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7 Crucial Steps to Retirement Success

Mary has already retired from her job and also helps organizations with steps on how to reward their employees, including retirees.

If you plan your retirement well, you'll be able to live it up the way you want to—and this guide will show you how.

If you plan your retirement well, you'll be able to live it up the way you want to—and this guide will show you how.

Plan for Adventure

Retirement is a new life, and it is even more true today when life is healthier and longer. Thus, you can no longer take it for granted. You can plan for at least another 40 or so years.

Remember, life does not stop at retirement. 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 every day is no substitute. Your children and grandchildren get tired of your constant poking, and you lose your patience. The flaming carcass of the family relationship spacecraft is moments away from ground zero.

7 Steps to Planning for Life in Retirement

This guide will show you how to plan your retirement to live it to the fullest. Here are some steps to prepare for it more effectively:

  1. Determine your needs at retirement.
  2. Do something you've always desired.
  3. Leverage your current job for new career opportunities.
  4. Track down what you value.
  5. Transition your way to retirement.
  6. Create the job or hobby that gives you life.
  7. Be a newbie again.
Plan for engagement at retirement.

Plan for engagement at retirement.

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 they towed us away! Fear struck us like a knife as we listened to friends blathering on about doing nothing or putting about at golf or food banks.

We learned from Grumpy's parents 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.

Retirement can be as joyous as you choose to make it.

Retirement can be as joyous as you choose to make it.

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 want to be engaged, as those years can be tedious—and they can't wait for 4 o'clock to go to the club, and the coffee shops can get 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 more evident after some experience. Just be sure to have one now to give your retirement some direction.

Retirement can be your big push to do everything you always wanted to do.

Retirement can be your big push to do everything you always wanted to do.

2. Do Something You Have Always Desired

Retirement is your chance to do something you so desire but never had the time for 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 to 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 wanted to live our retirement. Florida pushes this issue right in your face.

So we tackled a few questions. 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.

Consider talking to your employers to see how you can leverage your current job statuses for new opportunities.

Consider talking to your employers to see how you can leverage your current job statuses for new opportunities.

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 we could do. We checked with bosses about what we still can do for the organization. Because of our skills and reputation, it was easy to find some fits.

It was clear 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 wanted in our jobs was travelling, getting into new places, meet new people, new challenges, and new areas we hadn'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.

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 existing employer allow you to do even more of those activities you enjoy most part-time?

5. Transition Your Way to Retirement

Manage the transition to better your life. We signed a transitional consulting contract for two years with the company where my husband was working. We continued doing some of the programs we were handling.

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 quickly get out of this. Even if they are bound legally, you will be in misery.

We had a pension, so we could take a severe cut as we learned the new role as independent consultants. This arrangement assured us of work for at least two years when we were 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 want to do at retirement. You now have a pension to support you in doing this.

Finding hobbies that you love can play a massive role in making your retirement truly fulfilling.

Finding hobbies that you love can play a massive role in making your retirement truly fulfilling.

6. Create the Job or Hobby That Gives You Life

We created our jobs. While still at work, you can do 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 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 deprived of your freedom, which you have been looking forward to for so long.

7. Be a Newbie Again

Lastly, we studied anything we could find in our target geography and any new directions in our skill sets. It was like being a newbie again on the first job. It was terrific fun.

Remember this. What you want is to have fun at retirement, not just work for engagement. Do something fun. The work we're doing is fun for us.

If you're not enjoying your retirement, what's the point?

If you're not enjoying your retirement, what's the point?

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 focuses 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 fundamental reality that you may end up in a well-funded dead end without a life plan before you retire, 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!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2010 Mary Norton

What are you doing now for your retirement? Or what did you do to have a life at retirement?

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on November 27, 2019:

Excellent article. Helpful. Thanks.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on November 22, 2019:

It's great. Both engagements are wonderful.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on November 21, 2019:

My husband and I are both retired but we still work at the things we love. We both create: he with video work and I with painting. We may never really retire.



Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on November 19, 2019:

Thanks, Robert. I think it is important that we set our mindset to what will make life better for us.

Robert Sacchi on November 18, 2019:

Interesting philosophy.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on November 18, 2019:

I think the best thing to do is to enjoy it.

Robert Sacchi on November 17, 2019:

Good pointers. My worry at retirement is what to do at Retirement +31 days? I never liked the idea of a decision I can't reverse.

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on April 19, 2018:

Thank you, Li-Jen. I'm glad you're inspired. The best way to plan is really when you're still young.

Li-Jen Hew on April 19, 2018:

Hi Mary. Thank you so much for your article. Although I'm not retired, I am still inspired to make a plan like yours before I retire! :)

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on January 16, 2016:

I have to ask my friend for the Vietnamese translation. We worked there but am not really good at the language. We sometimes go to Great Ayton in North Yorkshire to visit our daughter. She happens to work in the Royal Mail. Both my husband and I are history majors and though retired, we still work as consultants on education projects. Your interest is so much part of ours.

Alan R Lancaster from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire) on January 16, 2016:

Hello Mary (aesta1), here's me tripping the light fantastic in your world.

I took early retirement from a tiresome job at Royal Mail in August, 2008. Things were a bit tight for a while but I've had money back on PPI claims (protected payment insurance, it's like the Mafia lottery) and the odd part-time job including a few seasons as Museum Steward at Lord's Cricket Ground (in London NW8).

My main interest is the writing. English and British, Celtic and post-Roman history, travel in the North East and Yorkshire, Vikings, Railway Modelling... And my books. Five self-published so far in a saga series that goes back to September, 1066 in and near York. These Hub-pages add interest to life and a little extra income.

What's the Vietnamese for 'Keep on Truckin'?

Susie Lehto from Minnesota on May 04, 2015:

Mary, thank you for your vote of confidence. I felt that!

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on May 04, 2015:

Susie, you are very resourceful so you will manage very well.

Susie Lehto from Minnesota on April 30, 2015:

Mary, I wish I had a good retirement plan in place. Because I do not, I will have to live by faith and not look at my bank account as my source, God is.

This is a very useful article, and if only I could do some things over.

Anne Morrison on February 10, 2015:

Very important to have still have goals before entering retirement. Thank you for the book recommendations!

othellos on June 29, 2013:

Excellent lens. We save money for retirement but with all these global economic changes that happen every day we are in great doubt if we will be able to reach our goal. Interesting suggestions and valuable tips. Thanks for sharing:=)

Mary Norton (author) from Ontario, Canada on October 03, 2012:

@Maurice123: Thank you. That is exactly the right thing to do. Plan to have a great life when you retire.

Maurice123 on September 24, 2012:

Hi dear you so right as the majority of us save money and plan for rainy days which is so far from any logic.

Yes we should work on a plan to improve and better ourselves. Therefore we plan for better days and for life and not for rainy days retirement. Thank you your article was worth reading.

Gloria Freeman from Alabama USA on June 21, 2012:

Hi great info and tips on retirement. I enjoyed reading this lens.

kimbesa from USA on June 10, 2012:

In the middle, one foot on the boat, the other on the dock. Getting the pieces in place.

Interdev on May 08, 2012:

With no demands on you, I think you accelerate personal collapse. Plan to keep engaged any way you can.

RetroMom on April 01, 2012:

This is a great lens. It is really important that we plan ahead.

Tony Payne from Southampton, UK on January 02, 2012:

You have some excellent ideas and information here. I expect to retire in 10 years, which is when I finish paying child support, and since that takes a sizeable chunk out of my income every month, we are unable to save anything for our retirement, which means that all the good ideas in the world are no good unless you have spare income that you can save. We only have two hopes for retirement, the first is to win the lottery, and the second is to build a decent online income through writing etc, which will help to supplement our earnings/pensions. Wishing you success in your retirement, and the health to enjoy a long one. Blessed.

poutine on December 28, 2011:

Love this article.

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on December 06, 2011:

Hi I am back again to remind myself how wonderful this article on retirement really is. Have a wonderful holiday season.

anonymous on September 27, 2011:

I guess moving on in life from birth till the end should be one smooth flow and retirement can never be a dead-end! If you love whatever you do in life, one never retires IMO. Very valuable tips on offer here! :)

Lorelei Cohen from Canada on April 29, 2011:

Just letting you know that there is a topic titled healthy living-aging-retirement. I am the angel in the aging category and blessed this one because it is on an aging topic. Best wishes

greenkat lm on March 05, 2011:

Great advice - really makes you think. Thanks!

anonymous on March 02, 2011:

Great advice on retirement!

moonlitta on March 02, 2011:

You are perfectly right and retirement is another part of our lives which shouldn't be treated worse than the rest of it.

RinchenChodron on December 18, 2010:

Very wise advise. Great lens.

nort43 on October 21, 2010:

We all have stories to tell. You do it better than most. Great lessons in this for 40 year olds. Keep writing.