One topic that we all have on our minds as we enter our 60s is how to successfully transition to retirement.

Of course, the meaning of the word “retirement” is different for everyone. Some people want to work for as long as they can, perhaps reducing their hours or changing their career focus. Others want to stop working entirely and relax to the max.

Regardless of where you fall on this spectrum, you probably have many questions about how to manage this phase of your life.

 
 

How much money do I need to retire? What should I do in retirement? How can I maintain my social bonds now that my kids have left the house? What is my purpose in life, now that my career is coming to an end, or, at the very least, slowing down?

The good news is that we have plenty of people in the Sixty and Me community who have already reached retirement age. Here are a few pieces of advice that they would like to give to their younger sisters.

Don’t Assume that You Will Be Able to Work

Many women in the community told me that they found themselves being pushed out of their jobs much earlier than they expected. This is important, because many of us have assumptions about how much money we will need to retire, based on how long we plan on working.

The best approach is to be as aggressive as possible in saving for your retirement. Even if you feel comfortable in your job now, try to imagine what would happen if you had to retire early. This may sounds a bit depressing, but, it’s a good thought exercise to go through. What would you do if you had to retire 2 years early? 5 years?

If You Want to Work, Be Prepared to Work for Yourself

Many people that I know have been quite successful as consultants or freelancers after they retire. Rather than relying on someone else to “give” them a job, these women are applying their skills to building their own business.

This is not as hard as it sounds. You don’t need to hire employees or rent an office. If you have professional skills, working your existing contacts may be enough to get started. In addition to running Sixty and Me, I still do freelance marketing work for large companies. In most cases, the people that I work with are ex-colleagues who know and trust my work.

Even if you don’t plan on retiring anytime soon, make sure that your LinkedIn profile is up to date and that you stay in contact with the people you have worked with in the past. For example, you can use a free service like Newsle to see when your friends and colleagues appear in the news. Then, when they are in the news, you can congratulate them in email. It’s a fantastic way to stay in touch.

Realize that Making Friends is Different After Retirement

Many women in the community have told me that making friends after retirement is challenging. Without our built-in social networks at work and home, it’s easy to become a little isolated.

Their advice is to realize that making friends after retirement requires a more proactive approach. Don’t assume that new people will come into your life “accidentally.” Make a list of your passions and get out into the world. In most cases, it’s easier to focus on finding things that you love to do, rather than searching for friends directly.

I can’t tell you how many women have told me that they wish they had invested in building friendships in the years leading up to retirement. The more you focus on your social life now, the happier you will be in retirement.

Understand that Fitness after 60 is a Choice

After retirement, we may not care as much what other people think of our appearance – but, we still want to look and feel healthy. Many women in the community told me that they wish they focused on their health in the years leading up to retirement.

The unfortunate truth is that, the older we get, the harder it is to lose weight or undo the damage that we have done to our bodies. If you are approaching retirement age, now is the time to get serious about your health. Join a gym. Find a sport or physical activity that you love. Join a walking club. Whatever you do, do something!

If you have already reached retirement age, understand that getting in shape is the single most important factor for how you will spend the next two decades of your life.

The longer you wait, the harder it will be to get in shape. If you are looking for a place to start, try the “one-minute technique.” It helped me to lose at least 20 pounds with very little will-power involved.

Think Long and Hard About Where to Retire

One of the biggest trade-offs that we have to make as we transition to retirement is whether to stay close to our families or move to another location.

Obviously, there is no “right” or “wrong” answer to this question. The only mistake is to take the default option without considering the pros and cons of both approaches. I know many women who are beyond happy that they decided to retire abroad. They say their quality of life is higher and they don’t mind staying in touch with their grandkids over Skype and when they visit.

Other women couldn’t imagine living so far away from their immediate family. For these women, being close to their grandkids is the most important thing in their lives and everything else is secondary.

If you are interested in finding out a bit more about why more people are making the decision to retire abroad, please check out this article.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Have you already retired? If so, what advice would you give to your Sixty and Me sisters who may be approaching retirement? Are you approaching retirement? If so, what is your single biggest fear? More importantly, what steps are you taking to address this fear? Please join the conversation and “like” and share this article to keep the discussion going!

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