Photo attributed to safeconcerts.com. This photo resource is used for education, criticism or research purposes. I do not derive any financial benefit from the use of this photo.
First of all I mean no disrespect to this couple but their photo illustrates an important point. Is this the look of retirement that you want to project when your time comes along? No–me either. Gratifying retirement experiences are carefully planned–they just don’t happen. The planning stage needs to start 3-4 years before you actually do it:
- To start you need to be sure this is what you want. You need to commit to the idea and for all the right reasons. When I look at the pic above is see folks who didn’t do their planning. Many become addicted to work for 40-45 years. It becomes their identity and all they know. Retirement poses a real challenge because their social structure is completely wrapped up in what they do and how they do it. The main question soon becomes: “If I don’t work what will I do?”
- Retirement should not mean the end of something but rather the beginning of something. However, how many folks let the obvious questions about ‘what will I do to not be bored’ and ‘who will I play with’ freeze them in their tracks when thinking about ‘retirement.’ This is where planning becomes so important. I also suggest that we stop calling it ‘retirement’ and start referring to this period of our lives as our ‘new life’.
- DO NOT let $$ determine when you begin to enjoy your new life. Obviously you have to have enough to satisfy your needs but how much is enough? This partially depends on what you want to do. If it’s world travel then you’ll need a bit more. If it’s travelling all the great ‘riding roads’ in North America on your motorcycle then it might take a bit more. The point is money should not dictate when you go. You will never think or believe you have enough.
- TIP #1–make sure that you have all your ‘toys’ (motorcycles, boats, golf clubs etc.) bought and paid for before you begin your new life. If you don’t then that needs to be one of the goals in your preparation.
- There is certainly a mental preparation piece that needs to be acknowledged. This new life can be very challenging at first. Remember that you have been working for a long time with routines, habits and coping strategies in place. You wont need them once you walk away from the ‘old life’ but you will need to create new strategies to fill your time. A year or two before you actually walk away begin to think about what you will do when your time is your own.
- TIP #2–start to investigate other interests and passions. These can be activities/passions that you have often thought about doing but didn’t have the resources or the time to pursue. Perhaps it’s about getting involved in politics or community programs/projects. Start to think outside the box. That’s important if this is going to be a good experience.
- People often comment on the money issues (see #3) but are pleasantly surprised when they realize that they actually spend less money on weekly living expenses than when they were working.
- Be sure to discuss your retirement plans with family especially your partner. Do this early in the planning/thinking. If your partner is still working and plans to stay at work for another year or so how does that fit into the overall planning? Will he/she be OK with you being involved in a new life with different friends doing different things. Often times partners can get a bit jealous and envious of your new found excitement. You might find that the ‘honey do’ list has grown dramatically.
- TIP #3–be sure to, periodically, ask your significant other how he/she feels about your pending new life. Your decision may encourage your partner to think about their own retirement plans. Be sure to share plans that have changed or new interests and new activities or hobbies you are thinking about checking out. This is a transition for everyone not just you. They need to feel that they are still important and have a place in the ‘new life’ you are or will be enjoying.
- Be sure to develop new friendships outside of your former workplace. Start this a year or so before your transition from ‘old’ to ‘new’ happens. This doesn’t mean that you don’t continue on with some relationships from work but if you only associate with ‘old’ buddies you will only share what is going on with them in what was your old life. New friends reflect what is coming up and not what has gone by.
There is much to think about. Start putting some thoughts/plans together about how you would like things to be as soon as possible. If you follow these simple suggestions it will be a great experience. One of the realizations that came to me while I was planning for my new life was I was, finally, going to be in control of my own TIME. What a liberating feeling. I hope all that follow will catch the same buzz.
Anyways, that’s how I see things.
All the best, Jim.
Please pass this along to friends and family with thanks.
Comments can be directed to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org OR jimcloughley.com