7 Steps to Retirement Success
Plan for Adventure
Retirement is a new life, and it is even more true today when life is healthier and longer. The retirement years can no longer be taken for granted. You can plan for at least another 40 or so years.
Remember, life does not stop at retirement. In fact, it just gets better. Now, you have your chance to do the things you have always wanted to do. Yes, face the challenge of a new life.
Create a new life. Skip the experience of being a nobody without the status that a job gives. Fret not for the absence of a regular place to go to and dress up for, the companionship of colleagues, and the challenge of work that is no longer there.
Stop staring at Grumpy, the equally beleaguered spouse. That is NOT a good plan. Going for coffee everyday is no substitute. Your children and grandchildren get tired of your constant poking about, and you lose your patience, too. The flaming carcass of the family relationship spacecraft is moments away from ground zero.
7 Steps to Planning for Life at Retirement
This guide will show you how to plan your retirement so that you can live it to the fullest. Here are some steps to plan for it more effectively:
- Determine your needs at retirement.
- Do something you've always desired.
- Leverage your current job for new career opportunities.
- Track down what you really value.
- Transition your way to retirement.
- Create the job or hobby that gives you life.
- Be a newbie again.
Plan to Get Engaged in Something
Or you will live your retirement years grumping at your grandkids. Before we retired, I remembered the hours my husband (Grumpy) and I agonized over what we'll do in the future.
We knew that we couldn't just move into long-term parking until we were towed away! As we listened to friends blathering on about doing nothing or putzing about at golf or food banks, fear struck us like a knife.
One thing we had learned from Grumpy's parents was that unless you plan for your life, you will live many of your retirement years in regret. So, about five years before the "Big Leap," we started working on a life plan designed for us.
1. Determine Your Needs at Retirement
Are you thinking of working at retirement? Some retirees need to work to augment their income, given that most of them live longer now.
Some just want to be engaged, as those years can be boring—and they just can't wait for 4 o'clock to go to the club, and the coffee shops can get really depressing.
Determine for yourself what will make you happy at retirement. Have a plan. Review this after a year of retirement and adjust it. Your needs become clearer after some experience. Just be sure to have one now to give your retirement some direction.
2. Do Something You Have Always Desired
Retirement is your chance to do that something you so desire but never had the time when you were busy at work.
We had glimpses of this in the beginning. We knew what made us happy and what gave us energy. We knew that tourist travel of four countries in a week was about as empty an experience as just sitting at home.
We did not arrive at a plan fast. No. I still remember the many walks we had at the beach in Siesta Key agonizing at how we want to live our retirement. Florida pushes this issue right in your face.
So questions were asked. One we spent time on was:
How could we travel, stay a bit longer, and learn more about other peoples' lives and culture and desires and hopes?
We had always been in education and development, and maybe in this combination we could find a package of interest-driven activities that would be a workable plan B.
3. Leverage Your Current Job for New Career Opportunities
So we began to leverage our current jobs. We poked through our skills and the contacts given by employment to see what could be done. We checked with bosses for what we still can do for the organization. Because of our skills and reputation, it was easy to find some fits.
What was clear was that people have a sense of what they enjoy most in the job they do now or at other times in their career. My husband and I knew that what we really enjoyed in our jobs was traveling, getting into new places, meeting new people, new challenges, and new areas we haven't tried before, so we could stretch our minds and learn new skills.
Just as important was helping other people—not charity or aid, but empowering them to be the best in what they do.
Learn From What Others Do
You have one life to live, and when you plan it early on, you reap the benefits of a blessed life.
4. Track Down What You Really Value
When you track down the particular thing that is important to you, take note. How can you get this in your retirement? What possibilities are there to keep chasing the things you consider of value to your life?
Will your current job provide you opportunities to still enjoy this after retirement? Explore this. Will your current employer allow you to do even more of those activities you enjoy most, part time of course?
5. Transition Your Way to Retirement
Manage the transition to better your life. What we did was sign a transitional consulting contract for two years with the company my husband was working with. We continued working on some of the programs that we were handling when we were still working.
Why a contract? Remember this. When you're retired, they no longer have a responsibility towards you. So unless this is a business deal, do not depend on this. The new boss can just easily get out of this. Even if they are bound legally, you will be in misery.
We had a pension, so we could take a serious cut as we learned the new role as independent consultants. This arrangement assured us of work for at least two years when we were just establishing ourselves as consultants, and it gave us a framework on how to do this. It was a good transition strategy. After two years, we were ready.
So, give yourself the luxury of time to find out what you really want to do at retirement. You now have a pension to support you to do this.
6. Create the Job or Hobby That Gives You Life
We created our jobs. While still at work, you can create the jobs that you can do part time, so you can enjoy some free time to explore other things. We knew we wanted to go into consulting. We did not plan this to be full time.
But when we started, we just kept getting work and had to be really careful to protect the months we had designated to be home with our families. All our contracts respected this. In cases when we had offers that intruded, we just said NO.
You have to make your priorities clear. Otherwise, you will feel that you are deprived once again of your freedom, which you had been looking forward to for so long.
Do you plan to work at retirement?
7. Be a Newbie Again
Lastly, we studied anything we could find on our target geography, any new directions in our skill sets. It was like being a newbie again on the first job. It was amazing fun.
Remember this. What you want is to have fun at retirement, not just work for the sake of engagement. Do something that is fun. The work we're doing is fun for us.
Without a Plan, You Can Find Yourself in a Well-Funded Dead End
Our finances are always there in our view. I concentrate on this while my husband concentrates on the contracts and contacts. We had practiced these roles while still in our jobs, so this was not a difficult transition. OK, that's our story.
The key is not us and our activities though. It is the basic reality that without a life plan before you retire, you may end up in a well-funded dead end, not feeling wanted or needed. Be wary of falling into a deep, boring rut—the only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth!
Today is the best day to do something for your retirement.
Are you retiring this year?
© 2010 Mary Norton