5 Skills You Will Need in Retirement

Just because you make it to your second act does not mean you will necessarily enjoy smooth sailing ahead. Sure you have worked your butt off for years and years but the work is not over. Get ready to face plenty of challenges over the coming decades including numerous bumps in the road and a fair share of sudden detours not foreseen when you meticulously planned your future.

As with many facets of life, a happy retirement is best insured when certain skills exist and can be called upon as needed. You cannot prepare for every contingency but it never hurts to be armed and ready.

Here are 5 important skills/talents to add to your retirement arsenal.


Not as found at the circus but rather the handy ability to manage multiple distractions at once. Although living the life of a retiree removes the need to balance the vicissitudes of the job there will be plenty new scenarios that leave your running around like a chicken with its head cut off. The fact is more often than not retirees find themselves busier in retirement than before. With only 24 hours in the day how do you fit in all those wonderful activities and interests you have postponed until now? I admit one of my biggest fears prior to retiring was running out of things to keep me busy and engaged. While I do occasionally have a slow day more often I can be found late in the afternoon wondering where the time went. Getting everything in – workouts, hikes, gardening, reading, playing ball with the dog (at least 5 times a day or he is perturbed), piano time, miscellaneous odd jobs, an afternoon nap, etc. – truly can feel like a three ring circus.

Discoverer of Creative Outlets

Without a job to monopolize your hours you become responsible for filling your daily dance card with activities and meaningful moments. Those most successful are able to step outside of previously restrictive comfort zones. The fact you have not tried something new in the past ten years need not taint your future. Now that you can why not give it a try? Experiment with a bit of this, try your hand at a little that. Don’t let preconceived notions and self-imposed limitations hold you back. Living the retirement you dream is all about doing what you want with your enviable free time.

fishermen at sunrise

Once retired, even if with your spouse, you will find you have time alone. This can be difficult if you thirst for social interaction but rather nice if you are fine with a little solitude. Knowing a bit about you – likes, dislikes, passions, never-in-this-life to be avoided situations, dreams, ambitions – can make the transition easier. Take time to feel your way around. You might discover you like those quiet moments alone with your own thoughts free from distraction or time constraints.

Bean Counter

Living on a budget is generally a reality of retirement. If you cannot increase the money coming in you need to manage what goes out. Successfully managing this ongoing balancing act helps keep you financially liquid through the coming decades. Beware big dollar investments in unnecessary items. Shop around for the best price. I rarely make a purchase online without comparing prices on Amazon.com. With competitive prices and free shipping Mr. Bezos is hard to beat. When paying for a service such as cable it helps to put in a call every six months or so to see if you can get a better deal. And don’t forget neighbors and friends who are happy to share their experiences and advice regarding cost saving strategies.

Best Deal Scrounger

One of the best parts of retirement is no longer waiting for weekends to have fun. Since you can now pursue your passions during the week a whole new world of deals is available. Hotel room rates are typically best Sunday through Thursdays – keep your eyes open for buy one get one night free or similar specials. Plane fares can be whittled down when you have the freedom to depart and arrive on the most economical dates offered. Early dinner fares are much more reasonable and since you control the calendar why not take advantage. It really pays off to shop around. Here is a helpful site I discovered specializing in various savings vehicles including a recent Retail Savings Guide for Baby Boomers.

Explorer of Passions

Not everyone retiring has a passion(s) to pursue. Or maybe it is more like they have not yet discovered what truly lights their fire. It could be they have just not had sufficient free time to think about what they really want to be doing. It’s difficult to find one’s passion when every waking moment is focused on climbing the corporate ladder or just keeping your head above water. But wouldn’t it be nice to have a passion to pursue when you retire? Now that you can wouldn’t you like to spend your time doing what really matters to you, what really lights your fire?

The secret is to find that inspiration. I don’t think there is any simple recipe to uncover what you are most passionate about. Each of us has to pursue our own path. For me it was a matter of trial and error. I tried out a few interesting avenues, quickly abandoning a bunch, giving up on others a little later. But in the end I identified a handful of activities/pursuits that bring meaning and happiness to my retirement. Armed with those I look forward to each day. And who says I am limited to what excites me today? I am free to try my hand at whatever may intrigue me as I continue my journey.


Living Retired

Once you hit age 50 or thereabouts it’s normal to find yourself thinking of retirement. Hopefully you have been preparing along the way and find yourself financially able to make the move when you are ultimately ready. You don’t want to begin planning to retire in your 50’s – by that time there is not much runway remaining to launch your transition. But assuming along the way you have been diligent, consistent in your savings efforts, realistic about the future and more than a little lucky, when your second act rolls in you should find yourself able to relax and look forward to good times.

You might find living the retired life a bit challenging at first. After decades spent with others telling you what to do – also known as the job – as a retiree you suddenly find you are in control of how you spend your time. You decide what to do and when to do it. The freedom can be intoxicating – what an awesome opportunity to spend your hours in pursuit of what you love! But what if you don’t have any particular passions or have not yet identified any? Suddenly that independence can feel a burden as you try to fill your day with “things” to keep you busy, keep you engaged, and bring meaning to your existence.

And how do you define meaning in your new role as full time retiree? Back in the working world deadlines and goals helped determine success. A completed project provided a clear measure of accomplishment. Perhaps a promotion justified long hours spent proving yourself as it moved you ever higher in the food chain. In the working world things are more quantifiable. In retirement meaning is often a bit fuzzier, more elusive.

Not every moment need be spent in meaningful pursuit of noble causes. As a bone fide retiree you have earned the right to do nothing, to chill, and just relax. I think you better serve your cause by seeking a balance between relaxation and meaningful activities. On a little, off a little.

In retirement you don’t worry about fancy titles. In fact it is often those who held lofty titles in the working world who find it hardest to adjust to a life where fellow retirees are peers instead of subordinates. Power trippers beware – when you retire you leave your fame and glory behind. It is important to be happy with who you are outside of work. The good news is you can now spend time figuring out exactly who that person will be. Just because you are no longer contributing to the bottom line does not mean you cannot contribute to living a fulfilling second act.

Having focused long and hard on building your nest egg as you saved all you possibly could, don’t be surprised if in retirement you find yourself reluctant to part with those hard earned dollars. A reader of LoveBeingRetired explains his dilemma: “Spending money is a huge deal for me. Guided by a certified planner for the past 31+ years, we’ve saved and invested just for this very retirement period I recently started. With saving and living beneath means for so many years, I can’t seem to just flip the switch to start spending. NOTHING seems to be of enough value to me to spend the money. Everything seems SO expensive these days that I persuade myself that I can live without it.”

Who among us is free from the fear of running out of money? With realistic hopes of living 10 or 20 years as retirees an extended future is in store for many.  We all want our finances to last to the end. But it is important to remember what all the years of frugal living was intended for – to subsidize the retirement lifestyle we want. If we refuse to spend anything we risk missing out. A little prioritization of what really matters along with a bit of loosening of the purse strings can be just the ticket. Frugality is essential but so is balancing a heavy wallet with a happy heart.

Responsibility in retirement is different. To this point the focus has been on taking care of others whether a demanding boss or a dependent child. In the retirement world you are elevated to first billing. Your happiness is no longer automatically superseded by those around you. Now is the time to spoil you. The trick is learning to become comfortable with this new state of affairs. It is not always easy to let go or to trust in the abilities of others to get things done. But if you can, if you are able to direct your efforts toward you and your retirement happiness, you will have discovered one of the secrets of what it means to be retired.

When you retire you are afforded a glimpse into a new future, a future that is more in your control than any other time in your life. You obligations are fewer. Experience has taught you how to cope with not-so-easy situations. Your happiness matters. And if you hope to stay on track there is no place for regret. Worrying about the past is a waste. What you might have done differently is irrelevant since you cannot change or fix it. The important thing is what you do from this moment onward.

Retirement is only the beginning of a new chapter. Daily life will be interesting, sometimes exciting, at times challenging. Remember you are at the wheel. You chart your own course. Drive safely and enjoy the journey!