s start by reframing how we understand retirement. In fact, let’s call it revivement, a word I coined to replace the old way of thinking about what happens after you retire. I’ve taken the tire(d) out and replaced it with “vive” for life, because this is a time to take all that you are forward with energy, exuberance and verve. In other words, “vive!” Instead of lying in a hammock day in and day out and letting the world go by, you’ll be having the great life you deserve.

You will also have time to realize the wealth of who you are as a person. Throughout your years you have acquired skills, experience, wisdom and personal growth by engaging in life. Now, you’ll have time to enjoy this more mature you while exploring more of your undiscovered gifts and talents.

Now meaning, fulfillment and living with purpose will become paramount goals. As a nurse, you have been purposeful. Now you want to take what you achieved in your nursing career and redirect it to fulfilling your lifetime mission.

Here are a few ways to improve your life now and after retirement:

  • Decide that life begins now. You don’t have to wait until you’re a certain age and retired to put life-giving activity into your days.
  • Discover your life purpose and mission. Enjoy the direction Gloria Dunn-Violin and satisfaction you gain when you let it guide you.
  • If you need people and purpose, join volunteer groups. It’s a give and get scene. You contribute your time and abilities. You get friends, and, sometimes an extended family. You also keep your mind and body active, which is great for your health and psyche.
  • Decide if you still want to work. Yes, it is okay to still work, and you might need the income. But, do it your way. Ask for a reduced schedule or make other flexible arrangements that suit you.
  • Make a list of activities you enjoy and prioritize them. Some might give you a social outlet to spend time with others. Also, decide what activities you want to do alone. Integrate them all into your life slowly so you aren’t overwhelmed.
  • Be well. Find a lifestyle that includes healthy foods, exercise and the right weight for your height and bone structure. Feed your brain the mental activity it requires to stay vibrant. Living healthy keeps you healthy.
  • Take classes to keep your mind active and interested. Universities, community colleges and workshops offer a plethora of educational and ‘how to’ classes that will help you grow your mind and spirit as well as give you new skills to enjoy.

Yes, this is the best time of life if you choose to make it that way. So, start now. Think about what you want your life to be like. Develop a flexible plan. Then begin to integrate your plan into your days and make it a reality.

Turn retirement into revivement! If you begin now, you’ll give yourself the lifelong gift of “vive.”