Thriving Retirement Plan
What if retirement was not an end, but instead, a beginning? Not your grandparents’ retirement, but a whole new stage of life filled with possibilities. We are living longer, in better health, and generally have more abundance than prior generations of retirees. In his book, The Big Shift, Marc Freedman discusses how we may be beyond middle age, yet have not arrived at old age. A whole new stage of life is developing which he likens to a second adolescence.
When we think of retirement this way, it contains so much promise. And yet, how do we get there? How do we get off the track of working, getting the kids through college and managing our parents’ health care and begin to focus on ourselves? And how do we give ourselves permission to do this? This is where the concept of the Thriving Retirement Plan was germinated. I had clients coming to me saying they are worried because they don’t know what retirement will look like. They didn’t mean from a money viewpoint as we had well covered their ability to retire financially. What would they do when they woke up in the morning? Who would be in their world? The Thriving Retirement Plan is an invitation to dream, to think about what is possible. It will take the stress out of retiring as you will walk into a successful retirement knowing exactly how to get started. Like all good plans it will evolve over time, but it provides the perfect starting point. The following are the components of the Thriving Retirement Plan.
According to author Mitch Anthony, retirement works best when you can incorporate a little of your work life into retirement and likewise incorporate a little of your retirement life into your working years. We need meaningful work to both motivate and stimulate us. If we keep our brain going, we keep our body going physically. Now this does not mean working at the pace you did in your 20s, 30s or even 40s. It may not be even working at all, but perhaps volunteering instead.
Some of us will continue to work at what we love, but may do it less. Others may embark on an encore career they have always wanted to pursue or a talent they want to develop. Some may want to use their skills and resources to help a cause that is close to their heart or a special project like restoring an old car or creating an organic garden. This is probably the single most important aspect of a thriving retirement because it brings purpose to each day.
When we are in our working life, we have an automatic social network with our colleagues, co-workers and clients. When we step away from the working world, we have to make an effort to recreate our social networks. Social interaction is another key to life satisfaction and improved health. These networks should go beyond our spouses, partners and children although those relationships are important as well.
Our relationships could potentially come from our meaningful work, but not necessarily. Having a regular group or forum where you interact will improve life satisfaction. It may feel somewhat like dating, however, to find the best match. It could be a group you volunteer with, a fishing or book club, or a religious organization.
Good health is an essential part of the Thriving Retirement Plan. If we don’t feel good, it will be hard to do meaningful work or interact positively with others. It is also better to be proactive with our health to avoid any new issues from developing. This means making sure you have a good doctor (perhaps making sure he/she accepts Medicare) and that you make time for routine physicals. It may also mean engaging a nutritionist to make sure you are obtaining the nutrients you need in your diet or taking supplements. Exercise is a key not only to good physical health, but also to good mental health. It is therefore important to develop a regime of exercise that you enjoy.
Even walking every day can meet this need. In their books Younger Next Year and Younger Next Year For Women, Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D declare that 70% of aging is voluntary. If you adapt a healthier outlook and lifestyle you are apt to age better. In addition to exercise, getting good sleep is also essential to feeling well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared that insufficient sleep is a public health problem. The right plan will give us optimum health for our individual circumstances.
Retirement is a time to think about not just about where we live, but where we want to live. We often have more flexibility and resources at this time of life than at any other time. Some people are ready for a change or want to move closer to grandkids. Some want a second home in a warmer climate or to travel. Others love their home, but worry if it is too much to keep up or if it will be easy to maneuver around when aging.
Aside from the home and location, it is important to consider what kind of community will provide you with the support you need or desire. Likewise, does the community you plan to live in engage your social, recreational and artistic interests? Making thoughtful choices in these areas can greatly increase your quality of life and happiness.
Planning Time For Close Relationships
This component may seem obvious, but I find it merits consideration. Who do you most want to spend time with whom you don’t see often enough? A child, a sibling, a dear friend? How can we be more purposeful in planning our time with these people? Do you and your spouse need some time to develop a new phase of your relationship? Is there a pet you have wanted, but not had the time to care for previously? Making sure we are planning for and nurturing these relationships can provide an immense amount of satisfaction in retirement.
You have been working and saving for retirement, but how much is enough? The answer is dependent on many factors such as how much you want to spend in retirement, what you want to leave for others, the risks you are willing to take, and more. So, in other words, there is no one answer that works for everyone. You are unique and your financial plan should be too. A financial plan is a tool to give you options; it is not meant to constrain you. If you start with what you want retirement to look like, then your financial planner can help guide you there. If you want to retire early, how will you focus your spending? Maybe you have already saved enough, but want to do something different? Perhaps you want to begin gifting to your children. It’s all about choice. It can also help you understand how the retirement assets you are building can turn into income in retirement. A good financial plan should inform you and take the financial stress out of retirement.
In our work together we will use questions and tools to figure out what your individual Thriving Retirement Plan looks like. We want to take those dreams and desires that you have not had time for and put them in the forefront. How will YOU thrive in retirement?