Follow These 5 R’s for a Rewarding Retirement

When you retire, you want to do it right. After so much careful preparation and struggle, you have earned the right to join the ranks of the retired, and you want to make sure it’s worth the effort. Here’s how to make sure your retirement will be fulfilling:

Reward yourself. You have earned the right to spend your free time as you choose. Don’t put pressure on yourself to fill your days with meaningful accomplishments. You are no longer a worker bee, so you can choose to do what is right for you. There is no performance review, no measures of success and no pressure to rise in the ranks. Retirement is your time to pursue what matters to you. What better reward than the option to spend your moments however you choose. You have the option to do nothing at all or try something new.

Rejuvenate your life. It is likely that after 30 or more years working you may feel a bit tired. Your job may have required a steep price for success. Retirement can be your opportunity to relax and start over at a slower pace. It doesn’t matter what you did in the past. From this day forward you can look to the future. Who you were on the job does not have to be who you are in retirement. Behaviors that were essential to your business success may be out of place in retirement. So, get rid of them. Retirement can be the perfect time to make a fresh start.

Refocus your energies. With your job behind you, get ready to add at least 40 hours of free time to your week. Now that you have the ability to choose you can focus attention on the other areas in your life that may have been ignored. Your family is likely due some make up time. Relationships with friends that have fallen to the wayside can be rekindled if you desire. If you have not been attentive to your health, this is a good time to revisit your exercise routine, establish a healthy diet and start practicing good habits across the board. All the energy that went into keeping up with the industry and corporate politics can now be refocused on real passions and interests that you want to pursue.

Respect your limitations. What you were able to do 30 years ago will not necessarily be what you can do today. But aging does not necessarily preclude living a good life. By learning to accept your limitations you can be better prepared to make the most of each day. Try not to regret what you can no longer do, but instead rejoice at what you are still capable of. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Remember how many times others have turned to you for assistance over the years.

Renew your interests. Think about what you want to do with your time. The hobbies and interests that excited you in the past can be revisited and explored in depth. You could write a novel, learn a new instrument, become fluent in the language of your choice, try your hand at ballroom dancing or do whatever else interests you most. Retirement is your reward for all your efforts that went into getting you safely and hopefully sanely to retirement.

From my blog for 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.

Enjoying the Freedom of Retirement

A typical life story for most of us might go something like this: Our first 25 years are spent growing up, experiencing an introduction to the realities of what it means to become an adult and getting educated as we prepare as best we can to enter the “real world.” The next 30-40 years are spent working for a living, paying the bills and raising a family.  And hopefully the final years – our second act – will be spent retired from the stresses and challenges that we have somehow managed to survive to this point.

Not an easy road by any means yet something we all must travel. Looking back on the years gone by I am sometimes amazed at the resilience and persistence exhibited by we mere mortals. In efforts to make ends meet and prepare for our future we are often forced to endure thankless and sometimes abusive work environments for years on end. Stress becomes our new best friend as we attempt to pay never ending day-to-day bills while somehow also providing for big ticket expenses like education, braces, cars, and the occasional wedding. We are forced to delay the pursuit of our own interests and passions because there is just not enough time in the day. It just plain ain’t easy!

But should we be so fortunate as to safely and sanely arrive at the doorstep of retirement, perhaps this is our time to live a little. Maybe with a large chunk of our responsibilities taken care of there will be a little time left in the day to enjoy the freedom we so rightly deserve.

If I close my eyes and think about what the retired me will be able to do (or not do as the case may be), the future looks bright. I am optimistic and excited and more than ready to jump into that second act and live it for all it is worth.

Here is a short list of some ways I plan to enjoy the freedom of my retirement:

(1) Knock out my to-do list – I have been adding to this list for many years in the hopes I may someday have the free time to attack it. Based on where the list is today, I figure to be busy for about a year assuming I do not add to it along the way. I can’t wait!

(2) Set my own pace - since there is nothing that I must do or any hard and fast timelines, I plan to proceed at a pace that suites me. I figure some days I may be less energetic than others. If that is the case, I can and will take it slower. I am the decider.

(3) Try new things – I am anxious to dig into my various hobbies and interests but now that I have time I hope to experiment with new things as well. I want to take a journey outside of my comfort zone while I am still young enough to do so. A little excitement and a little variety are in the cards for me.

(4) Spend more time with friends and family – the most important people in my life have sometimes been pushed to the bottom of my priority list due the nature of life. I plan to renew and rebuild those relationships I value most.

(5) Writing – I love to express myself in blogs and books. I can see each day starting with some time in front of the computer where I put thoughts to paper (or actually MS Word). And of course if I lack inspiration on a particular day no problem – I will try again tomorrow. No pressure…

(6) Try my hand at cooking – I love good food and am always looking for the next killer recipe. Now I have time to experiment and discover even more.

(7) Do nothing and feel guilt free – I know that the habits built over a 30 year career will take some time to break. One I plan on addressing short order is riding myself of that nagging feeling of guilt should I not put every minute to productive use. If I decide to sit in the yard with coffee in hand for the better part of the morning, so be it. Reading, napping, and daydreaming will have all the time they need in my retired life.

Obviously this is just a subset of what can be a truly impressive list. And your list may vary. Whatever your interests or passions retirement can provide the freedom to pursue each as you see fit. It has been a long road and you have earned the right to do what you want. Enjoy.

From my blog on RetireUSA.

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!