Your Year End Checklist

Reflections for Baby BoomersNo matter where Baby Boomers are on the threshold of their retirement, it can be very beneficial to track their transition into their encore stage of life. Before creating visions and goals for your next year, I recommend taking time at the end of this year to reflect back on what you experienced during the current year.

10 Questions for Review and Reflection

Read through your calendar, journal, and any other documentation you may have used to record the events of this year. Give yourself uninterrupted time to do your review and reflections. Ask yourself these 10 questions:

  1. What overall pattern or trend did you discover for the year?
  2. What is one achievement that you are most proud of?
  3. What helped you to make that achievement happen?
  4. What stood in the way of achieving what you had planned?
  5. What do you want to work more on in the coming year?
  6. What will be different next year?
  7. What unexpected gifts or challenges did you experience this year?
  8. What do you wish you had known at the first of this year that you know now?
  9. If you could wave a magic wand, what would you make happen right now?
  10. What title would you give this year to fully describe it? – The year of ____________.

When you take the time to thoroughly review and reflect upon what you experienced in the current year, you honor your time, your energy, and your effort. It can be viewed as the stepping stone for what is to come next and can serve as a guide for you when you create your vision and goals for the upcoming year.

What did you learn from your review and reflection of this year?

Janice Williams Retirement Coach,



Do You Practice Life-Long Learning?

Learning in encore yearsWhat will your identity be when you leave your full time work world and enter into the encore stage of your life? This stage of life gives baby boomers an opportunity to branch out and explore new ways of being and doing during their retirement years.

One support for clarifying your new identity is life-long learning. If you were totally immersed in your professional world, the learning you experienced over the years may have been focused on acquiring work-related knowledge, skills and abilities. How will learning manifest in your retirement lifestyle?

Expand your expertise

You can build on the expertise that you already have, as well as explore new learning topics, resulting in numerous benefits. Should you want to take another form of employment or volunteerism, you may need to update your skills in order to be relevant and successful. Perhaps you have always wanted to learn about a particular subject and never took the time to do so while you were working. If you plan to travel, you may want to learn a new language that could make your travel experience richer.

There are other benefits you can receive from learning new subjects. Brain science is learning more and more about how learning stimulates the brain cells and can slow the aging process. When you learn about new subjects, you can also become a more interesting conversationalist. And, in the learning process, you will meet new, like-minded people.

Share your expertise

Your encore stage of life is a prime time to share your existing expertise, as well as your newly acquired knowledge. You can teach the subject matter to others, either in the form of employment or as a volunteer. As you teach, you continue to learn more about the subject as well as yourself and interacting with others. Lastly, you will leave a legacy of the value of your expertise with others who learn from you.

How to enhance your expertise

There are numerous ways to refine what you already know and learn about new subjects that fit your retirement lifestyle, such as:

  • Online learning
  • Universities, colleges, community colleges
  • Professional associations
  • Centers for life-long learning
  • Government agencies

How will life-long learning enrich your retirement lifestyle?

Janice Williams, Retirement Coach,


Discover Your Family Treasure

Stories of familyThe encore years of life offer Baby Boomers a time for reflection and conversations to discover valuable family stories. When you uncover the stories you hold for your own life you create greater awareness of how you fit into your family. And, when you share your stories with others in your family, you expand their perspective of their own lives, as well as of the family as a whole.

Reflections on your own life stories can help you design your retirement lifestyle. What do you remember as the most important? Are there any repetitive themes? How can they inform your choices for the next stage of your life?

Discovery Process

There are many ways you can discover your family treasures, including:

  • Journals and diaries that you and others have kept, or currently write.
  • Asking other relatives what they remember about events that you remember – their memories may be illuminating.
  • Allow other relatives to interview you with their own questions which you may never have thought of.
  • Record your discoveries to share in the future by writing them down, or by making audio or video recordings.

Sharing Your Stories

Family members may think they know each other well when they have grown up together. Other relatives may know each other superficially because they see each one another infrequently. Instead of keeping conversations on a mundane level, I encourage you to share the wisdom you have accumulated throughout your life when you reach your retirement years. Your stories will allow others of all generations to know and appreciate you more. Your perspectives on life can inform family members of new ways of experiencing life.

Throughout the ages, and in other cultures, the wisdom of the elders has been highly regarded. I recommend that you gather your own stories and the stories of your family and actively keep them alive by sharing them with one another often.

What family treasures will you discover in your encore years?

Janice Williams, Retirement Coach,

Design Your Encore Years

Unfolding encore yearsWhen you search the Internet for information related to retirement lifestyle planning, what words do you enter into the search boxes?

There are many terms that have been used to describe the age range of 50-75, such as midlife, retirement, old age.

Because people are living healthier, longer lives that ever before, many of these terms no longer seem to adequately describe this stage of life. In the beginning of our lives, we have terms like childhood and adolescence that designate specific age ranges. Why not create a new term for this new stage of life?

With so many Baby Boomers living longer, active lifestyles during the years often known as retirement, it is time to create a new standard term for this period of life that is more positive than retirement which means to withdraw.

Marc Freedman has been championing the use of the term encore years to designate the years between midlife and old age. These are years when you can leverage your knowledge, wisdom, and expertise to live your own fulfilling life, make a contribution that is beneficial to society, and leave a legacy of your choice.

Freedman’s two books, Encore and The Big Shift, include inspiring case studies of people who have applied their life experiences in new ways to help solve some of society’s greatest challenges after they left their full time work world. For more information, please refer to his web site,

I support Freedman’s use of the term encore years to designate the emerging gift of additional active life. Let’s retire the word retirement and all the others so that everyone can look forward to and engage in this vibrant stage of life, rather than feel overwhelmed by the unknown future. You can design your own fulfilling lifestyle in your encore years, which may include continuing to work full time or part time, volunteering full time or part time, a combination of enjoying making a contribution along with living at a more leisurely pace. This stage of life is new, free of prescribed roles and responsibilities. It is your unique time to thrive.

Again, when you search the Internet for information related to retirement lifestyle planning, what words do you enter into the search boxes? Next time, include the term encore years.

Janice Williams, Retirement Coach,

What Will Your Encore Spiral Include?

Encore spiral in retirementBaby Boomers may have lived their professional lives by following a straight-line path of career development and climbing the corporate ladder. When you retire from the demands of those commitments, you have the opportunity to explore other options for living your life with the fulfillment of making a contribution as your Encore.

Think of the path in your retirement lifestyle as a spiral, rather than a straight line. Give yourself permission to feel expansive when you choose how you spend your time. Your retirement years are a time to learn new ways of doing and being. You will find some things that will be what you want to include in your life, others not so much. And each time you try something new, you will build upon what you have learned before.

You are the designer of your Encore Spiral, which can include the following loops:

Time to Relax

Take advantage of periods for relaxation and relief as you let go of your previous committed lifestyle. Allow yourself to grieve any loss you may experience as you move away from your past.

Time to Explore

Exploring new activities and interests will stimulate you on all levels – mentally, physically, and emotionally. Relish the renewed energy you feel as you create your retirement lifestyle.

Time to Wander

There will be times that you may feel like simply wandering aimlessly to check out what seems right for you in the next short term. The expansiveness of this wandering allows unsought opportunities to appear in your life.

Time to Contribute

You will experience a desire for greater fulfillment from making a contribution to others as your Encore in your retirement years. You can leverage your knowledge, wisdom, and expertise that you built during your full time work world.

My Encore Spiral

After leaving my full time work world in 2006, I have enjoyed an Encore Spiral of my own. I regularly spend time relaxing in nature and with friends. I continue to explore new activities to keep me stimulated, such as classes on painting and writing, as well as Internet marketing to support my retirement coaching practice at I allow myself to wander into unfamiliar situations to discover new opportunities, such as taking a dance class to stretch my body in new ways. And, I contribute by volunteering in several organizations which has given me new communities of friends to enjoy.

What can you offer in your retirement lifestyle that would be fulfilling to you and that would make a contribution to the lives of others as your Encore?

Janice Williams, Retirement Coach,