What my plan looks like

I bought my first knickknack for my new place, although I don’t know yet where that will be. I am almost an empty nester. My daughter is a rising high school senior. I have decided that regardless of where she decides to go to college, my four-bedroom house is too much and the property taxes – without a child in the school system – are too high. So this time next year it will be time to downsize. That much of the plan I know.

The other piece of my plan that I’ve been working on is transitioning my career. I now have the flexibility and more control I’ve wanted. Working on the income part. I have enough resources to allocate the time I need to realistically build my business. When my daughter and I first started looking at colleges two years ago, I told her to find the right school regardless of it’s location and I would move within a couple hours drive.

No. I am not a helicopter parent. Far from it. And even if I tried to be anything similar, my daughter would not allow it. Right now we now are both 800 miles from home. She is currently attending a 3-credit college course at the college that is tops on her list. So this is a dress-rehearsal of sorts. She’s getting used to being away from home, and I’m getting used to her being away.  While we are in the same city, we are here for different reasons and maintaining our independence.

I’m a widowed single parent, I grew up as an only child and my parents are deceased. There isn’t a lot holding me in New Jersey. To further draw me away, I fell in love with a man who lives in Illinois. Thankfully, the stars somehow aligned and this college course that my daughter – my only child – is attending is in Chicago. She found this college on her own. I am helping to make it accessible to her, but I am not pushing (but honestly, wow! how cool would that be?).

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I am pushing us both to make some sort of a big change. We need a big change. We have called the same place home for all our lives. For her that’s 17 years. For me, a little longer.  I think the prospect of moving on is exhilarating. With her father’s death almost 3 years ago, transformation was thrust upon us. Initially, we held on to the familiar. We agreed to stay in the house we all shared simply because it was easier. It was less disruptive to our lives that had already been turned on end.

Now we’re ready for change. Change, when it can be planned for, is good. If you haven’t read last week’s post (6 Reasons to Have a Plan), do so now.  When my daughter was born, I thought I was doing everything right. I had a will. A financial plan. Was saving for college and retirement. But I didn’t have a clear vision of what I wanted my life after 50 to look like. Just like it’s hard for a 20-something to think about long-term financial planning, even into our 40s, we are in denial about what will happen after the kids leave home.

I’ve noticed from working with some of my clients and just seeing what others have to say on social media, this is common. It’s why there is a mid-life crisis, why the divorce-rate for 50-something’s is climbing, and (thankfully) why Life Coaches are in demand.  Besides needing help with figuring out what to do, and getting motivated to follow through, there is often a bunch of emotional baggage to work through before we can focus on planning.

I’m in the middle of working my plan and know I will be feeling a lot of emotions as I pack up a house I’ve lived in for 10 years and leave the congested New York City suburban county that has been home for over 50 years. Having a plan is preparing me, helping me anticipate the emotions, letting change happen more gradually, and showing me there’s always room on a shelf for a reminder of the distance I’ve traveled.

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