Most people spend more time planning their annual vacation than they spend planning for the non-financial components of their retirement. Now that increased longevity has extended the lifespan of the average North American, people can anticipate living 20 – 30 years beyond the typical retirement age of 62 or 65. Since this is becoming known as a “second adulthood”, it deserves your time and attention to ensure that this time in your life is filled with meaning and purpose, health and well-being, and social engagement in addition to financial stability. It’s never too early to begin giving consideration to how you’d like to craft this part of your life. Here are three key tips I’d like to share that can help set you on the path to an easeful retirement transition.
- Create a plan well in advance
Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” It is an abrupt change from working full-time to having the expanse of 24 hours a day at your fingertips. Once the glow of an extended vacation wears off, you may find yourself clamoring to find another job, if you haven’t decided in advance how you’d like to spend your time. While working in some capacity may be a part of that plan, let that be a conscious choice rather than a reaction to feeling at loose ends. What would the perfect day or week look like for you in retirement? Creating some level of structure goes a long way toward staying engaged. Spend less time thinking about what you’re retiring from and more time considering what you’re retiring to.
- Think holistically
Financial security is a critical factor in retirement preparedness. Yet, it is far from the only thing to take into consideration. As you create your plan, look at all aspects of your life. What is important to you? What are the values and beliefs that provide meaning in your life? How will you sustain your mental and physical capabilities? Where will there be opportunities for connection to others? What hobbies might you want to pursue? How will you continue your personal development? How important is it to you to give back in some way?
Be sure to include your spouse or partner in your retirement planning. Do they work as well? When do you both want to be retired? What do you each want out of retirement? How can you work collaboratively to create a shared vision? What activities will you do together and where will you explore your interests on your own? How will you divide home related chores? How often will you see your children and grandchildren? What expectations do family members have of one another? Having these conversations in advance and getting on the same page will relieve a potential stressor down the road.
Be proactive and make this significant transition a rewarding and fulfilling next chapter in your life.