Retirement, unlike death, does not happen to all of us. Yet, I have been fascinated with retirement since I was about thirty years of age. Looking back, I think it was because my parents talked about it and planned for it openly with us.
They both worked hard and purposefully to be able to retire when my dad turned fifty-five. And they did it even though not all they planned happened and many things unplanned showed up in life. They held the course and we all celebrated his retirement together with a great family party.
I chose sixty as my “retirement date”. Unlike my parents, I did not plan or work toward this goal. I just thought it would all work out without fully understanding the important things about retirement.
Along the way, I learned these 3 things to know about retirement.
Age should not be the goal
As we all know, age has an important role in retirement planning.
When will I be able to get social security? When will I have enough in my 401K? And when will the children be out of college?
I learned that I was so wrapped up in those calculations that I did not give enough planning for relationships in retirement. Sufficient money gives strength to our retirement but good relationships are also needed for a fulfilling retirement life.
When my husband passed several years ago, my relationships changed and my circle of friends reduced. I continued to financially prepare for retirement, but I was not building relationships.
As I got closer to retirement, I learned I needed to quickly commit to working on life relationships.
Lesson learned: Expand your thinking and build relationships and resources in preparation for retirement.
Practice makes perfect even in retirement planning
After over forty years of working and the longest length of time off being twenty-one days (except sick leave), I had no reality of what it would be like to not go to work for days and days and days. After watching several people plan for retirement and even having a list of all the things they want and will do when they retire, I realized something.
Finding themselves feeling lost and becoming borderline depressed unless they were traveling or being constantly active, I learned that I needed to practice what my uneventful retirement days will look like.
I began to do a daily plan at home for uneventful days between trips and gatherings so that I could envision those days as well.
Lesson learned: Practice designing those days before you retire so that they work perfectly with you when you are retired. Events and travels are fun to plan and allow for, but your regular retirement days are what will bring joy, peace, and comfort to your life.
Retirement is the layover
Most of our lives are like a flight with a layover. We work (first flight), retire (layover), and die (final flight).
Some layovers are longer than others. However, no matter how long they are, we all want to know where to catch our connecting flight. I need to know where I am going so I know what final flight I am going to catch or be ready to board on. You may not believe as I do but believe in something that will be your final destination.
I decided back when I was still on the first flight that I wanted to go to heaven so I made that choice. Now that I am on my layover, I am so glad I did because I have peace that when my final flight is called, I can get on that flight with peace knowing where I am going and why.
Lesson learned: Choose and believe now. When you are on a layover, you can be at peace. You won’t have to pace or stand in line at the attendant desk asking where you are going next.
I am just starting the layover and I hope these three simple yet important things to know about retirement can give you a clearer understanding and expectation of what’s to come.