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.

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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?