About twenty years ago, I started to think about my retirement. It wasn’t time, of course. But I’m a planner, so it wasn’t too soon in my estimation. I started by thinking about my parents, and my wife’s parents. They retired at the traditional age. They had pensions and social security for income, and they also had some savings. I remembered that while they were able to meet their day-to-day expenses, they were reluctant to spend their nest egg on extra activities because they didn’t know if they would need it in the future.
This was sort of an epiphany for me. I had already started adding travel to my lifestyle and found I loved it. The thought of not being able to continue it after retirement was unthinkable! That is when I began to realize that I didn’t want to have my parents’ retirement.
Fast forward to my middle sixties. I was still thinking about a traditional retirement. I envisioned my wife and I not working any longer. But I also envisioned lots of travel. We had already begun checking travel destinations off our bucket list, but it seemed to continue expanding as we thought of new places to see.
One of the lessons I learned from traveling was that after about 2-3 weeks, I was ready to come home. It was at this point that I also realized that I couldn’t see myself not working in some fashion. I needed to revamp my plan. I would continue to work but take more time off. This required planning my trips in advance so my time would be marked out on the calendar and my staff knew not to schedule anything for that time period.
I have since sold my financial planning practice, and I continued in a new line of work. Working from home has opened my eyes to an entire community of retirees who have days to fill.
I live in an over-55 community. One day I introduced myself to some new residents and asked them what brought them from North Jersey to my neck of the woods. Their response was that they wanted to be closer to their grandchildren and spend more time with them. They paused and then continued to explain their vision was that they would spend a few hours, one or two days a week with them. But they now find themselves full-time childcare providers.
The lesson here is that if you don’t plan your time, and communicate it to others, someone else will.
Others are always ready with a plan to fill your time. It might be OK; it might be something you want to do. But there will be times that it won’t.
In order to enjoy your life to the fullest, you need to be in control. Time is one area that we often don’t pay much attention to. Up until retirement, our time was often regulated by our work, our children’s needs and interests, and our own responsibilities.
But there will come a time when those factors won’t be so prominent. You might reduce or even end your work time to enjoy more activities and interests. To be effective, creating a plan is the way to make sure you actually get to enjoy those activities and interests. Equally important, you need to communicate that plan to others, so they don’t try to take control.
I can’t emphasize enough how important the plan is. A plan is not a bucket list. It goes beyond that. As a planner, I see the bigger picture. The bucket list is the first part; you need to know how and where you want to spend your money in order to know how much you need.
Goal based planning is a good way to approach the process. Set the goals, and then figure out how to accomplish them. The money is important. Where will it come from? Do you need to continue working to generate spendable income?
Don’t forget health and time. Plan more active lifestyle things early on while you still have the ability to enjoy them. Implement a plan to maintain good health and fitness.
And don’t forget to manage your time. Steve Jobs once said, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
I invite you to explore these retirement issues and more on my bi-weekly podcast, Changing the Rules. Find it on your favorite podcast site or go to Changing The Rules.
By Raymond D. Lowe