ASK THE RETIREMENT CONCIERGE: PLANNING YOUR RETIREMENT

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By SharonAnn Hamilton

Dear SharonAnn,

August 23, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) - My wife and I are 60 and 62 respectively looking at retirement in a few years. She is a medical researcher and I am a CPA. We feel we have an adequate income prepared for our future but what concerns me is lifestyle. What are we going to do with the 50-60 hours each week when we are not working anymore? Our kids are grown and independent, our parents are happy in their community of friends. We need outside interests, but who has time? We want to make a difference in our world but how and where? I expect we could live 30-40 years and that is a lot of time ahead of us that right now seems daunting. Signed Kind of Lost.

Dear Lost,

Start planning immediately and in writing! You are wise to be concerned about your lifestyle with several years ahead to plan. There is a big world to explore. Not necessarily travel but the world of ideas and possibilities that spring from within. Learn something new regularly.

Your primary factors in life planning are: health, money, family, meaningful activities, friendships and giving. You get to write your own rules! Many experts suggest evaluating yourself on a scale of 1-10, where 1 is what you do not want, and 10 is what you strive for in being the best you can be. For example when you think about your health, are you fit? Are you at your optimum weight or over 10+ pounds? Do you have a condition like high blood pressure than can be resolved by your efforts? Or are you managing a disease? Your own health score could be 2 or 6 and you might choose to spend the next couple of years improving it to the best possible level.

You are fortunate that you will be able to afford your retirement. You can give yourself a 10 on this evaluation. Studies show us up to 94% of all boomers do not feel financially prepared for retirement and are delaying the start date until forced by health or their organization to leave. Some retirees will have to work at something as long as they live. Some retirees have an excess of income over their needs and might plan some gifting to family or charities.

How much interaction do you want with children and grandchildren? Where do you live in relation to them? At retirement would you like to move closer or farther away? Many families live in extended relationship homes where the grandparents take care of the grandchildren while the parents work. It is not for everyone but the important idea here is to find what works for you and your wife, and make it happen.

What will you do with all the time is your fundamental question. There are many approaches you can take together with your wife to start to figure it out. How well do you know yourselves? No one else can tell you, you must find answers that fit you. Research on the internet will show you many resources from books to blogs offering suggestions. You could find some that resonate with you and begin reading regularly. You can explore activities right now that you will enjoy together as well as independently. There are always classes somewhere, from university extension programs to community center programs. You can work with a private teacher who has very personalized tools like assessments and workbooks, discussions and meetings. Perhaps there is a cause you espouse and you want to volunteer some hours like Meals on Wheels or adult literacy programs. Maybe you want to contribute but see what your contribution is doing. You can travel with organizations like World Vision and Heifer. Many churches invite members on their missions trips to Africa or South America. Volunteering in the area of disaster relief brings a great deal of learning along with satisfaction of making an immediate difference for others.

The best strategy for your happy future is to try out many things until you find what rocks you. Conventional wisdom suggests that you make a list of what you might enjoy, then try it out. Weeding out what bores you, keeping what interests you soon you will have many possibilities for your retirement years. Use your vacations to try out your retirement ideas. One day we will all be old and as Aristotle said, ‘Education is the best provision for old age.’ It is time to investigate - you!

There is a great deal of emotional, mental and physical preparation to be done if you are to live a happy, long and healthy life. When you put your goals in writing they are more likely to happen, and your plan gives you direction. Can you imagine setting out on a roadtrip from San Diego, California to Bar Harbor, Maine without a GPS or map? You would waste a great deal of fuel and time, end the day with no place to sleep, and may not even arrive! It is not too soon to begin your written plan.

Some resources you might use to get started:

Gallup Strengthsfinder - assessment of your strengths may indicate a future direction

The Couple’s Retirement Puzzle, Taylor & Mintzer

How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free, Ernie Zelinski

Who’s Your City, Richard Florida

The Blue Zones, Dan Buettner

How to Love your Retirement, Barbara Waxman Special Editor

Since you are reinventing yourselves and you write all the rules, nothing stops you from living in different locations for a few months of the year. Imagine six months in Vancouver BC, six months in Crete, six months in Edinburgh, six months in Addis Ababa. The world is yours to explore and you will be the directors of your lives going forward. You are free! Free to be happy. Free to roam. Free to give yourselves to a cause. Free to flourish.

Gosh, stepping into retirement is almost like going back to a school. Now, however, you have earned the right to be self-directed, to explore your own interests and to follow your heart wherever it leads. In five years you will be older and stepping into your retirement, with or without planning. The choice is yours so hats off to you for starting to investigate right now.

The Retirement Concierge offers personal training on how to thrive in a changing world. We also wrote A 10-Step Action plan for Defining Your Mission helping Boomers on the verge of retirement to plan, make and manage life transitions by guiding them through a systematic process of discovery and re-creation where they write their own rules, make their own plans and reinvent their own lives. www.YourRetirementConcierge.com (619-818-8575).