One thing about retirement is certain: there’s no one “right” way to go about it.
Many people view retirement as a very intimidating concept. You’ve spent a lifetime building a career you love. Or, in some cases, maybe you’ve spent a lifetime in a career that you don’t love – but it provides you with a purpose or a routine. Either way, making the transition from knowing what your purpose is every day to waking up and being a full-time retiree can be jarring to say the least.
People often view retirement as a static state of being: you go on a lot of vacations, spend time with the grandkids, golf every afternoon, and read your favorite paperback novels every day. Then you go to sleep, wake up, and do it all over again.
But the truth is that retirement is so much more dynamic than that vision we all have of this period in our lives. Most people will have between 20-40 years of retirement. That’s practically a quarter or more of your lifetime! Retirement is anything but a “blip” on the timeline of your life – it’s a huge part of your journey as a person. This is why it’s incredibly important to focus on planning for a fulfilling retirement – one that we can look forward to and enjoy as something more than an “end point” to our career.
Go Beyond the Numbers
Your first step in retirement planning is to go beyond the numbers. Planning for the dollars and cents of your retirement is important, but planning for your emotional wellbeing and lifestyle goals during retirement is equally important. When you’re thinking through your retirement budget, for example, take the time to ask yourself whether or not you’re making room for meaningful expenses.
These could be taking your grandkids on trips, traveling to exciting destinations you’ve always dreamed about, or committing to the big DIY home improvement project you’ve been itching to get started.
Whatever your “meaningful expenses” are – make sure they make their way into your budget, and have them be part of your savings goal. You’re not just saving so that you can scrape by during retirement, you’re saving so that you can live life on your terms.
Think of What’s Next For You
Imagine how you want to live your retirement in the same way you’d plan any other big milestone in your life. Do you remember the days when you planned your wedding? Or what about when you and your spouse or partner sat down and dreamed up what your nursery would look like after you got done refinishing the space? Take the same type of care to plan your retirement. It truly is the next leg of your life’s journey – so brainstorm what might be next for you!
You might decide that this next season of life is going to be all about getting healthy, or going on adventures, or committing to planting the big garden in your yard that you’ve always dreamed about. Maybe you want to meet new friends or focus on connecting with family more often. Or, maybe you don’t think that traditional retirement is right for you, and you want the next phase of your life to be focused on writing, volunteering, or teaching part-time for students who are interested in the industry you’re retiring from. Your options are endless – don’t be afraid to explore them!
Have a Plan
Retirement isn’t an end-point. If anything, it’s just turning the page and starting a new chapter of your life. Don’t expect to “wing it” and find fulfillment. Having a plan for how you want to spend your days, and what big-picture goals you want to accomplish during this season is so important both from a financial standpoint and from a wellness perspective. When you know that all of your needs have been planned for, and that you’ll be emotionally, physically, and financially okay – you can commit to enjoying your days as a retiree. And you deserve that!
If you’re worried you won’t be okay to retire, or that you’ll struggle with the financial and emotional aspects of this major life transition – schedule a consultation with me. Going this alone can be challenging, and if you’re already unsure if you’re emotionally ready to face retirement, talking to a third party to put together a plan for your money and your lifestyle can be a huge weight lifted from your shoulders.