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!

Enjoying Retirement After the Honeymoon Period

After working 30 or more years, retirement will offer a new challenge to stay active and engaged in a world that you now must manage. While ensconced in your career, you typically did not have to think twice about how to fill your hours. You walked in the door in the morning where your deadlines, meetings and duties were waiting. It was not a matter of having enough things to fill the day, but rather having enough time in the day to get everything done.

Then you retire and assume responsibility for filling your calendar with meaningful or at least entertaining activities. At first, it can be an exciting, liberating and truly joyful time. You finally have time to attack the to-do list you have been compiling for many years. And you now have an open calendar to take the trips you dreamed of for so long. Rather than being forced to rush out the door to get to work, you now have freedom to take things easy, enjoy the downtime and go with the flow.

But this happy time, what is often called the honeymoon period of retirement, can only go on for so long. Once your to-do list is done, you have experienced a few trips and the slow days of doing nothing begin to drag on, what do you do? Here’s how to enjoy retirement after the honeymoon is over:

Be realistic. Some people make the mistake of naively waltzing into a retired life with unrealistic expectations. Rather than planning ahead for their years of free time, they dream of retirement as an escape from a stifling career. They assume that once they leave the working world everything will be glorious. Unfortunately, that is not always the reality. Once retired, days will not magically fill themselves with fulfilling moments. It takes effort to realize a retirement that is all you hope for. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that by passively going with the flow of retired life you will miraculously realize a satisfying retirement each day. It is up to you to make it happen.

Be prepared. Imagine you have one week of free time with nothing on the calendar. What is the first thing you would do? And once that is done, what would be next on your list? Now imagine a year with nothing on the calendar. Do you think you have enough interests and passions to not just get you through that time, but to actually allow you to enjoy each step of the journey? As a retiree, you should plan on multiplying that one year by 20 or more. If you take the time beforehand to imagine and consider what you will do to occupy yourself, you might be a bit more prepared to make the most of your retirement. Instead of hoping for the best, do what you can to prepare the way to help insure a happy outcome.

Be considerate. Have you talked with your spouse about how they envision living in retirement? The two of you are in this for the duration, and working together from the start can make for smoother sailing over the long term. Although you may have lived together for decades, how often during that time was it 24/7 togetherness? It is very different being together full time during a weekend or a vacation than it will be sharing every day from this point forward. Where do your retirement plans coincide, and where do they diverge? What will you do together, and what individual interests might you pursue on your own? It is important to have both time for sharing activities as well as freedom to follow individual pursuits.

Be inspired. Now that you have reached retirement, don’t be shy about patting yourself on the back for a job well done. Not everyone is lucky enough to be where you are, so make the best of it. This can be an excellent time to try new things and experiment with passions you may have felt years ago. You have time on your hands, and no one telling you what to do. Let your imagination take you where it will. Think outside of the box you have lived in for so many years, and do what you want to do. Try new things, experiment and enjoy living your second act. When you look back over your life, wouldn’t you prefer to remember the crazy, exciting and inspired times you lived to the very end? May the honeymoon never end.

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.

Four Amazing Adventures to Consider in Retirement

Post by Victoria Moretti

After many years committing yourself heart and soul to your career, reaching retirement age can feel a bit strange. Suddenly you find yourself with free time on your hands, just what you have been working and saving for all these years. But before too long you may come to realize that you do not have a lot of meaningful, exciting activities to occupy yourself. You may even find you feel a bit bored at times. No one wants to be bored in retirement so what are you willing to do about it?

Retirement can be the perfect setting in which to explore all of those passions and adventures that you have always dreamed of.  Your kids have grown up and moved out of the family home, so it is your chance to do something different, thrilling and new. Now is your opportunity to rediscover everything that is amazing about the world and life in general.

If you are close to reaching the over-65-club, you are actually in for a treat. Here are just five amazing things you could do when you say adios to work for good.

Ski Europe

Although many of us love the freedom and exhilaration that comes with skiing, while tied to our job we often did not have the time. Well no longer! In retirement you have time to do what you want when you want to. If skiing is your baby, where better to utilize your downhill skills than the Alps. This internationally acclaimed getaway offers crisp, clean fresh air, magnificent views, friendly fellow skiers and powder that is simply divine. You don’t have to be an expert as slopes of varying difficulty are available. And no matter what your skill level, all become equals at the lodge waiting at the bottom of the hill. Snuggle up next to a blazing fire with a cocktail of your choice in hand and just enjoy the moment.  You are never too old to enjoy skiing, but if your muscles ache after a long day, you are sure to find a stunning spa in a nearby resort. Live a little; you deserve it!

Drive New Zealand

If driving is what you like to do, few places on the globe offer more impressive scenery than New Zealand. All of those incredible scenes scattered throughout the Lord of the Rings movies actually do exist as you can see for yourself with a little planning. New Zealand is said to have a similar climate to the UK but few other locations offer the ability to experience all four seasons in one day! What makes the two main islands so perfect for exploring is your access to everything from subtropical rainforests to snow-capped peaks. A perfect way to travel across New Zealand at your own pace pursuing a map and schedule of your own making is by motor home.  Some choose to rent but if you plan an extended trip and really want to surround yourself with all of the comforts of home along the way, you may choose to invest in your own transport such as is offered by Travelworld Motorhomes.

Cruise  Alaska

Imagine yourself comfortably seated on the deck of a luxury liner kept toasty warm by the nearby heater as you look upon some of the last remaining wilderness in North America.  Don’t be surprised by the sleek torpedo-like dolphins that race along with the ship or by the sudden booming of ice shearing off nearby glaciers. You are in the middle of nature in all her beauty. And although this is wild Alaska, don’t worry about roughing it as gourmet food and drink await you 24/7 along the way. Whatever you do, try to at least once visit the midnight feeding if at all possible where you will see more food than you can imagine presented in artistically inspired ways. Cruises cater to all ages with activities available for kids to seniors. Between the beauty, the food, and the seemingly endless on-ship entertainment, you will have no time to be bored as you cruise Alaska.

Cross the Canadian Rockies

If you prefer Terra firma over ocean adventures, you can still experience the beauty of Mother Nature in a train trip across the Canadian Rockies. Whether you choose to head East-to-West or vice versa, you will witness incredible scenery on your train vacation where you can view stunning vistas ranging from verdant river valleys to the peaks of nearby majestic mountains. The Canadian Rockies is home to five national parks with mountains that span more than 69,000 mountains across two provinces. Along the way you can plan to make stops in postcard-like setting such as Lake Louise and Jasper National Park, the largest national park in Canada. And of course you will not go hungry along the way as you are wined and dined in first class style while seated in the domed viewing cars where the great outdoors surrounds you.