In past articles I have discussed why you need to have financial plan entering retirement. Just as important as your financial plan is your personal fulfillment plan. Also known as, “What Am I Going to Do With Myself Once I Retire Plan.”
In the course of my everyday business I run into two distinct kinds of people.
- Work to Live People.
- Live to Work People.
The first type, often times women (but not always), find that when they retire, their schedule is almost immediately filled up. My mother is a good example. After teaching elementary school, she very quickly adjusted and thrived in her new, retired life. She’s involved with the grandkids, she visits elderly relatives, she volunteers at the local women’s shelter, and she spends time doing the things she didn’t have time for while working.
The second type, often men (but again, not always), find that the entire concept of retirement is unpleasant. How are you going to stay busy? How are you going to stay active and healthy? My dad is good example for this type. He had the opportunity to retire in his mid-60s but he decided to continue on in his business, and he is still working today. Granted he spends less hours working, but he likes having a productive and rewarding job to do.
There is no “right” way to retire.
Both of these are perfectly valid ways to live. There is no “good type” or “bad type” or retirement. It is entirely dependent on what is important to you. But the point I want to drive home in this article is: You need to plan for your life in retirement.
Don’t make the mistake of waking up on your first retired morning wondering, “What do I do now?” It is important to spend considerable time and thought determining what you want your retired years to look like.
Retirement is a unique opportunity to reinvent your life. Really, besides childhood, retirement is the only time in life that offers the freedom to create your life without other people telling you what to do.
I can help people feel more comfortable with their finances. I can help people find the perfect balance between spending too much and spending too little. But one thing I can’t do in the course of my professional life is to help you determine what your retired life looks like. But, I can tell you that you need to plan for retirement now, before you retire.
Plan your retired life before you retire.
You’ve seen the grandkids, taken a cruise, seen the Grand Canyon. You’ve completed the Bucket List … now what?
I’ve found that lasting, fulfilling, rewarding retirements center around two things: relationships and service. Of course, relationships and service are motivating factors throughout your entire life, but as you get older, I’ve found that these two concepts become even more central.
Let’s take a look at what other retirees have done.
- Mrs. Smith decided to take the earnings from her investments each year and put them toward church-building projects. One church has already been completed in Nepal, with another one being planned.
- Mrs. Jones wanted to pass on her passion for learning to her grandkids. She started doing weekly “classes” with each of her three grandkids. She prepares a relevant lesson based on current events and then engages each child in an hour-long discussion and study session.
- Mr. Williams is a retired CPA. He spends his free time at a local senior center, where he gives free tax and financial advice to other retirees. He sets aside three hours each day Monday through Friday, and his 30 minute sessions are simply first come, first serve.
- Mr. Smith loves to cook. When he retired from his career he quickly found a new passion: cooking large meals for families that were dealing with cancer. Mr. Smith found that not only was he able to provide meals for people in difficult situations, he also made a lot of new friends. In fact, Mr. Smith has never done work that was so rewarding.
- Mrs. Johnson dreaded retirement. She loved her job and she loved being busy. The best part of her job was helping younger managers develop and grow. In retirement, Mrs. Johnson started a consulting business whereby she would help mentor young executives who were working in a similar industry.
- Mr. Sherman had spent forty years in construction. As a college student he was heavily involved in amateur theater. Once retired, Mr. Sherman rekindled his passion for acting and theater. He found himself busy, making new friends, and amazing his friends and family as he prepared for a major role in production of a Midsummer’s Night Dream.
Now, don’t get me wrong. You might be perfectly happy working in your garden and hanging around the grandkids. I just want to encourage you to see that retirement can be anything you want it to be! It does require some planning and it might take a little while to find your niche. But you will!