You’ve scrimped and saved and set aside all your working years so that when you reached “that age”—whatever it may be for you—you could say farewell to the 9 to 5 grind. You’re financially comfortable. You’re ready to relax and do what you want for the rest of your days. You’ve earned it, right? The answer to that is a resounding, “Yes!” Of course you’ve earned it. Congratulations on reaching this fabulous milestone!
So, my question to you is this: What are you going to do with the rest of your life? Having 40 or so extra hours a week sounds wonderful right now, but what about after you’ve gotten all those “honey dos” completed and caught up on every Netflix series you’ve missed? Have you thought about what your life will look like after your retirement “honeymoon” phase has run its course?
Working in the financial industry, I’ve seen my fair share of clients who are financially ready to retire. They’re easy to spot…they’ve got this far away look in their eyes, a certain lightness to their steps, a sweet smile on their faces, and they walk around humming the tune to “Margaritaville”! They make me happy. And they also make me wonder if they are truly prepared for the life of a retiree.
You see, financial planning is only part of the work one needs to do before leaving the workforce forever. It’s equally important to prepare for the non-financial aspects of retirement. I’ve created a short list of activities for you to consider that will help you prepare for those other aspects of retirement.
- Create a personal mission statement. You know who you were when you were working, and I bet a lot of your identity is tied up with your working self. Who are you now that you’re retired? What is your purpose in life going forward? Identifying those things that motivate you will keep you going on those days where you feel purposeless.
- Cultivate personal relationships. Remember all those friends you put on the backburner because you were working all the time? Get out your little black book and make a point to re-connect with them. If they don’t pick up because you blew them off too many times to count, make new friends. Future friends are literally everywhere! Building and maintaining relationships will ensure a sense of fulfillment and provide a support system throughout your retirement.
- And don’t forget to cultivate your relationship with the most important person in your life…your spouse. Did you know that there is a new term now known as “Gray Divorce”? It refers to the phenomenon of divorce among older adults, typically those who are 50 years old or older and is called “gray” because it is associated with aging. It’s an increasing trend. It makes me sad to think that one could devote most of their adulthood to another person only to see the relationship crumble at a time when both partners should be looking forward to being together during the golden years. Relationships don’t come easy, and failure to work on your marital relationship from beginning to end can result in a terrible outcome for everyone. So, retire from your job, but don’t stop working on your relationship with your life partner.
- Get physically and mentally fit! This is a crucial element during retirement. You’re going to want to be able to keep up with those beautiful grandchildren of yours. And as much as you might like, their abundant energy doesn’t rub off when they are near! Staying fit has other perks as well. Keeping your body in tip-top shape will assist you in dodging the endless list of ailments that may come knocking on your door. Additionally, exercise has a positive impact on mental and cognitive health by reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Probably the best benefit of fitness after retirement is that it allows you to fully embrace the wonders of life. Whether it’s taking leisurely strolls in the park, hiking breathtaking trails, or mastering new activities, being fit opens doors to endless adventures. Who said retirement was all about afternoon naps and a rousing game of bingo?
- Don’t stop learning. Now that you’ve got a lot of time on your hands, why don’t you learn that foreign language you’ve always wanted to speak? Or write that book that’s been in your head but not on paper? Or maybe even take some cooking classes or become a sommelier? Picking up old hobbies or activities that you put off during your working years and learning new things in your retirement will bring joy, personal growth, and a sense of purpose to your life.
- Give back to your community. Ask a group of retirees if it’s better to give than receive, and I bet they will tell you that giving back is the most rewarding of endeavors. Just because you’ve hung up your office attire doesn’t mean you should hang up your social conscience. There are many ways to give back. Start a reverse mentoring program where tech-savvy youngsters teach retirees all about the latest gadgets, social media trends, and emojis. Then turn around and teach them how to write in cursive and correctly spell words and punctuate sentences! Good with money? Work with the younger generation and teach them how to create a budget, balance their checkbook, and save for their future. Volunteer in your grandchildren’s schools or get involved in a cause close to your heart. There are many organizations that would love to have a devoted volunteer with your experience, knowledge, and abundance of time!
- Ban the “O word” from your vocabulary. Old. That’s the word I’m talking about. Old. In most instances I’m a staunch proponent of free speech. However, I’ve banned the use of this word in my home. It’s a horrible word with so many negative connotations. Use that word to describe a bottle of wine or a nice cheese where it is a positive attribute. But leave it out of references to yourself! There’s a great song that I heard at one of our clients’ memorial service called Don’t Let the Old Man In. The chorus goes like this:
Many moons I have lived
My body's weathered and worn
Ask yourself how old you'd be
If you didn't know the day you were born
- Your age is just a number. I believe that being old is a choice. You can choose to give in to age or you can actively fight against it. I encourage you to listen to this song and barricade the door to your mind. Never let the old man in.
Now that I’ve given you your retirement peptalk, what are you going to do? Are you going to prepare yourself for a purposeful, fulfilling, friend-filled, fun-loving third act? Or are you going to let the old man in? The choice is yours!
- Jan Taylor