RetirementIt's All About CHOICE
Far too many people awake on day one of retirement and ask, "What now?" Very few would wait until that moment to ask the same question about their financial readiness. Why is that? Is it easier to talk about money than lifestyle?
Money can certainly be a more generic topic and yet more precise. There are an infinite number of actuarial tables, investment models, calculators and capable advisors to determine how long one can live, at what drawdown and reinvestment rate, and not outlive one's money. But, that ignores the actual living. What is the money for, after all?
This is where most people get stymied and put off retirement or retire to be rudderless or bored. What can you do to prepare for this non-financial side? First, determine what retirement is for you. I ask people to make a list of every conceivable retirement image, go through the list and visualize playing that role. Sometimes retirement isn't retiring at all but starting a whole new career, often from the perspective of no "elder" giving heavy-handed advice.
Next, understand the myths. It can be reassuring to see statistics that show retirement doesn't necessarily mean fading away or being demented and in a nursing home.
Once you begin visualizing yourself in the retirement picture, just as in financial planning, there are steps to take to prepare for living your retirement. While there are many aspects to consider, I believe they can be reduced to six major areas: Connections, Health, Outlook, Interests, Courage and Esteem.
Get connected. Most articles on retirement and aging indicate that social connections are extremely important in living longer and happier. Did anyone ever die with too many friends?
See to your health. Good health is the obvious requirement. All the money in the world cannot compensate.
Get a handle on your outlook. A positive attitude, a healthy disregard for one's age, and a willingness to participate are essential.
Broaden your interests. Without continuing curiosity about the fascinating time and place we live in, retirement can be dull and uninteresting.
Get courageous. Tremendous courage is required to just get older with grace and humor. Be prepared and meet them head-on!
Create the esteem to keep you going. Often, when we leave the job we have had for so many years, we become a shell of our former selves. Know who and how you want to be.
There is a powerful acronym in these six steps, CHOICE. I challenge you to go beyond financial planning; to actively take charge and make choices about how you want to live and who you want to be. The CHOICE belongs to you.