What do you think about retirement?
Are you excited? Are you prepared? Will you ever retire? Will you always keep working? What will your retirement lifestyle look like?
Here’s one thing I know for sure: the only way to live how you want is to know how you want to live. With something as important as retirement, I highly encourage you to spend some extended time thinking about how you want your life to be in your “golden years.”
And I’m talking mostly about everything besides money.
I’m mostly talking about how to answer this question, “What will you replace what work gives you?”
Have you ever thought about that? Because it’s a lot.
In my 20+ years as a financial advisor, I’ve guided many people through this conversation. It’s my goal to do the same for you.
There are at least six important things work provides us that may need to be replaced by something else. Here are the six things:
- A place to go
- Something to do
- Money and benefits
- Meaning in responsibility
Let’s get started.
A place to go
This isn’t a trivial thing. While many of us have become comfortable working remotely or from home, the workplace will always be a thing. Many of us will spend 30 or 40 years waking up five days a week and going somewhere. What will you do when you retire?
Will you all of a sudden be happy and content just staying at home? Or will you need to find somewhere to be able to go consistently?
I’m not saying you should or you shouldn’t. What I know is that old habits die hard, and that it’s wise to prepare yourself should you desire a way to get out of your house from time to time.
Something to do
Obviously, work gives us something to do. When you retire, what will you do all day? Commonly, people tell me they’re going to golf and volunteer. Those are fine and worthwhile activities.
The happiest retirees develop a robust list of activities and interests. Early on, they don’t make too many commitments, and leave a good amount of space in their calendars. This allows them to ease into their new lifestyle.
Doing the opposite is not a recipe for success. Not having any idea what you’ll do with your time is a poor idea that results in unhappiness. At the same time, making too many commitments early in your retirement is also not a good idea.
Spend some time and compile a list of things you’re interested in exploring. Give yourself time to adjust and find your way.
Money and benefits
While it’s not my intention or desire to get too deep into personal finance, you need to have a plan for handling your money and benefits.
If you’ll need income, what will you do to earn it? With the money you have saved, have you developed a plan for creating income that will last for as long as you’ll need it to?
Too often, people either spend too much and run out of money, or they’re terrified of that scenario, and end up living hand to mouth.
Over our working life, we get the majority of our insurances via our employee benefits. As you explore medicare, you’ll discover it’s complex and fairly intimidating. For better or worse, you’ll need to dedicate a good amount of time to ensure you get the proper coverages in place.
If you’d like some additional guidance, I encourage you to connect with one of our Certified Partners.
Now we’re moving into the more substantive areas. The famous Harvard Grant study proved the value and importance of social connection. It’s our friendships and community ties that lead to rich and happy lives.
Many of us find community at work and become friends with our coworkers. How will you replace this once you’re retired?
Sadly, we’re experiencing a loneliness epidemic. As we get older, it becomes harder and harder to develop relationships. Because they’re so important to our wellbeing, and they can be a challenge, I encourage you to be as thoughtful and proactive as you can. Plan for who and what your community is going to be.
As odd as it may seem, humans appreciate the pecking order. We like knowing where we stand and having the respect that comes with our position. When you walk away from your work, how will you replace this?
As a conscientious person, you may say to yourself, “I don’t need any of that.” And maybe you won’t. But on the outside chance you find yourself missing it, where will you find it?
Meaning in responsibility
And now for the granddaddy of them all- we find meaning in responsibility. Work gives us purpose. Teddy Roosevelt said it best, “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
You may be saying, “What is George talking about? I can’t wait to be done with work.” If that’s the case, and you’ll be happy doing whatever, then don’t worry about it. But what if you’re wrong?
Let me ask you one last question, “How do you want your kids and your grandkids to think of you when you’re old?”
Do you want them to think of spending time with you as an obligation, or do you want them to be excited about seeing you? I want to be vibrant, sharp and engaged when I’m old. I want my kids and grandkids to ask me for advice and help. I want to be able to deliver what they need.
In order to do that, I know I’ll need to be focused and working on something. I know I’ll need responsibility in my life. And I’ll want it as well.
When you think of a sharp older person, who comes to mind? At the time of writing this, Warren Buffett is 91 and Charlie Munger is 98. While I don’t know how active they are in the daily business of Berkshire Hathaway, both of them consistently speak in front of live audiences and answer questions. They’re able to do that because they’ve kept themselves focused.
Food for thought.
I hope some of this has resonated with you. Hopefully, you enjoy a wonderful retirement and get everything you want.
If you’d like to dig deeper in this, check out our Retire Happily course.
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