After 47 years working in healthcare administration, and 16 years of being retired, Dr. Judy Ryan has had ample opportunity to reflect on the ways retirement changed her life.
To retire with purpose, know your purpose
If you're getting ready to retire, Judy has seven questions to help you prepare.
1. What concept guides your life?
Turning to scripture helped Judy, a former president and CEO of The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society, reflect on what it means to make life-changing decisions. The word "kavod" helped her wrestle with the impact of leaving her career.
"Kavod means something like wisdom, but heavy — the capacity to think about this world and the next, and to make life decisions based on that process of moving from this world to the next,” Judy says. “It is closely related to the idea of a discerning heart. It is both noun and verb, a dialogue with God."
2. Do you have time to be creative?
For Judy, work in medical policy and advocacy kept her from artistic endeavors. During retirement in Key West, Florida, she began to paint.
3. Have you found a vibrant retirement community?
Think about home maintenance and medical care. But also look for a place that offers things like group activities, outings, and a spiritual community that inspires you.
4. Have you found services for older adults in your community?
Judy and her husband, Rocky, planned financially for retirement, but not everyone has that luxury. If you don’t feel financially secure, look into free and low-cost services in your area. Meals on Wheels and Senior Companions are two programs that can enhance your well-being on a budget.
5. Are you compassionate with others?
This could mean visiting residents in a nursing home, or spending time listening to people with views that differ from yours.
No matter how you spend your time, Judy's got one piece of health care advice for you:
"Don't take yourself so seriously," she says. "Laughter is good medicine. It just plain is."
6. Do you have a spiritual focus in your life?
"Having some concept of God absolutely directs the way I live my life," Judy says. "Find your own faith experience that allows you to experience that."
7. How can you remain involved in things you're passionate about?
Themes of advocacy, care and education all came up over and over throughout Judy's life, so she felt called to keep working on those areas of her life in retirement.
For you, personal interests and skills might lead you to volunteer in a career field that is important to you, such as serving as a mentor or passing along life stories to your family members.