Who Will You Be In Retirement?

If you are like most of us Baby Boomers, you have been at this working thing for 30 or more years by now. During those joyful years, you did not have to worry much about what to do during your day. You walked into the office and the flurry began with projects, deadlines, meetings, and various hurried events requiring your undivided attention and finely-honed expertise. Boredom was not even a consideration as you more likely found yourself at the end of the day with still more on your plate leaving you with the decision of taking it home or picking it up the next day.

Then one day, if you are lucky, you get to retire. Suddenly you find yourself in unfamiliar surroundings. Instead of battling the clock, you find yourself with free time to do what you want. Finally, you can begin to pursue those interests, those true passions that you were not able to until now due to the requirements of your job. The world is waiting for you to stake your claim and enjoy that second act you have so valiantly struggled to attain.

And for the first year or so, you will probably have no problem going at it. That to-do list you have been compiling over the years is about to get to-done. Those trips you and your partner have been dreaming of taking can now be booked. You even have the opportunity to just sit back and enjoy life without work, calmly savoring that morning coffee while enjoying the moments at a sane pace with no stress in sight. This initial honeymoon period of retirement is a wonderful thing.

Unfortunately, sometimes a good thing does not last forever. Before too long, you may find yourself asking, “Is this all there is?” What exactly is it that you will do for the next 20 plus years to stay engaged and excited about life? Do you have enough hobbies and interests? Without the duties of a job filling the calendar, what is really on the horizon?

And how about this – now that you are no longer ensconced in your career, who exactly are you? When you meet someone at a cocktail party and they ask “What do you do?” the answer is typically based upon what you do for a living. Well, you are no longer a working stiff so how do you describe the new and improved you? If you are unprepared for this moment, don’t be surprised to find yourself tongue-tied and a bit unsure of how exactly to respond.

Retirement offers us a chance to redefine who we are, who we want to be for the coming years. No longer tied to the job we do, we are free to release that inner person to explore and experience the world as we want to, not as we have to. If we are fortunate enough to have saved sufficiently to allow us to live our retired life as we choose, this second act has the potential to be an exciting encore to the life lived to this point. How many of us are closet authors or would-be-musicians that have been trapped inside a life that affords no time for expression? How many have felt prisoners of the daily grind, finding no satisfaction in the job beyond the monthly paycheck? Are there many among us who can say they remotely enjoyed the life lived as a member of the working masses?

So, now that we have the time to be who we want, how will that look?

We each are limited only by our creativity and willingness to try something new. Now is the time to cut loose that imagination we may have been forced to contain. And what is really cool about this time in our life is we do not have to answer to anyone’s definition of what is “right and proper” other than our own. Who cares what others think if we are doing what we really want to do, if we are pursuing those passions that light our fire. Retirement affords us the opportunity to do those things we choose and to be the person we have always wanted.

Are you ready?

From my blog for RetireUSA.net. 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.

Don’t Save It All For Retirement

Many baby boomers have created an A-list of all the things they will do with their new found freedom in retirement. Far beyond the to-do list that has been building for ages, their sites are typically set on loftier goals.

Travel is a common piece of the retirement puzzle, with adventures ranging from short weekend trips to world cruises and extended stays in foreign countries. Some people have made a commitment to self-improvement by living a healthier more balanced life as a retiree. Other individuals can’t wait to go back to school to learn something they are actually interested in rather than required to know. You could also write the book you have always wanted to, learn to play a musical instrument or build a dream backyard to enjoy your free time in. All you need to do is make it to retirement, and then you will get to do these fun and exciting activities.

But is it such a good idea to postpone your dreams until you retire? If you plan to retire at 65, you can hope for another 20 or more years living your second act. But as you get older, some of those dreams can become more challenging to accomplish. What excited you when you were a sprightly 45 can become a bit daunting at 70. There are certainly examples of amazing older folks who perform incredible feats of strength and endurance even though they are past retirement age. Unfortunately, these tend to be the exceptions rather than the rule, and most of us will live much more earthbound retirement lives. By the time you reach age 65 you may be worn out from the working world and its demands upon you. In addition to increasing physical limitations, it is not uncommon to become less willing to put up with the hassles that life throws your way.

It can be helpful to your sanity and quality of life to find ways to enjoy yourself and your dreams along the way. Don’t save everything for retirement. Not only will you enrich the life you are living each day, but you will also take advantage of youthful energy while you are still young.

Travel now while you are still able to trek to places that may be a bit more demanding. Difficult hikes across challenging terrain can offer peeks into some of the most magnificent spots on earth. But you need to be physically able to participate and enjoy them. As you grow older you can become less patient with waiting in line, going through customs, wading through security check points, and wedging yourself into tight airplane seats for extended periods of time. There may come a point when the stress and effort to travel abroad will lead you to ground future trips. If you saved everything for retirement, your photo albums will be very sparse.

We all hope to be healthy and happy in retirement, but there are no guarantees. As one of my blog readers commented, “My best advice after living 12 years in a retirement community is to get and stay as fit as possible and to do and go before good health and stamina abandon you.” Should the time come when your health is an issue or you just do not have the energy any more, those dreams you made for living a fulfilling retirement will need to change to reflect the realities of life.

Don’t put all of your passions on hold. It can be a mistake to wait until you retire before you finally pursue what inspires and excites you. If you follow those passions in your daily life you can add to the quality of the life you live. Obviously there are some things that you will have to wait to do because of time constraints and other barriers. But don’t save everything for retirement if you can enjoy a bit along the way.

Retirement will still remain a promised land of opportunity to do what you want with your freedom. But things will be different and there may come a time when the effort required to experience a new adventure may be more than you are capable of despite your wishes to the contrary. If you have enjoyed yourself along the way to retirement and experienced some of those dreams prior to retiring, you will have made the best use of your time and energy and have little to regret.

From my blog on US News & World. 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.

Do What You Love in Retirement

Taken from my blog for RetireUSA.net

One of the great hopes when entering into retirement is that we will finally find ourselves with sufficient free time to pursue those interests that most excite and stimulate us. For some the working world may offer a degree of satisfaction and engagement that adds meaning to our day. But for many that working world is something we would happily leave behind. Who wants to continue endlessly with stress and deadlines, dealing with pressures and politics, doing those same things day in and day out? Face it, if it were not for the paycheck at the end of the road, how many of us would really chose to work?

That said, as we joyously cross the finish line into retired life and now actually have the time to do what we want, what exactly is it we will do? How will we occupy our days? Taking it easy doing nothing may work for awhile but will it enthrall you for the next 20 years?

While planning for their future, a helpful starting point for retirees-to-be is to honestly evaluate what retirement means to each personally. How do you see yourself living the next twenty-plus-years during which you are responsible to no one other than yourself (oh, and of course your partner)? Are you a go-getter who envisions retirement as a time to attack that bucket list of adventures and do all you can with every available moment? Or are you content with sitting back a bit, taking it easy while living at a leisurely pace, happy to be removed from the hectic life that defined the working you? Perhaps find yourself somewhere in between, envisioning a balance between doing and not doing.

Once you determine how you see yourself navigating the retirement jungle, you might want to compare facts with your partner to see where you are in sync as well as where you may be a bit at odds. There is nothing wrong with having different expectations of retirement but understanding the perspective of each can be insightful.

As you begin to dig deeper into what it is you will do to fill your retired days, try asking yourself what you are most passionate about. What is it that excites you, intrigues you and gets you out of bed each morning ready to take on the day? Is there anything currently in your life or that you can incorporate into your routine that you will truly enjoy doing day after day? Since you now have the time to do what you want, a focus on what really lights your fire is a good course of action. And try not to make the mistake of waiting until after you are retired to begin to figure out the specifics. Preparation ahead of time can help you more smoothly transition into your post-work lifestyle with minimum issues and maximum opportunities.

Not everyone is so fortunate as to clearly know what they are most passionate about. But I believe that we all are passionate about something – we just need to figure out what!

If you are not quite sure, try asking yourself the following to help hone-in on your individual passion(s):

What do you value most?

What excites you?

What subjects/topics fascinate you?

What do you find most meaningful in life?

What is most important to you?

Who is your hero? Why?

What of your skills do you most enjoy using?

What do you hate doing?

If money was no object, what would your perfect job look like?

You can do whatever you want – what would you do?

What is it that when you start talking about it you find it hard to contain your enthusiasm? 

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Be active, be energetic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

In retirement, with the slate clean and choices unlimited, we have the opportunity to fill our life with meaningful rewarding activities. If at the end of the day we can look back and say that we have done something good, that we have accomplished something that matters and not wasted the day, then we can be confident we have lived a day well spent. Staying active and engaged in retirement is not something to do from the sidelines – we should take the initiative and get involved. But if we are doing what we really love to do, pursuing what we are most passionate about, each day can be a new opportunity to look forward to with gusto.