I’m Ready to Retire, I Think?!

Ted BraunNovember 10, 2017

Retirement Planning

Retirement is so much more than how much money you have, how much you want to spend or how long you plan to live (still no exact science to predict that last one). While I am not going to argue that money plays an important role in what your retirement may look like, I will argue that it should not be what defines it!

You’ve worked your entire life to get to this point, you’ve put in the long hours, the sleepless nights. You raised a family, moved, changed jobs, moved again, sent kids off to college, watched your kids get married and start their own families. Now it’s time to be a little selfish, to think about you and your spouse, to think about all the things that have been bumped out of the “would love to do” list, out of necessity.

Too often, we see pre-retirees singularly focused on the “big day”, that what they are going to do post retirement party gets overlooked. Chances are good that your retirement is going to last a long time, so take the time now to think about what retirement looks like to you. Think past what your monthly spend might be, think deeper, and put the same level of time and energy into the retirement experience as you have with the retirement “balance”.

While this may sound well intentioned, it may be difficult to envision without some specific examples of what exactly I am talking about. Retirement is, and should be unique and special for every individual (even amongst spouses). I would strongly encourage you to use these examples as a starting point. Spend time away from everything, tune-out the distractions, and spend real time thinking about this. You would be amazed at the amount of untapped creativity, passion and excitement that can be drawn upon with a little “me” time.

Taking this time to think about what your retirement is going to look like will allow you to think deeper. Allow you to think about things like social interaction and legacy planning.

Social interaction is incredibly broad and covers a wide-range of areas, but as you read on you will notice that all the items below have a similar trait which is quality social interaction. There is actual science behind the fact that engaging quality social interaction keeps minds and bodies young. This often why you will see active retirement communities filled with retirees living well into their 90’s and thriving.

To successfully transition to retirement, think about how you are going to get your fill of quality social interaction, who it’s going to be with, when and where it’s going to happen.

  • Maybe it’s a part-time consulting role (because you were one of the fortunate few that had the opportunity to do what they LOVED during their working careers).
  • Maybe it’s volunteering your time at your favorite charity, the one you always had money to donate to, but no time to donate.
  • Maybe it’s just re-connecting with a group of friends. The friends that have seen the time they get to spend together decline precipitously over the last few decades.
  • Maybe it’s what you “really” wanted to do professionally, but never did because you knew it wouldn’t pay the bills. Or your responsibilities compounded so quickly that it was “too late” to start a new career at 35, 45 or 55.

My challenge to you is to think deeper than “I’m going to play golf” or “I’m going to travel”. Then put the time in to organize and plan (just as you would with a financial plan) on how you are going to achieve these goals. What things do you need to start working on now, what can wait until you retire?

Quality social interaction will help to promote a long healthy and fulfilling retirement, but one thing is for certain, nobody lives forever. You worked hard to build this amazing family, tremendous career and beautiful retirement, how do you want it to live on past you? Do you want it to live on past you?

Legacy planning is what is going to help you answer these questions. To some, legacy planning is synonymous with estate planning or “who’s going to get my leftovers”. I am here to debate that position and open the door to thinking about legacy planning in a whole new light.

Yes, an estate plan is important, and understanding who is going to get what, so that the IRS or state doesn’t take more than they deserve is very important. Equally important to a lot of individuals and families is tradition, stories, recipes, photos, trinkets, things that may rank low in cash value, but in most cases are worth far more than any pot of money.

Everyone has been at the family parties and heard the same stories being told, ate the same exact escarole soup for the last 50 years at Thanksgiving or sat by the piano and sang Christmas carols with grandma. Yes, it’s true that your kids or siblings may know that you enjoy these things, but do they know how much they truly mean to you?

Legacy planning should not be done “on your way out” or “at the end of the road”. Talk about it with your family, with those who matter to you. Don’t wait until it is too late. If these things are important to you… write them down… make a video… SHARE it! There is no right or wrong way, and certainly no standardized list of what your legacy planning should include, but if it’s important to you, it should be a part of your retirement.

What’s the takeaway? Put the same time and energy into planning the non-financial aspects of your retirement as you have with the financial side of things. You only get one shot, so why not make it exactly the way you want it. Don’t rush through retirement the same way we rush through our working years. Don’t just “stop and smell the roses” instead, plant, grow and then smell the roses!!