Planning for Retirement? Don’t Forget This Key Step
Dear Rich Lifer,
After working 25, 30, 35 years, or longer, you might think that retirement will be like a permanent vacation where you sit back with your feet up and watch the world whiz by.
But it’s not.
Retiring is a life changer, it can be a shock to your system, and it’s not all fun.
In fact, it may actually be the toughest job you’ve ever had.
That’s because one of the biggest challenges you’ll face for the next decade or two or three is:
How Will You Spend Your Time?
The first year or so is usually a piece of cake. You knock out those home projects that you’ve put off forever. Maybe play golf or go fishing a few times a week.
Or perhaps you take a cruise, or two, just to get away from it all. Even retirees need a vacation.
However, such experiences are pleasures. Short ones at that.
Will they be enough?
If you’re not sure, it’s time for a reality check. And doing so before you retire can make the next phase of your life much more fulfilling.
Plus once you know the lifestyle you hope to have in retirement, you’ll be able to determine how much money you’ll need to retire. Keep in mind, though, that money is just a tool, not an end in itself.
Now think back …
One of the first things we’re frequently asked when meeting someone is:
“What Do you Do?”
When you’re working, the answer was easy. Your career was your purpose. Be it because you enjoyed it, it gave you a sense of fulfillment, or you simply needed the money.
Raising a family may have played a key role in your life, too.
It defined you.
But now that you’re retired, or close to retiring, those responsibilities are in the past or soon ending.
So coming up with an answer is not easy.
That’s why your retirement plan needs to include a sense of purpose.
What activities and interests will make you want to get out of bed each morning? And I’m not referring only to activities that give you pleasure.
The Japanese call it:
The word means the thing you live for, a reason for being, a sense of purpose, and it comes from within. Each individual’s ikigai is personal to them and specific to their lives, values, and beliefs.
Research reveals that people with a sense of purpose had a 15% lower risk of death compared to those who said they were more or less aimless. They are less likely than others to develop Alzheimer’s disease, suffer a stroke, have chronic health conditions, and experience sleep problems.
It comes down to having a meaningful life … the idea that your life makes sense, you’re here for a reason, and you’re significant in the world.
What’s more, some studies have found that having a meaningful life is more important to good health than exercise and nutrition.
It begins with …
Developing a Routine
While working you likely had a routine. It might have been a 9-5 job or something similar. Nonetheless, you still had to do something or be somewhere on a regular basis.
Retirement isn’t any different.
Visualize your future. Who you will be, where, and why.
Create a schedule so that you’re making the best use of your time. A schedule can keep you on track and help you avoid the boredom that can come after living a busy working life for many years.
What will your typical day, week, and month look like?
Will you start each morning with a bike ride at the park, a walk on the beach, or a workout at the gym? Maybe a cup of coffee on the patio while reading the newspaper is more to your liking.
But then what? Daytime TV?
Where to Find Your Sense of Purpose, Your Ikigai
You could go back to school. As baby boomers retire and are no longer nailed down with family responsibilities and hectic work schedules, many want to increase their knowledge and explore new interests.
And there are colleges that offer programs for free or almost free!
Or … try something new.
Retirement can be a time to take on new challenges and step out of your comfort zone.
Have you always wanted to play the guitar but never had the time? Or how about skiing? Too old or worried what others might think?
Poppycock! You’ve earned the right to take chances.
There are plenty of folks just like you. Meetup is a great source for locating local groups that focus on exactly the activities that interest you.
Getting involved and giving back to your community is a great way to meet others and develop a sense of purpose.
And there’s no shortage of organizations seeking volunteers.
For instance, America’s veterans and their families often need help. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a page where you can find opportunities in your area.
Nursing homes, advocacy groups, food bank, churches, libraries … the list is endless.
What skills did you develop over your working years? Public speaking, resume writing, home maintenance, a foreign language?
How can you put those skills to use?
One way is by teaching others at your local community center or continuing education programs.
This part of your retirement isn’t cast in stone. Interests and priorities change. You’re allowed to drop or add activities whenever you wish.
So review it every year, just like the financial part of your retirement plan.
Time Is Your Most Valuable Asset
You don’t have enough time for everything you want to accomplish in life. Once it’s gone, you can’t get it back. As the saying goes: We ain’t getting out of this alive.
So use it wisely.
As Sophia Loren put it:
“There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”
In other words, retiring from work does not mean retiring from life. And including a purpose section within your retirement planning can make those years a meaningful reality.
To a richer life,