A Proactive Key to Prepare for Retirement

Key to RetirementIn my coaching practice and with the assessments I give, there is an influencing factor that helps clients succeed in their retirement planning and that is the idea of replacement. Think about it, work is much more than a paycheck for most of us. In addition to financial stability, work offers many other rewards like a natural cadence or rhythm to our day, a sense of utility, socialization and, of course, identity.

Once we begin to think about our life beyond work, there is the realization that to meaningfully fill all those hours, it takes some thoughtful analysis related to how we imagine ourselves and what is realistic to achieve our renewed version of “The Good Life”. It doesn’t happen on its own and it certainly isn’t one-size fits all. To get it right for you, it takes some personal reflection, conversations with your significant other or those in your life you trust to be sounding boards, as well as some practice to see if expectations are in line with reality.

I will give you an example. The other day I was going over the Retirement Success Profile with a client in his late 60’s. Once he took this assessment and saw his results he got to work figuring out how many free hours each day he would now have to pursue his interests, hobbies and volunteer work. He calculated 56 hours to parlay into each week and looked at how much time he would ideally like to spend on each activity. We laughed when I asked him where his wife fit into all of this, since he mentioned family as one category and gave it only 8 hours! The point is, he thought about replacements and calculated his numbers and this is his start. With two more years before he fully retires, this first draft schedule will no doubt be modified, but he is on his way to figuring out how to find purpose and meaning during retirement.

It’s a good exercise to ask yourself: “If I didn’t go to work every day, what would I do?” Contrary to popular lore, retirement isn’t one long vacation. It’s simply a new chapter to adjust to and the transition can be a challenge. Of course in the earliest stages of retirement, most of us just want to decompress and not have a tight schedule. In the short term, this can feel blissful. However, in the long run, we generally crave routine and purpose to our days. Idle errands and an endless to-do list is one way to create structure, but it often doesn’t feel particularly meaningful.

Retirement can be a productive and creative chapter, filled with a new cadence that involves rich relationships, a unique pace to each day, pursuits on your terms and schedule, independence from the day-to-day race of life and deep meaning as you redefine yourself, based on how you use your time, which indeed is the great equalizer and can’t be bought or sold, only lived.

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