How Thinking Differently Improved My Retirement

Retirement Snapshot

lifestyle, retirement, retirement diaries, how thinking differently improved my retirement

Lisa and her husband Tom on a sunset cruise in NantucketPhoto credit: Lisa Stornaielo

  • Location: Braintree, Massachusetts
  • Age: 60
  • Retired At: 58
  • Marital Status: Married
  • Profession: Leadership Development Consultant and Executive Coach

After a rich and successful career in leadership development, Lisa was offered an early retirement package from her employer of 21 years. She decided to leave the rigors of a 9-to-5 corporate job and rebalance her life. Lisa spends half her time working on her passion project, a start-up business called The Future of You. It helps people reimagine their lives in retirement. She spends the remainder of her time with a mix of social, recreational, and service pursuits. Her husband is also semi-retired, so they enjoy traveling and spending time with their grown daughters who are in college. We talked with Lisa about her retirement.

Retirement Reality

Retirement Awaits: What does a day in retirement look like for you?

Lisa: I try to have a routine in the morning as it sets my day up. I start with stretching exercises to keep my body toned. I am trying to get back in the habit of spending 15–30 minutes each morning before checking email and social media to meditate, pray, and journal. After that, my days tend to take on a variety of activities. I typically do some form of organized sport like golf, pickleball, spin class, or take the dog for a hike with my husband or a friend. I do some work, either write a blog, prep for a webinar I am hosting, or have a coaching session with a client. I go out for lunch or dinner with a friend a few times a week. I love to cook, so I typically spend time in the kitchen honing my skills and trying out new recipes.

Your Retirement Plan

Retirement Awaits: Did you have a solid plan going into retirement?

Lisa: Financially yes, I worked for over 20 years for a financial services firm, so I learned how to save for my retirement. I also had some ideas for how I wanted to spend my time in retirement because many of my friends took early retirement packages a few years before I retired. I learned from them that you need to have a plan for how to spend your time in meaningful ways.

Best Part About Retirement

Retirement Awaits: What’s the best part about retirement?

Lisa: I love the fact that my time is my own. After working so hard for all those years, I now have the freedom and flexibility to do things I put off as I was chasing my career and raising a family. I now have the time to join a golf league, learn pickleball, volunteer, take up pottery, and spend quality time traveling to my kids’ colleges to see their hockey games and ice-skating shows.

Challenges In Retirement

Retirement Awaits: What’s the biggest challenge in retirement?

Lisa: I am very social and miss the social interaction of an office and team. I am trying new ways to connect socially with groups of people with a shared purpose; things like volunteer organizations and clubs.

Cost Of Retirement

Retirement Awaits: We want people to understand how much retirement really costs. How do you manage your money now? Do you have a budget, meet with your advisor on a regular basis, etc?

Lisa: About 5 years before I retired, we met with a financial planner and made a plan. So I don’t have a formal budget, but I know targets and thresholds for income and spending. I know my numbers and I live within those boundaries. We meet with her quarterly to review and monitor our plan to make sure we stay on track.

Retirement Advice

Retirement Awaits: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give someone about to retire?

Lisa: My business partner and I conducted research for The Future of You, which involved interviewing over 50 people at various stages of their retirement. Here are the top 3 things that I learned and personally experienced while managing my transition to retirement.

  1. Start planning how you will spend your days, not only your money. I love to stay active and engaged. I started trying a few things out before I retired, which helped me plan how to spend my time once I was retired.
  1. This major life transition takes time and energy to plan for. Be an active participant in it; don’t sit back.
  1. Focus on what you want to do. Reconnect with your purpose and passion as it will help you live a fulfilling life in retirement

Things I Wish I Would Have Known

Retirement Awaits:What are a few things you wish someone would have told you about retirement/this season of life/transition?

Lisa: The traditional view of retirement is dated, but you can choose to change that by designing a retirement that excites you and is customized to your vision and needs. You are more than your last role or career. Your identity is bigger than that; you need to reconnect to the purpose behind that to bring meaning and fulfillment into your life. Enjoy the freedom and flexibility to slow down and take life all in. You have earned it.

Best Retirement Vacation

Retirement Awaits:What Is your favorite vacation or vacation spot?

Lisa: Italy. I love all parts from north to south. There is something for everyone: history, art, food, landscape. The people are amazing. I am Italian American, and I feel so at home there.

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