Are you ready for retirement? Or perhaps partial retirement? Maybe it’s time to assess your current position and your central life challenge. To help you address this issue, I am going to encourage you to take this life challenge quiz.
This quiz is not mine. I heard it years ago from one of my favorite speakers and authors, Angeles Arrien. She observed that there are five universal shapes in the cultures of the world. In no particular order, those shapes are the circle, the square, the triangle, the cross (equal dimensional), and the spiral.
I will ask you what she asked of the audience that day. First, on a piece of paper, draw the five shapes. Study them for a moment. Then write down a ranking of your five favorite shapes from your most favorite to your least favorite.
It sounds simple, but it can tell you a lot about yourself. So, spoiler alert. Do not read any further until you have drawn those five shapes and ranked your choices. Done? Good.
Let me explain some general concepts, and then I will explain the specifics of your rankings. Then you can re-evaluate your current life challenges and address the bigger question about retirement – and the direction of your retirement.
Here are the general themes of the five shapes …
Square … It represents stability and security. It is associated with individuals who want to establish a solid foundation for their life. These people are high producers who accept responsibility and accountability.
Circle … It represents wholeness but with independence. It is associated with individuals who want more space to achieve their goal of independence. They are ready, right now, to establish that independence.
Triangle … It represents a search for new goals. It is associated with individuals who are dreamers, wanting to chase their dreams. These people have a central primary fear: that they will not be able to find a new dream.
Cross … It represents a desire for collaboration and intersection with others. It is associated with individuals who want more quality time with others. Their actions, consciously or unconsciously, are focused on improving those relationships.
Spiral … It represents variety, complication, and chaos. It is associated with individuals who want a complicated, busy, multi-tasking, and different life style. These are the individual who excel in this type of this environment – an environment where many people cannot tolerate the level of constant uncertainty.
Now, here is how those shapes reflect who you are today and how they reflect your challenges for the coming year, including your decision on whether you need a life change and are ready for retirement or perhaps partial retirement.
Your first choice and your last choice represent the major conflict in your life. For example, if your first choice was the square and your last choice was the spiral, the key tension in your life is the conflict between your desire for stability and security versus your desire for new experiences and taking some risks. So, compare your first choice and your last choice. They represent your dilemma.
Your first choice often represents where you think you are at this point in your life while your third choice represents where you (actually) are at this point in your life. It is your third choice that will clarify your need for change, plus your suitability for retirement or partial retirement.
From this life challenge quiz, here is what I recommend. Unless your third choice was a square and you are wedded to security (which some experts claim is the lowest form of happiness), I would encourage you to consider making changes to your life, including retirement or partial retirement, but base those changes on your emotional needs, not your financial needs. From my perspectives, this third shapes give you a hint at the best direction for making those changes.
For those people with a circle as their third choice, go for a new independence, far removed from your current work, but combined with a balance between wholeness and independence. For those people with a triangle for their third choice, start changing your life by creating a brand new set of goals and dreams, (again) far removed from your current career. For those people with a cross as your third choice, set up a retirement that gives you the best chance for many close relationships. Lastly, for those people with a spiral as your third choice, realize that staying “put” will not suffice. You have a need for adventure and excitement, despite the unpredictability, and you need to take the necessary risks to find greater happiness.
In summary, there is one central message with this quiz. We all have different emotional climates and different emotional needs, but only a few of us are better off on the employment conveyor belt of life. If you have the financial means, and even if you do not quite have the financial means, now is still the time to assess your life challenges and try to redesign your new life to fit your emotional needs, not your financial needs.
As I have repeatedly said, your emotional needs should trump your financial needs for any major change in your life, including retirement. I have seen many people retire to less money, but find much more happiness – and a happiness that resolves those emotional issues found in those shapes. So, regardless of what shape you selected for your third choice, it beats the shape of a rectangle – a coffin. Go for it. See life through an emotional lens, not a financial lens. Take some risks. Start making some changes. And consider retirement or at least partial retirement. Remember: partial retirement is sometimes the first step toward freedom.