Retirement From or Retirement To?
by Kimberly R. Taylor, IACCP®
Thinking about retirement? If you are like most, your focus is on the ‘retirement from’ aspect. You may be happy and excited about ending your 9-5 workday world. The daily commute, travel, responsibilities and pressures are something you are excited to end. For some, work has been very fulfilling and enjoyable. There is a bittersweet sense as you think about finishing your career. Then there are those who wouldn’t retire if you paid them – but they tend to be the rarity. Retiring from your career takes planning which should begin years or (hopefully) decades ahead of time. With people living well into their 80s and 90s, there are many years to consider following retirement. That is where the ‘Retirement to’ question comes in.
Planning for your ‘Retirement to’ is about the consideration of ‘what next?’ It is planning for how you will spend your time. There are some who recommend taking a year off without committing to anything new. “Give yourself time to find your new routine and to better discover your passions and desires.” This can be good advice if you are comfortable with spontaneity and waiting. After all, you have had to conform to a structured routine for decades. But that is just the point. After so many years of structure and routine, it can be hard to go it on your own and for some, planning ahead may be the answer.
Statistics indicate those retiring now will have two to three decades ahead of them. This can be overwhelming to consider especially for those readers who know themselves to be doers. Investopedia relates six stages in retirement: Planning, Retirement Day, Honeymoon Phase, Disenchantment, Reorientation, Routine. The first three stages: Planning, Retirement Day, Honeymoon Phase, are self-explanatory. The last three however: Disenchantment, Reorientation, and Routine – what exactly are those about?
Disenchantment is the stage when the old routine is gone but a new routine has not yet taken its place. Even with good planning, the reality of no more paychecks is hard to embrace as expenses will continue. You may find yourself worrying about money even if you have worked hard to structure a sound financial retirement plan. Time can be an unexpected issue as some friends and family will still be working, so all those plans may not work out very well if those you wish to include are limited in their availability. You might even find yourself bored with all the time on your hands, strange as it may sound now. This is really the most challenging stage as it typically is unexpected and more emotional than anticipated.
Thankfully, if you are open and honest about your feelings during the disenchantment stage, reorientation arrives very soon. Think of this phase as the reset period. Your new routine is getting more familiar and even comfortable. The lack of routine feels welcoming and not so intimidating or empty. You may even surprise yourself with the courage to try those things you wanted to when you began work but perhaps they did not provide the income you required. Some people take on part-time work at a place of interest for the discounts or privileges associated such as working at a golf course or volunteering at an art museum. Perhaps a passion of yours is to go on a mission trip or be available to support disaster recovery relief efforts when they occur. Reorientation can be fun and exciting as your confidence in your new lifestyle increases.
Finally there is the last stage – routine, which sounds like we are back at the start, but not really. In this stage you are the author. The truth is we are creatures of habit and having a routine does provide familiarity and structure even to the lover of spontaneity. Really this is more about being comfortable in your new lifestyle skin, so to say. This can also be a time when others recognize and respect your availability and have become cheerleaders of your new lifestyle and freedom.
So as you consider retirement it is important that you take the time to plan your ‘retirement from’ and your ‘retirement to’. Consider creating a visual display of those things you want to do, to see, places you want to visit, and new experiences you’ve always wanted to try. Put this display somewhere that you see regularly to help inspire you. Speak with your relationship manager to create a plan toward financial security in your retirement to help alleviate the stress and worry that unpreparedness may cause. Be sure to also plan for the support and encouragement needs you will have during the transition between ‘retirement from’ and ‘retirement to’ by talking about your plans with your spouse, your family and your friends. Retirement can be a wonderful season filled with opportunities and possibilities. Let us know how we can help you make the most of yours.
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