How Prepared Are You to Retire?

Although not yet 65 I feel in my bones I am ready to retire – now. Why should I put off living that promising second act any longer than I have to? How wonderful would it be to awake each morning excited with the promise of a new day? Instead of dreading my return to the stressful stultifying corporate environment I have survived (at least to this point), I envision my retired day filled with doing what I actually want to do. And I am ready to get to it.

For the past almost four years, I have been doing my best to figure out what retirement is all about and how I can best prepare. I have focused on the non-financial side since there is no lack of helpful if sometimes conflicting advice on how to invest, save and build that all-important retirement nest egg. What financial preparedness ultimately comes down to is saving enough so when you are no longer generating an income you have more left at the end of each month than you spend. Not always an easy thing but pretty straight forward.

What intrigues me and has been the focus of my blogs and book writing efforts is the ongoing search to identify what I can do now to prepare myself for the retirement lifestyle I want. And what exactly will that lifestyle look like? Upon careful consideration and baring any unexpected roadblocks, I am optimistic that I have most of my ducks in a row when it comes to making the move to retirement.

I believe my relationship with my wife is ready for retirement. We talk about our future plans on a regular basis. Both of us realize it would be a mistake to retire prematurely. We recognize our need to stay busy and active so are always looking for interesting activities to replace the hours in the day normally occupied by a job. In addition to things we do together – travel, hiking, exploring new restaurants, backgammon, working out, gardening, watching obscure movies – we have our own individual interests. And we support each other in pursuit of these interests. While she works on a 3000 piece jigsaw of colorful villas along the Mediterranean, I explore my writing. Time spent alone is good for the relationship just so long as we also spend time together!

We realize that neither is responsible for entertaining the other. My wife’s happy routine could be rudely interrupted by a husband who tags along behind her not exactly sure what he should or could be doing. The best of intentions could be misconstrued should a recommendation be made to improve something that has been working just fine all along. As long as we are happy and engaged – either together or on our own – we do not fear becoming bored or discontent.

I believe I have enough to engage and entertain me for the next 20 plus years. I departed the working world back in early 2012 for what I initially expected to be a short term reprieve and recharge. Two years later I occupy the same position or more accurately lack thereof. Although I have been keeping my feelers out for possible jobs I have also been taking advantage of the time to test the retirement waters a bit. If I am never rehired full time, could I keep busy and find my life fulfilling? What would I do to stay engaged and involved so that my mind and body do not slow down prematurely? These two years have allowed me to experience the promise as well as challenge of keeping active and engaged with no job to fill the hours. A pleasant routine has evolved that keeps me occupied until about 4:00 each day. Now I just need to figure out what to do with that last 60 minute segment before 5:00 happy hour rolls around.

I am not averse to returning to the working world in some capacity. But as long as we can financially sustain ourselves, I do not think full time is what I want. My ideal would be to find a gig that occupies about four hours a day – preferably in the morning as that is when I am most energetic – doing something that matters, makes me think, and kicks in a few dollars to the retirement coffers.

I believe I have identified my retirement personality. I no longer feel the need to define myself based upon the job I do (or used to do). There are enough aspects of the life I plan to live that make me an interesting person I hope. I am just waiting for the next cocktail party when someone asks me “What do you do?” No longer a Director of Sales at a tech startup, the retired me is a blogging and authoring, world traveling, piano playing,  world-class-rose-growing, nature loving retiree and proud to be! Although it may be hard to fit my new “title” on a business card, I am satisfied that I am far more than the working person I once was.

I believe retirement will be a fulfilling experience. I am excited about what lies ahead. There are so many interests I want to pursue and new things to experiment with now that I will have the time to do so. I worry a little about how the effects of aging will play into our plans but we are doing our part to live a healthy fit lifestyle. My biggest challenge seems to be which of my many passions to pursue in what order. And after some serious thought, I believe I am well equipped and more than willing to handle that challenge!

10 Ingredients for Retirement Bliss

The day is coming when you may decide to depart the working world and join those lucky people living in retirement. You have paid your dues, and now it is time to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Retirement can be a time to do what you have always wanted to do with your life.

Once you make the move, you want to get the most out of those days by living a second act that stimulates your senses and gives you a reason to get out of bed each morning. If you call it quits at 65 your retirement could last for 20 or more years. Here are some important ingredients that can help you live the best retired life possible:

A healthy balance between activity and relaxation. Few retirees would be satisfied with a retirement made up entirely of doing nothing. Sure, after a busy career the first months or initial year of retirement may involve catching your breath a bit. But what about the many years to follow? A life filled with only relaxation can lead to boredom. The best solution can be to seek a balance between activities to keep busy and downtime to take it easy. Finding the right combination that meets your personal tastes can help to keep the days interesting and exciting.

Meaningful moments. At the end of the day, it can be rewarding to look back and see that you have accomplished something of worth. It may be as simple as helping a neighbor in need or as much as dedicating a day at the local shelter. Retirement can begin to lose its luster if you fill the hours without helping others. Meaningful moments and achievements can help give substance to your day and perhaps even inspire you to greater things.

Energy to keep at it. Things get tougher as we age, and slowing down is a natural occurrence. But we don’t want to watch life from the sidelines. Though it’s not always easy, if we can push ourselves a little bit each day to get moving and stay active we will enjoy better health in the long run.

A happy spouse. After many years together making it through the good and the bad, the ability to bring on a smile or laugh with our partner never grows old. What brought us together so long ago has matured and evolved, and hopefully we are learning to accept the inevitable changes that come with the years together.

Remembering the life lived. One of the cruelest parts of aging can be memory challenges. Thoughts of our most vivid life moments may dim with time. Some people are blessed to have sharp minds that are able to recall distant days and events in great detail. But remembering special events and the people most central to our lives is not guaranteed as we age.

Maintaining independence. In an ideal retired life, we will be able to remain in our own home in relative safety and have sufficient money to pay our bills and maintain a reasonable quality of life. But sometimes it becomes necessary to increasingly rely on others as we age.

Being a good grandparent. In the role of grandparent, we have the rare opportunity to be the good guy virtually all of the time. When trouble rears its ugly head, we can call in the reinforcements otherwise known as parents. Our job is to spoil, love and instill happiness in these joyful little people. We all want to be the favorite grandparent who the youngsters look forward to visiting. The good news is all it really takes is some love and attention with a dash of patience and a good sense of humor.

Living according to a personal retirement plan. Whether you want to explore things you have never done before or take it easy, having some idea of how your retired life will look before you quit your job is a great way to focus on the things that can maximize your retirement happiness. Think about what activities, hobbies and events will make up your days, who you will choose to spend your time with and develop a plan to maintain good physical and mental health.

Sharing love. Whether it’s a spouse, good friend, family member or even a fluffy pet, we all need a recipient of our love. We know how happy we become when someone makes the effort to show they love us. And for many people it can be even better to give than to receive.

Not being a burden. In the role of parents, many people have been the person who children could rely upon. We took care of their needs for school, security, health and support. Now in retirement we hope to avoid reversing those roles and becoming a burden on their busy lives.

From my blog on US News & World. Dave Bernard is the author of “I Want To Retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be“. Although not yet retired, he focuses on identifying and understanding the essential components of a fulfilling and meaningful retirement. He shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only The Beginning.

5 Tips for Transitioning to Full-Time Retirement

When the time comes to retire, will you be ready to make the move? It has taken many of us 65 years to arrive at this crossroad. After years of planning and saving, some individuals will be anxious to transition into retirement with a bang, while others may fade into retirement as they are forced out of jobs. What we all have in common is that we have never done this retirement thing before. What if we are not very good at it?

Transitioning into a retired life that suits your personal tastes and requirements does not just happen. Here’s how to prepare yourself for full-time retirement:

Learn to entertain yourself. It’s fun to imagine what we will do in retirement, but those daydreams may not reflect the reality of living each day as a retiree. Retirees are not subject to the requirements of a job and have less responsibilities foisted upon them by others. But that sudden freedom can also be frustrating. How will we fill our days with worthwhile activities to occupy and engage us for the coming months and years? You alone will need to fill your days with the activities you most enjoy, while at the same time balancing your desire for peace and quiet.

Learn to relax. We have learned to work hard on the job, waste no time, and get projects done on schedule. Some people may find it challenging to flip a switch from being a hard-charging go-getter to a free-time-on-our-hands retiree. They may experience feelings of guilt if their day is not filled with productive activities. But it is important to realize that those busy demanding times are behind us. We now have the luxury of doing what we want, including doing nothing at all. Retirement is our time to finally escape and establish a pace of living that is most right for us. It is not always easy to transition from a major player on the job to a happily retired person.

Learn to take care of yourself. Once you are no longer required to fit into your carefully tailored business suits, you may find yourself somewhat lacking in motivation to stay in tip-top shape. But good health in mind and body are important components of a fulfilling and happy retirement. A healthy retiree can be better equipped to handle the challenges that come with aging, while at the same time making the most of retired life. It makes sense as a retiree to use some of your free time to develop a better fitness routine.

Learn to balance your time. One of the big attractions of retirement is the free time we will have to do what we really want to do. But it can be amazing how quickly that free time fills itself with activities and projects. You don’t want to find yourself in the same hurried world you hoped to leave behind when you quit your job. Remember to set aside quality time for the most important people in your life, including family, friends, and yourself. In addition to all of the hobbies and passions you will pursue, it can help to earmark some time to spend with those closest to you.

Learn to take things in stride. You will not always be able to do the same things you could in your youth. An aging body will bring new challenges, and difficulties cannot always be avoided. If you can accept this without overdue stress and look forward to the good things that life still has to offer, you will be better equipped for retired life. It may take a little longer and you may be a little slower, but that is normal. Do your best to take aging in stride and with good humor.

From my US News & World blog. Dave Bernard is the author of Are You Just Existing and Calling it a Life?, which offers guidelines to discover your personal passion and live a life of purpose. Not yet retired, Dave has begun his due diligence to plan for a fulfilling retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement–Only the Beginning.