Retirement Checklist Revisited

Back in 2010 when I wrote my first post for Retirement – Only the Beginning I did not realistically have much of an understanding of what it meant to be retired. I knew or at least hoped I would retire sometime down the road. As for what that retired life would look like I was pretty clueless. That ultimately became the motivation for my blog – figuring out what I could do to best prepare myself to live a fulfilling meaningful retirement. And as I have reiterated in past blogs the focus of my efforts was on those many important considerations other than financial. Although money is a key piece of the puzzle I was convinced there was much more to living happily retired than just a fat wallet. The trick was to figure exactly what those pieces were before rather than after retirement commenced.

As the years progressed I began to better comprehend the challenges as well as opportunities that awaited me. I started digging into what I thought would matter most in my second act. What would I do, what was important to me, what would challenge me and keep me engaged, and ultimately what would make me happy? I began to create a mental checklist – a work perpetually in progress. Over the years I have modified my checklist making an addition here and a deletion there.

Here are a few of what I have identified as most important considerations to foster a happy retirement. Let’s see how things are progressing as I enter year number three of retired bliss.

Take time to smell the roses

In other words learn to enjoy life. After 30 years living at a pace slightly slower than the speed of light it is not easy to take it down a notch. In the startup world the focus has always been on getting more and more done in less and less time. Rolling into retirement in this state of mind was not a good idea – at all. In the early days of retirement I felt guilty if I was not doing something “meaningful” with every free moment. I was unable to enjoy Welcome Flowerthe freedom I have since learned can be a most satisfying part of each day. But I am getting better. For example, in our new home we have a lot of roses – I’m talking about more than 80 bushes sprinkled around the property. My first instinct was to tear out the thirty-or-so in the front and replace them with saw grass, ornate lava rocks and a splash of low-maintenance color. I had a picture clearly in my mind and was planning the changes from the first day we moved in. Then I began to look more closely at the roses, to see them for the beauties they really were. Colors ran the gamut from yellow to blood red to peppermint. Wonderful aromas wafted up from each as I sniffed them in turn. Maybe it made sense to enjoy them a bit before taking any drastic action. Why not keep an eye and a nostril on them for a year or two and see if we like them as they are. What was the hurry? It sounds simple but coming from my do it now background this was monumental. This morning I cut a sample from four bushes to create a bouquet for the kitchen that reinforces my decision to take it easy, don’t be in a hurry, just smell the roses (literally). I have to say I am enjoying this healthier happier pace.

Be sure to sync up retirement plans with your spouse

As I have shared earlier my wife recently joined me in retirement. Until then she was hard at work while I endeavored to perfect the retired life we would live by getting started early. As she inched closer to her final months we began to discuss in more detail just what was ahead. There are views we hold in common and some where we differ. Nothing surprising here as that could describe any time in our relationship. But in retirement we are learning to pay closer attention. Since we are together 24/7 little annoyances might grow in significance if ignored. On the other hand by sharing openly we may discover shared interests we have ignored and now have time to explore. I think the retirement sync will be ongoing. What has helped us is a willingness to discuss and compromise. Another work in progress but we are making progress.

Try to be healthy in body and mind

It is not always easy to squeeze in time for exercise when you are working 60 hour weeks. And when you finally have a spare moment you are more likely to collapse than drop and give 50 pushups. Retirement is a whole different ball game. You are now in control of your time. What I love about this freedom is I don’t have to force a workout into a designated time slot. I can get my exercise when I feel most inspired to do so. Of course sometimes I have to push myself a little should the inspiration fail to materialize. Eating right is also less challenging once retired. Instead of scarfing a sandwich during a fleeting five minute window you can prepare a more balanced tasty repast. We have located the best French bakery in the area (think fresh baguette) along with the closest weekly farmers market (think fresh fruit and veggies and local fish) and a cheese shop to end all (fromage!). I look forward to meals as we creatively combine local goodies never sure exactly what we will end up with but always pleased. We all know how important it is for our health and wellbeing to get regular exercise and eat well. Retirement can provide the time and flexibility to take care of yourself like you should.

Unleash the creative you

Retirees have free time on their hands. How they choose to spend it is entirely up to them. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to keep busy. If what you do is what you enjoy, keep doing it. I have found retirement a good time to revisit old passions as well as investigate new things. I like to write (blogging), I love music (back at the piano keys), I love nature (hiking nearby park or walking coastal paths), I have discovered a previously unknown love for Paris (taking history classes, learning the language, and visiting when I can), and I am trying my hand at cooking. Who knows what might be next. Doing what I want when I want makes retirement pretty special. I can’t wait for tomorrow!

The Positive Side of Retirement

Post by Maria Prestifilippo

The 21st century has seen an explosion in the older population. The charity Age UK has said that there are currently over 10 million over 65 year olds in the UK today – and this figure is set to grow.

Good News if you are Planning Your Retirement

One way of planning for this important time of your life is to go online and have a look at some of the videos on the McCarthy and Stone YouTube Channel.  You’ll be able to hear stories about empowerment and independence and you’ll also feel reassured that getting older doesn’t mean a decline in your active lifestyle.

Increased Retirement Expectations

The Daily Express recently ran a story about how a retired couple traveled the length of the UK using their bus passes. Retirement definitely has its bonuses including increased
leisure time and many who downsize and move to an owner-occupier retirement community find that they still don’t have enough time to fit in all their activities!

Of course as some get older they do start to suffer with health problems but this doesn’t always entail a move to a care home.

Assisted Living in Retirement

There are now a variety of schemes where those suffering with mobility or other health problems can sell the family home and move into a convenient, adapted flat where they’ll be able to retain their independence, but can call on help if needs be. The doors of these flats are specially adapted for wheelchair users and there’s often a parking area specifically designed for mobility scooters.

Daily tasks can become a real chore as you get older. You might not have enough time or the job of cleaning and maintaining a property has become too difficult. If you stay in your family home you may find it hard to get help at an affordable price. Assisted living is a viable option for those who may want additional help.

In a retirement community, you are free to mix with others including care managers in the event you need assistance, but you can also close your front door and maintain your independent lifestyle.

New Beginnings in Retirement

Retirement used to be seen as the time when life started to slow down. An increasing number of stories show that this certainly isn’t the case in the UK. From pensioner choirs on The X Factor to an increasing number of the retired community taking part in yoga, dancing and other leisure activities, retirement is looked upon as the time to really indulge your interests and take up some new activities. You’ll still be able to entertain your family should you wish – but you may be too busy with your new friends from the retirement community!

Retirement When Your Spouse Still Works

You and your significant other may not retire at the same time. There might be a difference in age that impacts your decision. Or you may decide it makes sense if one of you remains employed to continue to earn income and maintain health coverage. If you happen to retire before your partner, adjustments will need to be made as you try to realize the fulfilling retirement you both desire.

Let’s say that you are the lucky one to retire first while your partner continues to work. As a new retiree, you may initially be a bit unsure who you are supposed to be outside of your working role. The skills you carefully honed over the course of your career may no longer have much relevance in retirement. Who you were on the job is not necessarily who you will be or even want to be as a retiree.

Though you are fortunate enough to retire, many of your friends will still be working every day. Don’t be surprised if some people feel a bit jealous of your new station in life, especially if they are in a situation that makes their own retirement a distant possibility or perhaps unlikely at all. Consider this an opportunity for you to make new friends with interests outside of a job.

Once you depart the working world, your interests may begin to change as well. Without those water cooler discussions and strategy meetings, you will be free to consider what else the world has to offer. You will have time on your hands, so finding new avenues to channel your energy is important and can be exciting. In retirement, it helps to establish a balance between down time and activity, which will both have their place in your second act. There will be days when you will be happy to just sit back and watch the world go by at a stress-free pace. You can be productive tomorrow or the next day, as you now have the freedom to do what you want to.

If your partner is still working, he or she might not be able to relate to your new life in retirement. Your spouse might feel a little animosity as he or she gets out of bed in the cold morning to navigate commuter traffic while you roll over for another hour of blissful sleep. And your division of household duties might need to change. If you are no longer required to work, you could be expected to take over more chores, such as the grocery shopping or taking pets to the vet.

After a busy day of work, your partner may arrive home looking for some quiet time with minimal discussion. However, you, who have been alone for the past ten hours and closely monitoring the clock as their arrival approaches, can hardly wait to share all your day’s activities and accomplishments. You may find yourself wanting to go out to dinner, while your working spouse would much prefer a peaceful night at home with some simple fare. A little sensitivity to the situation can go a long way to help meet both of your needs.

The transition into retirement, whether by one spouse alone or both at the same time, can be helped along by open communication and discussion of important topics. If neither person has been retired before, this is new ground for both people. And with the likelihood of twenty or more years in retirement, the sooner an equitable arrangement is negotiated, the better.

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.