What are you going to do when you don’t have to do anything?
Many of us dream of these days when we can fill our time doing the things we never had time for while working. Sounds great doesn’t it? Waking up every morning with a completely clean slate. Go fishing, work in the garden, watch TV, meet up with friends, it’s all up to you. But if you don’t plan for what you will do when you retire, you could end up wishing you would have stayed in the workforce. This is because figuring out your finances before retiring may be the most important, but it cannot be the only focus. Figuring out your personality and what makes you happy is essential for a great retirement.
I know what you’re thinking right now, “This will not be a problem for me! You should see the list of all the things I want/need to do!” But you now have all day, every day to work on your list. Think about all of the time you spent, not just at your job, but the commuting to and from. All of that activity is gone. So, even if you have a long retirement to-do list, with all of your extra time, that list might be complete in a couple of months, or less. Then what?
We need to take a more global approach to retirement planning than just making sure we have enough money to survive day-to-day. We don’t want to just survive, we want to thrive! To help ensure you do not overlook the emotional side of retirement planning, here are some questions to ask yourself.
How will I spend my time?
Look beyond your to-do list. When everything is checked off the list, what will you do with the rest of your life? Get to know yourself and what you need. Are you the type of person that can remain active without a routine or schedule? Maybe you need some commitments in your life to keep you motivated like volunteering or a part-time job. Are you a social butterfly who needs regular interaction with other adults, or are you OK with being alone most of time? Answering these questions will help you get to know yourself better in order to identify how you will fill your time productively and happily.
What do you really like to do?
This may seem like a simple question, but think about it. Do you even remember what you really like to do? Some us haven’t been able to pursue our own interests in so long this question is harder than you think. Think about the times in your life when you were the happiest. What were you doing? What was going on in your life that made you feel this way? Do you like to stay physically and mentally sharp? What about travel, how much and where to? How about restarting a forgotten hobby or starting a new one? Spend some time thinking about what you enjoy doing and then do that!
What will motivate you to get out of bed every morning?
Unfortunately many retirees experience periods of deep depression because they have nothing to look forward to. Making a long-term plan and setting retirement goals will help to find the answer to this question. Set out on a quest, start a business, plan social events with old work buddies, sign up for a class, or get a part time job. Anything that will propel you to jump out of bed in the morning will work. Set goals and make a plan about how to achieve them.
How will I react to not working?
Retirement is a mindset just like working is a mindset. When work is suddenly ending, it’s like slamming on the breaks at 100 miles per hour. How will your mind and body react to this new lifestyle? Will you be bored? Will your health begin to deteriorate without the routine that is the working life? This question may take some deep thought, but if you know yourself and can be honest, you will find the right answer.
These are four seemingly simple questions that have very complex and meaningful answers. Thinking hard about these questions before leaving the workforce is key to a successful and happy retirement. Don’t get caught up focusing only on the financial aspect of retirement, the emotional aspect must be addressed in order for you to live the lifestyle you want.