We spend decades dreaming of the day when life won’t be dictated by alarm clocks, commute times, meeting schedules and office politics. Then reality sets in: Retirement can be kind of a drag. There may be 20-plus years of it ahead of you.
What? How can retirement be a drag? You’re not going to the office every day, subjected to the personalities and pitfalls of office politics. The first month is glorious, then it sets in: you’re on your own now. No schedule, no one telling you what to do. The lack of structure isn’t for everyone, says Next Avenue in the article “How to Keep Retirement From Being A Drag.”
The simple fact is, most people plan for the financial and legal aspects of retirement: how much they need to save, how much of a bite inflation will take, the cost of healthcare, long-term healthcare, etc. However, most people neglect to think about the emotional impact of retirement.
Work is where many people get their sense of purpose and their identity. Talk to any working parent who steps out of their career trajectory for a few years. It’s a similar shift, except there is no smiling cooing baby to keep you busy. If you don’t have projects, meetings, or deadlines, or the community of the workplace, what defines you?
This sense of being adrift occurs to people regardless of their income level and may be even more intense for successful people who are used to running a business, commandeering a company or managing a busy desk.
Here are some suggestions for making sure your life during retirement is enjoyable and has purpose and meaning.
Set your alarm and have a reason to get up every day. After you’ve taken the big trip, spent time with your grandchildren and organized your closets, what’s next? It’s time for you now, time to do things that you’ve always wanted to but for reasons of time, could not. That might mean taking up a sport, expanding a hobby, becoming an active volunteer or returning to school to explore a subject you love?
Consider yourself to be on a fixed salary. The transition from paycheck to drawing down savings can be unnerving. You’re sitting on a huge pile of money—but it must last two or even three decades. Create a post-retirement budget before you retire and don’t forget to include healthcare, taxes and potential emergencies. Also consider which assets to draw from and in what order. Do you use your 401(k) funds first, or start with cash? Avoid this retirement rookie mistake: taking out too much cash in the initial stage of retirement.
Talk with your partner and family. Will you both retire at the same time? If one is still working and the other is not, how will you divide up chores? If your work schedules meant you didn’t see each other for more than a few minutes during the week, spending 24/7 together is a big change. Do you expect to spend all your time together, or will there be some “me” time? Will your children expect you to babysit on a regular basis?
Moving into the retirement years is a big change in life, and the more prepared you are, both in terms of having an estate plan, retirement funds and a plan for your time, the more fulfilling and enjoyable your retirement will be.
Reference: Next Avenue (Nov. 29, 2018) “How to Keep Retirement From Being A Drag”