4 Great Ways to Learn About Retirement

My daughter was recently at a deli where she overheard a couple in the next booth discussing retirement. They were talking about reading a recent article on the blog LoveBeingRetired.com. With a smile on her face she leaned over and said that happens to be the blog her dad writes. I felt good knowing that my writing might be helpful to those planning their own retirement. I also realized that for many people preparing to retire, finding relevant information to help in their efforts may be confusing and difficult. If you want to know what to expect when you retire, where can you turn?

Before we retire, it’s helpful to understand what we are getting into. Here are some good places to learn about what to expect in retirement:

Retirement blogs. I have found the information related by writers of retirement-focused blogs to be very helpful to my own efforts to prepare for retirement. These bloggers are in various stages of retirement planning. Some are still preparing for the future, some are just making the transition and others have been living the retired life for years. Never having been retired, their posts share a learning process filled with trial and error as they search for what will best contribute to a fulfilling and exciting retirement. The honest experiences they share provide real life examples of what works as well as what does not work. By reading their stories we can learn from their wisdom and avoid repeating their mistakes.

Current retirees. If you really want to know what it is like to be retired, talk with people who are already retired. If you have a neighbor who has been out of the working world for awhile, pay him a visit or take him out for a cup of coffee to learn firsthand about his retirement experiences. If your parents are retired, see what words of wisdom they can share. You may want to visit the local senior community center to see if you can find someone willing to spend some time enlightening you. I find most seniors are more than happy to spend some time and share their life experiences with an attentive and interested retiree-to-be.

Test drive your retirement. If you really want to experience what life is like as a retiree, you may want to take a test drive of retirement. That way you can tell if you are truly ready for permanent retirement or just burnt out on what you have been doing and in need of a change. If you are able to take some extended time away from work, you can get a feeling of how your days may look as a retiree. It can be helpful to experience firsthand the freedom to do as you choose with your time, the lack of stress and strain, the challenge of finding worthwhile endeavors to fill your time and the balance you will want to achieve between activity and relaxation. A retirement test drive may give you a snapshot of what awaits you for those 20 or more years you hope to live in retirement.

Books, magazines and independent reports. When it comes to planning for retirement, there are many books and magazines that can offer useful advice. I find the monthly AARP magazine very insightful. They address the myriad of topics that impact those planning to retire as well as those already retired. As for books on retirement, I recommend reading through the reviews of those who have read before you to get some insight into just what you can expect. With so many to choose from, a little unbiased third-party feedback can be very helpful. The Employee Benefit Research Institute comes out with regular surveys and studies concerning health, savings, retirement and economic security issues that can help improve your understanding of important areas of retired life. And, of course, sharing your thoughts and questions with friends and family might help you uncover additional useful sources of retirement information.

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.

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.


The Reality of Involuntary Retirement

It was not all that long ago that people could hope to stay gainfully employed with a company for many years and perhaps even an entire career. Loyalty was a two-way street with employees working hard to complete the tasks at hand while companies valued their individual contribution and experience gained over the years of dedicated employment. The number of years on the job was a plus and seniority was a virtue.

Now job hopping has become the norm and longevity at a single job is a distant memory. It is likely that current workers will move through multiple jobs during a career. Sometimes job changes are the result of a personal decision to find something new or better. But many workers find themselves forced from current jobs into a market overpopulated with many other highly-qualified individuals searching for their next gig. For aging employees, a layoff or buyout can be especially challenging:

  • Half of current retirees say they retired earlier than they originally planned to mainly due to health or disability issues, according to a 2012 Employee Benefit Research Institute study.
  • In addition to health issues, seniors may find themselves out of a job due to economic issues beyond their control including a company being purchased or merged with another resulting in a duplication of roles, downsizing to adjust for changing demand, or even outliving a company that has run its course.
  • The median length of unemployment has more than tripled for those over 55 since the recession started. What was typically 10 weeks of unemployment prior to the recession ballooned to 35 weeks by 2011.
  • Increasing health care costs may cause a reluctance to re-hire older workers because employers may assume they will be expensive to insure.

But there are ways to recover from an unexpected early retirement. Here are a few ways to cope with an involuntary retirement:

Try to save your job. Before you just accept a layoff, you may want to plead your case to your employer. Explain in detail the value you add to the company, the years of experience that have made you a model of efficiency, how you set an example for others, and why it makes sense to keep you. Be specific with examples of just how you have made things better. Describe the cost of hiring and training a replacement and the risk of hiring the wrong person and losing months of productivity. Help to diffuse the misconception that older workers are more expensive by explaining your health care coverage no longer includes dependents and the pay you receive is commensurate with your experience. But the unfortunate reality is that this is an uphill battle if the decision has been implemented across the company and the wheels are already in motion.

Start your own business. Sometimes losing your job can be just the push needed to do something yourself. Instead of the daily grind you can pursue a course that you feel passionate about. Whether a short term choice until you find something else or a new career, taking those first steps when you have no other choice can get the ball rolling. If you enjoy identifying and completing one project at a time you may want to look into contracting or consulting engagements that utilize your past work experience. Home-based businesses can be created that require a minimal initial investment and provide flexibility in hours without the hassle of commuting. Turn a hobby that you enjoy into a money generator, whether you are an aspiring writer, crafter, musician, builder, or blogger. Try to view this as not only an unexpected challenge but also an opportunity.

Volunteer. If you find you need to continue working but have few options available you may want to consider volunteering for a period of time at an organization you are interested in. Get in the door and build a reputation as a hard, dedicated, energetic worker in the hopes of being in the right place at the right time when other opportunities arise.

Retire. Despite their best efforts, some people will find that the working world has few opportunities for older workers. Only a third of older workers displaced between 2007 to 2009 found full-time work by 2010, and often at reduced wages, according to a Government Accountability Office report. Many seniors want and need to work, but sometimes they simply can’t find a job that’s a good match for their current skills. Unexpected early retirees may need to significantly cut their expenses and change their lifestyle in order to live on the amount they have saved.

From my US News & World Blog. 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.