Helpful Resources to Get Your Retirement Right

Learning to successfully navigate the retirement jungle is no easy feat. Since none of us has firsthand experience there is no history to apply, no lessons learned to help steer the way. Rarely will things play out 100 percent as you plan and hope.

And yet the journey typically begins with a feeling of excitement, an optimistic view of what can be. Get ready to leave behind the stress of work, bid a find adieu to the kids as they head off to begin their own life adventures, and prepare to spend more time doing what you really want to do. Who wouldn’t be excited about such a future?

When it comes to retirement there is no one size fits all. Each of us has the freedom as well as the responsibility to figure out the best path to realize our individual happiness. But it can help to have some honest accurate advice to get us started. Perhaps a little heads up to avoid common pitfalls survived by those who have gone before us or are in similar straights.

Over the years I have uncovered a number of useful sources that can help prepare for some of retirement’s unexpected twists and turns. Various books and blogs, studies and reports, webinars and impassioned discussions have combined to help me get started down my retirement journey.

There is a group of favorite retirement bloggers who I have had the pleasure of interacting with over the years. Each offers a unique perspective as they share their individual retirement journeys. Bob Lowry authors A Satisfying Retirement where he describes experiences lived and challenges faced as he enjoys the life of a retiree in sunny Arizona. Sydney Lagier writes Retirement: A Full-Time Job sharing her insightful and always upbeat view of retirement which she began at age 44. Ted Carr takes the unique approach of interviewing various retirement pundits and posting the resulting podcasts on his site Retirement Journeys. There are many more sites but these are three of my favorites.

When it comes to books on retirement planning there are lots to choose from. Some focus on preparing for the financial side of retirement – actually a LOT focus on that area. Others address the reverse side of the retirement coin – the non-financial side of things. What can you do to find meaning and enjoyment in the retirement you live? My favorite is “How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free” by Ernie Zelinski. The cover states “Retirement wisdom that you won’t get from your financial advisor” and he is true to his word. Ernie addresses the topics every retiree will have to face at some point in their journey and he does it in a way that is entertaining as well as informative.

A few months ago I was asked to participate in a virtual seminar called Transitioning into Retirement. The three day event airs February 16-18 bringing together 12 experts who share their insights and advice on how to make retirement exciting, fulfilling and fun for the rest of your life. Note the focus is on the non-financial side of retirement (sound familiar?).  I am honored to be among the list of experts which is hosted by Marianne Oehser, Certified Retirement Coach. The event is free of charge so take a listen if you can make time.

Another resource I employ is Google. I have set up a number of simple bots that scour the internet for information pertinent to retirement. A few of my favorites are retirement challenges, retirement planning, and aging. Each day a selection of posts and articles with these key words shows up in my mailbox to review at my leisure.

Talking to friends and family who are retired is yet another source of useful firsthand information on living retirement. Whether listening to stories shared by always busy mom and dad or being enlightened by my favorite Aunt Mary who continues her globetrotting adventures in her seventies or meeting the various neighbors who have retired in our community, it is always informative and generally entertaining to hear their words of wisdom. No one’s journey has been without incident but the overall attitude I find is positive. In the end I think that is what it is all about. Each of us has the freedom and responsibility to make the most of our second act. Advice from others is helpful but it is up to you and me to put it to good use. Here’s to a successful journey for us all. :)

You’re Retired So What’s The Hurry?

According to my dad when the first of the year rolls around it is time to get outside and prune the rose bushes. If you saw the impressive array of wildly blooming plants displayed around his garden you would agree he knows what he is talking about. And so with elbow length leather gloves protecting my exposed arms and sharpened shears in hand I head to the garden to go about my yearly duties. Since I have to get down on hands and knees to do it right I have added a Styrofoam knee pad to the necessary accoutrement, something I would have never considered years back.

We have a collection of 22 rose bushes in need of pruning. The Dave of old would have put his head down and relentlessly powered through the whole bunch, taking brief pause for a glass of water or to wipe away drops of sweat from a dripping brow. The pace would have been anything but relaxing and by the time I completed the task I would be pooped. Back then I had the stamina to get through demanding chores along with an ever motivating dose of impatience. I pushed myself wanting to get it done to move on to my next activity. How could I enjoy the football game until my responsibilities were met?

These days I view things differently. First off I accept it may take me a bit longer and require more effort to complete those activities I used to effortlessly plow through. And that is okay. The hard part has been accepting the fact I am slowing down, gradual though it may be. Secondly I am realizing there is no rush. What’s the big hurry? I have time. I can set my own pace, one that fits my current energy level. Why do I have to get all 22 roses pruned in a single day?

And so this year I started out slowly, taking a breather when I felt like it and enjoying the beautiful day around me. I patiently worked through the first ten plants, carefully trimming away dead wood while shaping the bush so branches grew outward and did not cross one another in the middle. When I got to bush number ten, I called it quits. I cleaned up and headed inside feeling quite accomplished with the morning. I did not dwell upon the remaining twelve plants to be pruned (well maybe a little). The next day I got up, had breakfast, slowly savored a cup of coffee and eventually meandered outside. I gathered my tools and proceeded to prune the remaining roses. I don’t know how long it took – I’m not on the clock. Once completed, I pulled up a chair to admire my handiwork. I am beginning to understand the virtue of patience.

One of the reasons my wife and I selected Carmel Valley to retire is the easy access to hiking paths scattered throughout local mountains and along the Pacific coastline. We aim to tally at least 20 miles each week and generally have no problem achieving that goal. I do face one small challenge. When our path leads upward – as in a hill – my wife goes into what I call “passing gear”. I swear she walks uphill faster than she walks on level ground. I often find myself doing all I can just to keep up as she streaks toward the summit. But I am learning. It is not critical that I match her energetic pace upward. I can slow a bit and find a rate that I am more comfortable with. She may get to the top first but at least now I am able to enjoy the journey there as well. And the paths we walk take us through some incredibly beautiful countryside. Why not enjoy?

When we moved away from the Bay Area one thing we happily left behind was the horrendous traffic. After 30 years of commuting you would think one would become used to the perpetual state of congestion but that was not the case. So many times during my career I found myself mired in rush hour traffic. It did not even have to be rush hour. My frustration and stress levels soared as I watched time tick by knowing I was late for my next appointment. And there was nothing I could do about it. Rushing from meeting to traffic jam to the next meeting was taxing on my sanity. Now in retirement traffic does not matter. We are able to plan our trips to avoid busy times. Weekdays have become our new weekends. And if we do run into a little slowdown it is all good. There is typically nowhere we absolutely have to be at a specific time. We have learned to turn up the music and appreciate the fact that slow traffic is now the exception rather than the rule.

In my retirement I am learning there are ways to adjust the pace of life to an enjoyable level. Rather than hurry off in the next direction as I used to I try to keep things in perspective. If it doesn’t get done today, what is the worry? Instead of missing the world around me as it rockets by in a blur I am able to appreciate the moment and savor each experience. They say retirement is about the journey rather than the destination. I hope to enjoy all I can at a pace that takes me far from the hurrying world.