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I can’t remember a day in my adult life where I haven’t seen or heard something about retirement planning. From advertisements in magazines to invitations to fancy restaurants for a “free” dinner and a retirement planning talk in my mailbox, Americans seem obsessed with retirement planning. My daughter, a college student even gets information about planning for retirement almost as much as I do.
As one who is semi-retired, and sixty, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to what retirement looks like. Some people seem to make happy transitions to retirement, while others do not.
As I think about the successful retirees I know, I note that they have focused on more than financial planning. Certainly being prepared for retirement financially is important. One can have all the money and free time in the world and find themselves miserable. In fact, sometimes the freedom we long for in our working years is the very thing that causes us to unravel in retirement. But that needn’t be the case. With a little forethought and planning, the transition from working to retirement can be smooth and enjoyable. Here are a few things to consider:
Embrace Passion Projects:
A couple of years before my father retired, he began to focus on his long time love of photography. One summer, he attended a photographic workshop in New Mexico, and fell in love with Santa Fe. He returned to Santa Fe two more summers becoming more immersed in the photographic community, and getting to know the area. Ultimately, he chose to move there. His days centered around photography, re-creating a Monk’s garden as a volunteer for the national park service, and learning the art of making marbled paper at the local museum. Oh, and he also played tennis. These activities brought him in contact with others, taught him new skills and kept him active. Having spent time in Santa Fe in advance and having made a few friends helped make his transition into retirement and a new community much smoother.
Planning ahead together:
If you are in a committed relationship, planning together is key; I can tell you this from first hand experience. As my former husband and I neared retirement, I began to see that we had significant differences in how we wanted to spend our retirement years; where we wanted to live and what we wanted to spend our time doing. One of the reasons I left the relationship was that I couldn’t see us spending our retirement years together.
With Roger, planning together and spending time together is a centerpiece of our relationship, and I can tell you it makes a huge difference. We enjoy spending the majority of time together, but we each have some of our own interests and activities as well. It forms the perfect blend of alone and together time, and it’s really wonderful to both be deeply passionate about our hobbies together.
Focusing on things that matter:
Pursuing careers and raising families in our working years leaves us with little time for spouses and deeper connections with friends. Often our social lives revolve around work related activities. While fun, they aren’t quite the same as spending time with friends and family without the specter of work pressures and time limitations. Retirement offers us the freedom to focus our attention and time on the people in our lives we cherish.
Joining social groups:
My in-laws enjoyed almost thirty years in retirement and were very active. The two owned a motor home and joined travel groups, as well as being active with veteran’s groups. Finding special interest groups abound, and are easy to find. Alumni associations, service organizations, and informal groups abound. Getting out and about with others helps keep things interesting.
Enhancing formal education:
A few years back, I attended a social event at my old alma mater. I was seated with a group of seniors who were involved in the college’s “experienced learner” program. It included travel, famous guest speakers and the ability to audit college courses. As I reflect, I am now eligible for this program! I need to hop on line and check it out! Retirement gives us the opportunity to explore intellectually, which is fun and good for our brains.
Allow yourself to sleep in, enjoy a little spontaneity, bask in the freedom you have earned. Now you can run all your errands on weekdays, and avoid rush hour. Let me tell you, that changes life considerably. Spend time out doors if you’ve had an indoor job. While setting a schedule definitely helps, keep it flexible.
If you do find yourself a little blue, take heart, you aren’t alone. It’s not uncommon for people to feel a bit down as they adjust. If, like my father, you find that you aren’t totally happy with your living arrangements, you an always move, which is exactly what he did. After a few years in Santa Fe, he moved to Prescott Arizona, and found the slower pace a little more to his liking. Nothing is set in stone.
Sometimes, we need help working our way through various issues in our lives. I have turned to therapy several times along my path to healing. Recently, I learned about Better Help, an online non-emergency mental health program that pairs you with an online therapist. It’s completely confidential and because it’s all done online you don’t have to worry about going in for an appointment. Click HERE for more information. *this is an affiliate link
Are you getting ready to retire, or have you done so already? I’d love to see your thoughts on retirement below.