When Fred decided to take an early retirement option after spending his career managing a branch of a large corporate bank, pill he looked forward to more golfing and enjoying endless leisurely activities. About a year into retirement he realized he was not ready for this lifestyle, pharmacy not to mention he was driving his wife crazy. He needed more purpose in his life so he took a part time, sales role to add dimension to his retirement lifestyle. Fred is typical of today’s retiree.
For so many years, the insurance companies promised Freedom 55 and we believed it. We even built our plans around it, but not many were successful. In fact, recent research shows that as many as 75% of boomers do not have the financial resources to support their lifestyle in retirement. The financial industry collapse in late 2008 didn’t help either. And heath care costs continue to rise as our need for these services increases. It’s looking more like Freedom 75.
Fortunately, boomers are living longer and healthier which means that many want to continue to work, at a reduced schedule perhaps. With baby boomers retiring in large numbers, organizations are struggling to fill the void that is left. There are simply not enough workers in the younger generations to replace all these boomers. Some estimate that 3 in 7 or 42% of boomers will not be replaced. Organizations are paying attention. This means that opportunities will be there and can be a great alternative to supplement retirement income for those who want to work.
Retirement is a bit like winning the lottery. Every time someone is asked what they would do if they won the lottery, they say three things; they will buy a house, buy a new car and take a vacation. It’s difficult to think any bigger. Looking at something new is never easy. Imagining retirement is no different, especially with few role models to show us the way. Let’s face it; there are only so many golf games to be played and trips to take. For many, the idea of looking at the final trimester of their life as a new beginning is a bit daunting. We are so conditioned to look at it as an ending.
In the first trimester of their lives, dubbed the hippie years, boomers were busy making love not war, learning about themselves and idealistic about changing the world. During the second trimester, the yuppie years, boomers were busy making a life, raising families and building careers. In the final trimester, boomers will be busy reinventing themselves and turning the concept of retirement on its head. They no longer see retirement as the swan song of their life. Instead, they see an opportunity to re-imagine their life, try new things, take risks, make a fresh start, embark on a new journey, start a new career and travel the world. Idealism is still very much alive, albeit tempered with a dose of wisdom.
Being idealistic means we have tons of ideas about what retirement can look like. The question then becomes; what’s possible. Like any major transition in life, we need a new plan. We need a financial plan to support the lifestyle we want and a plan to reorient ourselves psychologically as we redefine what retirement means. We are fairly good at financial planning and have access to tons of information to help us manage. We have fewer resources to guide and support us through the psychological transition of retirement. A coach can support you through your transition and it may be the best investment you make in yourself.
Begin scratching the surface by taking a look at different aspects of your life and make a list of the goals you have in each area. In my research I have found 12 unique aspects that lead to a balanced life and they are grouped below in four categories. Think about what you’d like to be doing in each of these aspects during your retirement years.
Social life – life partner, family and friendships. You will be spending more time with your partner so what common interests do you want to pursue together? What are your plans to pursue individual interests? How much time do you want to spend with your family? Do you want to live near them or visit regularly? What common interests do you have with your friends and are there projects you’d like to pursue together?
Physical life – vocation, health, leisure and financial. Are you planning to continue to work? How many hours are you interested in working each week and will it be the same type of work that you are doing now? What goals do you have to maintain or improve on your health? Do you want to make adjustments to your nutrition and physical activities? What leisurely activities are on your bucket list and are they realistic?
Spiritual life – community, spirituality. How much time do you want to give to your community through volunteer work, sitting on boards or other activities? Are you more globally oriented and thinking about volunteer work in poorer countries? What more do you want to achieve in your spiritual life?
Intellectual life – knowledge, environment and sense of self. What will you do to keep learning (courses, skills, etc.) and growing? What activities will you engage in to stimulate the mind? You can only read so many books. What type of home do you want and in what location? So often we assess our sense of self through our careers. When work is no longer a major part of our everyday activities, it’s easy for our self-worth to be impacted. What will you do to maintain positive self-esteem? Having a list of activities to look forward to everyday is a good place to begin.
These are not easy decisions and trying to make them all at once will surely overwhelm you. Set time aside to consider each aspect on its own and seek professional help if necessary. No one says you have to do it alone and it’s always more fun working with others. A clear plan will give you confidence that you’re on the right track psychologically as well as financially. Think of the amazing legacy you will continue to build for those who matter most to you. And in the process, you can look forward to checking off every item on your bucket list.