Retirement isn’t about endings. It’s about moving forward and embracing new possibilities.
Think of your post-working years in terms of rebalancing, reimagining and even reinventing rather than just retiring. Retirement is an opportunity to create a life that truly reflects who you are.
There is often a lot of uncertainty that comes with a major life change, and retirement certainly falls into that category. Are you ready for a radical shift in your daily life?
Set finances aside for the moment, and think about what will be left in your life once you take work out of the equation. How will you view your identity? Do you have hobbies or volunteer activities that you are actively involved in? How often do you get together with friends? Do you have friends outside of work? Do you exercise? Is it often enough?
Do you wish to travel? Do you have someone to travel with if you don’t want to travel alone? Do you have goals or dreams that have nothing to do with earning a paycheck, or that you have been putting off until there was “more time” to finally realize them?
Identify a mix of activities that will provide meaning and fulfillment to your life and think about how to integrate them into your new schedule. This could include income-producing or volunteer work, classes, activities, community service and more time for friends and family.
The goal? To make sure that we are living life with purpose and that we aren’t putting off our goals or desires until some future date when we will either be fully retired, or wealthy, or (hopefully) both. The best time to realize our goals and to get out there to do the things that we want to do is while we are healthy, happy and mobile.
When we move toward retirement, our focus shifts to what we’d like our ideal life to be like. Successfully making this shift means creating a menu which could incorporate a new business, learning, recreation, travel, volunteer work, family, friends and personal fulfillment. Visualize your life as a pie that allocates time and attention to the pursuits that you value the most.
What does your “ideal retirement” look like? What types of activities will it include? This is your opportunity to create a plan for how you want to spend the rest of your time on earth. This is not about the end of a chapter. It is about envisioning a new beginning.
Ask yourself: What will it take to achieve your goals and to create the balance that you want in life? This is how you create a plan to make it happen, one step at a time.
Start by making a list of the things that are most important for you to have in your daily life. Sample categories could include: personal, professional, financial, physical needs, and spiritual needs and goals. The importance of the items in each list will give you a feel for their proportions in your retirement pie.
Play with the proportions of the elements until it feels right. Keep your pie in a place where you can see it daily. The chart will remind you of what your priorities are.
In my book, Retiring Solo, I discuss different strategies that can help you plan for an independent future that is happy, healthy, active and filled with a sense of community.
Keep in mind that you are planning a lifestyle. Goals are guidelines, and should remain flexible. Retirement is a journey, not a destination. It should always be a work in progress.
Think about whether what you are doing now is going to get you to where you want to go. If not, adjust. Retirement, more than any other period in our lives, should be a time when we are most able to go with the flow and adapt.
How do you plan on spending your retirement years? Are there parts of your current life that you hope to devote more time to? Have you thought about what your daily schedule will be like once you stop working? How will you create balance if there are too many demands on your time? We look forward to your comments.