I recently had a conversation with my fiancé about making plans for dinner with my mother. I said I wanted to take her out on a Saturday night. We typically have dinners with her during the week. I felt going out on a Saturday night would somehow seem more special to her. His response – “But she’s retired. Every night is a Saturday night!” Good point.

But is it? I thought about how my mom would feel about this statement. Yes, she has freedom with her days and nights to do as she pleases. No getting up to the alarm clock. No must be asleep by a certain time. No job! But to her…Saturday night was…well, Saturday night! As it had been in the past for her, it was a night to dress up, go out and enjoy. Certainly, retirement looks different to different people. Quiet evenings at home with a good book might be preferred over nights out. Maybe you derive pleasure in connecting with a group of friends to go hiking or taking a dance class. You might want to continue working in some capacity. Regardless, the question remains the same. How do you want to invest your time?

Unlike financial planning for retirement, how you invest your time is more creative than logical. It is more about engaging your imagination than crafting a sound and logical plan. For some, it’s as easy as finding time for all of the leisure activities they never had time for before. For some, it is more difficult. As many retirees are quick to discover, it’s not just about having a vacation mindset. It can quickly become about packed schedules that are no longer filled and quiet days that become dull.

Know What You Are Looking For

One way to help you design your vision of retirement is to tune in to your values. What matters most to you? Then think about how these values play into the most important aspects of your life. Your relationships, health, work, and leisure time. How balanced is your life amongst these areas and how can you bring more of what you value to the areas that might be lacking?  Take the time to brainstorm about these ideas. Then take it a step further. What if you removed all constraints? For example, financial, geographical, or familial expectations. If you really could do anything, what would it be? Of course, some ideas might seem far-reaching, but the idea is to stretch your mind. Perhaps in a moment of wild thinking, you find an idea that sticks.

A good next step can be to find people that have done or are doing what you are interested in. Talk to them, ask lots of questions. You might find the answers to taking that first step or you may find that it’s not at all what you expected and shift to a new plan. Some have even found that hiring a life coach can help with this transition. A coach can help you move through the challenge and inspire you to find your own vision of what retirement should look like.

Dealing with uncertainty is never easy. Your new gift of freedom may not seem like a gift at first. Transitions do not have to be sudden though. Making small moves in any direction can help to keep you motivated and moving in the right direction. Your plans don’t need to be grand. They just need to be for you!