Your Retirement Jigsaw

Your Retirement Jigsaw: Is the Picture on the Box Missing?

An unfolding revelation

I’m very partial to metaphors and analogies! I love the way they can shortcut our understanding of concepts and processes. One of my firm favourites that I often use in my retirement coaching is that of the jigsaw puzzle. Retirement, much like a jigsaw, is made up of numerous pieces waiting to interlock before your dreams for the next chapter fully materialise – from the exciting chaos of pieces tumbling out of the box to the rewarding moment when the last piece finally reveals the full picture in all its glory. It’s an unfolding revelation and the satisfaction of completion is undeniable!

Typically, when we first meet, my clients have already made a valiant (but unsuccessful) attempt to assemble their retirement puzzle from a seemingly random mishmash of pieces – even forcing shapes together that clearly don’t fit, out of sheer frustration!  (We’ve all done this, right?) 

The thing is, they’ve bypassed THE most crucial element of all – the picture on the box. 

What's so important about the picture on the box?

face in profile grey

That picture on the box? That’s your vision right there. 

Without a clear vision of what you want your life in retirement to look like you’re fumbling around in the dark. You can’t just dump a thousand puzzle pieces out on the table and expect to put them together unless you know what the picture is supposed to look like.

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and spinning your wheels when it comes to planning your post-retirement life, chances are you haven’t yet pinned down your vision for the next chapter  – the “picture on the box.” 

If you don’t know what you want retirement to look like, you’re likely to end up somewhere you never intended to be, doing things you never wanted to do.

And that’s not exactly a retirement destination of choice!

Piecing it all together

Lacking a clear vision often leads to a reactive approach instead of a proactive one – doing things in a haphazard, ad hoc way rather than with deliberate intention. This can result in less-than-ideal decisions, as you flounder in a sea of choices without a solid plan to anchor you.

So tell me, do you have a crystal-clear vision of what you want your life in retirement to look like? 

Because the last thing you want is to arrive at this exciting new chapter only to find yourself feeling uncertain, disappointed, or stuck.

This is where the jigsaw analogy can help. Just like the systematic approach most of us use in assembling jigsaw puzzles—beginning with corners, straight edges, and grouping colour combinations—this same strategy can help shape your vision.

jigsaw piece
  • The corner pieces

    The corner pieces symbolise your key values—the fundamental core beliefs shaping your decision-making and actions. These values—like adventure, freedom, community, contribution, creativity, making a difference, and personal growth—serve as guiding lights in life. Just as the corners secure the puzzle’s frame, your values anchor your life, shaping your choices, priorities, and overall satisfaction. Remember, our values often evolve as we move through different life stages and when our values and lifestyle drift apart, it creates a sense of disconnection, sparking frustration and discontent. This is why making a conscious effort to identify and realign your key values at the outset is SO important. 

  • The straight edges  
    These represent the things that are super important to you… and your straight edges will be unique to you. They’re the non-negotiable things – things like spending more time with loved ones, prioritising your health, indulging in your hobbies, or making personal growth a priority. When the straight edges link together they form the framework that holds your unique retirement vision in place.

  • Grouping colour combinations
    Here’s your chance to craft a one-of-a-kind vision that perfectly matches your desires and aspirations, your likes and dislikes, dreams, talents, and passions. These combinations reflect your individuality, and the things that deeply resonate with you—things you hold dear, and the things that float your boat and bring you joy. They encapsulate your true essence.

Before you start...

A few practical tips to get the ball rolling:

  • Start by letting your thoughts flow freely. Remember, you’re not starting from scratch here and you already know far more than you might think! There are plenty of puzzle pieces already floating around. They might just need turning over so their potential can be seen.
  • Explore connections and relationships between different aspects of your retirement vision. Mind-mapping your ideas is a great way to do this.
  • Trust your gut feelings and tap into your inner wisdom. Consider seeking counsel from your ‘wise woman self,’ that intuitive part within you.
  • Don’t force it – let it evolve.  Allow room for adjustments and iterations as you gain clarity and insights along the way.
  • Still feeling a bit overwhelmed? No worries! My Are You Retirement Ready? checklist is here to get the ball rolling and give your retirement vision a jumpstart. 
jigsaw last piece

Remember, crafting your retirement vision is a deeply personal endeavour. It’s about acknowledging your values, passions, and dreams, and weaving them together to create a vivid and meaningful future.

‘The picture on the box’ is a representation of your unique pieces. You can’t force-fit someone else’s pieces into your puzzle; it’s crafted solely from the pieces that belong to you.

Just as a jigsaw puzzle can take time, patience and persistence – combined with a degree of frustration at times – finding your ‘picture on the box’ is a gradual process but once you have a clear vision, decision-making becomes a whole lot easier.

So, if you’re envisioning the satisfaction of clicking the final piece of your retirement puzzle into place, let that anticipation fuel your journey. Embrace your vision, stay true to your aspirations, and step forward into the retirement of your creation.

More on the blog...

Now what?

If the only certainty in life is change, you’d think we’d be better at it by the time we reach our Third Age!

Like it or not, we ARE changing! What’s less certain, is how we navigate this change as we transition into our next chapter.

Change of any sort always begins in the imagination first off and THEN gradually filters through into decisions, choices and new practices.

So if you want to change your future the place to START is by imagining a better one!

Do you ever get that gut-wrenching feeling in the pit of the stomach… a mixture of panic and regret, combined with the fear that time and opportunities are running out?

Well, what if you could turn those unsettling ‘woulda-coulda-shoulda’ thoughts into a force for positive change?

Your Retirement Jigsaw Read More »

Is Your Retirement Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

Is Your Retirement Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

As someone old enough to remember Monty Python’s ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,’ it was inevitable that the tune would start playing in my head as I embarked on this blog (and chances are, it’s now stuck in your head too!). Then again, I’ve always been one of life’s optimists. Much like Winston Churchill, I firmly believe that there’s little point in being anything else!

I’ve always seen a positive mental attitude as an invaluable asset, and this belief holds especially true as we approach retirement. 

Because let’s face it – retirement isn’t all sunshine and laughter. Indeed for many, it’s quite the opposite.

When you think about your life in retirement, do you expect it to be a time of expansion or contraction? Are you anticipating a time of new opportunities or limited options?

In other words, are you leaning towards an optimistic or pessimistic view of your retirement… a positive or negative view of this next chapter?

With numerous studies highlighting a strong link between higher levels of optimism and healthy ageing, these questions become all the more crucial to consider.

Your Mindset Matters!

Having a positive mental attitude is not some Pollyanna concept. It’s not about ignoring challenges or denying the existence of difficulties. Instead, a PMA involves acknowledging obstacles and setbacks while actively seeking constructive solutions and maintaining a hopeful perspective.

It’s about resilience, adaptability, and a proactive approach to life’s ups and downs, recognising that a positive mindset can be a powerful tool for navigating through adversity.

Our mindset has a direct effect on our entire retirement experience.

When we come from a place of optimism, we’re more likely to see retirement as a time for self-discovery and growth. On the other hand, if we come from a negative perspective and focus on limitations and losses, it’s so much harder to appreciate the opportunities or potential this chapter has to offer.

So, let’s circle back to our starting point: Is your retirement glass half full or half empty?

Considering the enormous impact that mindset and attitude can have on our retirement journey, this question carries substantial weight.

Now, if you’ve already firmly embraced the glass-half-full perspective, you’re off to a great start! However, I’d like to offer some guidance to those of you who find yourselves in the glass-half-empty camp.

Firstly, I want to stress that this isn’t about superficial ‘positive thinking’; it’s about finding a perspective that will genuinely serve you better.

So with that in mind, here are some practical tips to help you get started.

  • Acknowledge Your Feelings: Retirement often starts with some less-than-rosy emotions but suppressing or denying them can often be counterproductive.  It’s perfectly okay to have moments, or even extended periods when optimism feels like a step too far! Allow yourself to experience and express what you’re truly feeling. Recognise and accept your feelings, whatever they may be.
  • Seek Support: You don’t have to navigate your retirement journey alone. Reach out to friends, family, or professionals who can provide a safe space for you to share your thoughts and emotions. Talking about your feelings with someone you trust can be incredibly therapeutic and help you find a more empowering perspective.
  • Take Small Steps: You don’t have to make a giant leap from pessimism to boundless optimism overnight! Break down your retirement aspirations into achievable, smaller goals so that each mini-milestone can boost your confidence and slowly shift your perspective.
  • Practice Self-Compassion: Treat yourself with the same compassion you’d offer a friend.  Understand that it’s okay to have moments of pessimism or doubt. Be patient with yourself as you work through these feelings.
  • Dig Deeper: Take time to explore the root causes of your negative feelings –  underlying issues, unresolved concerns, fears about the future, or other factors that are affecting your optimism. Identifying these triggers can be the first step towards addressing them.
  • Focus on Self-Care: Taking care of your physical and mental well-being is crucial. Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep can have a significant impact on your mood. Meditation and mindfulness practices can also help manage negative emotions.
  • Limit Negative Influences: Pay attention to the sources of negativity in your life. This might include news, social media, or even certain people who consistently bring you down. Consider reducing your exposure to these influences and surround yourself with more positive and uplifting content and individuals.
  • Find Meaning and Purpose: Discovering a sense of purpose can be a powerful antidote to pessimism. Engaging in activities that align with your values and passions can bring fulfilment and a renewed sense of optimism. This could involve volunteering, pursuing a new hobby, or exploring creative outlets.
  • Practice Gratitude: While it may seem challenging, cultivating a sense of gratitude can gradually shift your perspective. Each day, make an effort to identify even small things you’re grateful for. Over time, this practice can help you see the positive aspects of life more clearly.
  • Maintain Social Connections: Loneliness is the enemy of optimism, so prioritise spending time with friends and loved ones, whether in person or virtually. Navigating retirement is far more enjoyable, engaging, and expansive when you share your journey and connect with others – especially those who are on a similar path.
  • Seek Professional Guidance: While some retirees possess the self-motivation and optimism to propel their retirement projects forward, you may lack the emotional energy or capacity to be your own cheerleader. That’s why working with a supportive retirement coach can be genuinely transformative.

Remember, the journey towards positivity and optimism is totally unique and personal, and it’s okay to take it at your own pace. Small, consistent steps can lead to meaningful changes over time. Remember, optimism doesn’t mean ignoring or denying life’s challenges; it’s about approaching them with a constructive and hopeful mindset. The key is to be gentle with yourself and take one step at a time towards a more positive outlook on the future.

Nurture your inner optimism, and let it lead you towards a retirement filled with purpose, joy, and authenticity.

Are You Retirement Ready? (..and we’re not talking money!)

DOWNLOAD THE checklist and find out!

How to Create a Retirement that Rocks


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Burying Your Head in the Sand is Not a Viable Retirement Strategy

Burying your head in the sand is not a viable retirement strategy!

Over the past few days, I’ve had two in-depth conversations about retirement, with two very different women. What amazed me was the striking similarity of their feelings and the way they used almost identical words to express themselves! Both were still working, contemplating retirement, and grappling with uncertainty about their post-retirement lives.

I think it’s fair to say that they were both feeling ‘decidedly discombobulated’ about the whole retirement thing!

And what’s more, both had recently pushed back their retirement date for the same reason.


Because they had NO IDEA what their lives would look like or what they would DO once they retired and because that thought was so overwhelming, they chose instead to kick the decision into the long grass for a few more months.

Both expressed their feelings in very similar ways:

  • I don’t feel ready to call myself ‘retired’!
  • I’ve got the financial side sorted – it’s the rest of it I’m struggling with.
  • What the hell am I going to DO with all this TIME?

Retirement jitters are something we all encounter along the way. While each person’s situation is unique, the feelings shared are surprisingly similar. I hope that if you are experiencing something similar right now, the following insights will be of help to you.

Acknowledge retirement as a major life transition

First off, retirement IS a big deal – which is why it feels like a big deal! It’s a whole new chapter in life, and it’s natural to be a bit bewildered and discombobulated by all the changes and uncertainties that come with it.

It’s a huge transition; as with any life transition, it can be challenging. Recognising its impact on your identity and sense of purpose is important as you grapple with questions like “Who am I now?” and “What’s my purpose without a professional role?”  

And when there are no immediate or obvious answers it’s often easier to push them away and retreat back to the comfort of the status quo.

The trouble is, this strategy is not a solution – it’s simply delaying the inevitable. Further down the line, those nagging questions will still be staring you in the face, only now they’ll feel even more pressing as time marches on.  And THAT is no place from which to make important life decisions.

So what’s to be done?

Don't shy away from retirement's uncertainties

Whether it’s today or a year from now, those questions and uncertainties will keep knocking on your door, demanding answers, which is why so many people end up spending their first few years of retirement still grappling with this reality, still trying to figure things out.

So many of the women I talk with have no clue about what they want their retirement to look like or how they want to spend their precious time. 

Yet when I ask them what they think they need to do to ensure they’re not in the same place this time next year, they all know the answer – develop a clearer vision of their desired retirement lifestyle.

Clarity is always the key piece of the puzzle

Once you figure out what you want and where you’re heading, all those retirement uncertainties become much easier to handle. Knowing what truly matters to you gives you a sense of purpose and direction.  Once you’ve got a clear vision you’ll feel confident and ready to make intentional decisions and create the life that’s calling you.

The retirement transition is not a quick fix, but you can do things to help the process along and turn the roadblocks into stepping stones. So, how about taking a proactive approach instead of burying your head in the sand and dodging retirement decisions?

Practical, proactive steps to move you forward

Embrace the reality and take control of your future

As you dive into this self-discovery adventure, don’t forget to embrace the value of open conversations. Seek guidance and insights from mentors, friends, or professionals – their perspectives can offer invaluable clarity. Additionally, consider diving into a one-on-one Retirement Springboard session. Tailored just for you, it’s a chance to distill your goals and aspirations into a visual and tangible roadmap.

When it comes to retirement, burying our heads in the sand won’t make it disappear. It’s a reality we all have to face sooner or later. No matter how much we procrastinate, it won’t change the fact that one day, we will need to step away from our careers and embark on a new chapter in life. 

When we accept it, we can prepare ourselves mentally, emotionally, and financially for this life transition and make intentional choices and decisions that lead to the retirement we want.

So I urge you to embrace the journey ahead, knowing that facing it head-on will lead to a more fulfilling and gratifying retirement down the road. Remember, the sooner you start designing a retirement that aligns with your values and aspirations, the sooner you’ll get to live it!  Get in the driving seat, make informed choices, and step into this new chapter with clarity, confidence, and enthusiasm.

The big question is… HOW? 

Well, one of the simplest and most effective steps you can take is to start writing!

Simply putting put pen to paper creates a tangible connection between your inner thoughts and the outer world and allows you to step into the role of both the thinker and the observer. You can pour out your uncertainties, dreams, and questions onto the page, creating a space for introspection and self-reflection. Seeing your thoughts transformed into words can offer you new perspectives, helping you view your feelings and ideas from a fresh angle

Whether it’s jotting down your retirement goals, scribbling away your fears, or meticulously outlining your dreams, writing it all down carries a cathartic, enlightening, and revelatory power. It’s an indispensable tool that serves as a steadfast companion on your journey of self-reflection. With its help, you can unearth hidden insights, and ultimately navigate your path with a greater sense of intention. 

So, grab your trusty journal and let the pen flow!

And to kickstart this transformative process, why not begin with my complimentary checklist and workbook called Are You Retirement Ready? designed to set the wheels in motion.  

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