By Roberta K. Taylor
What is your vision for retirement? Will you need or want to continue working? What kind of lifestyle are you looking forward to? Planning for retirement can be challenging which is one reason why so many people, particularly couples, avoid important conversations rather than chance potential disagreement or conflict.
Jan and Steve are a prime example. One of their retirement goals was to find ways to spend more time together, but they couldn’t agree on a timetable for retirement. When Steve was offered an early retirement package he took it assuming that Jan would be thrilled. Instead Jan was angry that Steve had not talked with her about his decision. Avoiding conversations can and often does lead to assumptions and conflict.
Amy, a divorced teacher retired after 30 years in the same school system. She was fortunate to leave with health insurance and a pension, benefits few people can count on today. Amy was excited about having time to spend time with friends, take classes and pursue her interest in art. What she didn’t anticipate was feeling isolated and lonely. Many of her friends were still working and it was hard to find people to do things with. Most importantly, Amy missed the sense of purpose and meaning which she had experienced as a teacher.
Thinking ahead and planning can go a long way in helping you create the retirement you want. Financial planning is a major part of the equation, but a fulfilling post-retirement life will not evolve on its own no matter how much money you have. Successfully transitioning to “what’s next” involves good communication, preparation, exploration and planning whether you are single or in a relationship.
How and when do you begin to plan for retirement so that you’re not totally unprepared when the time comes? Retirement isn’t what it used be. Today, advances in medicine and technology — combined with living a healthy lifestyle and a little good luck — mean you can look forward to the possibility of living into your eighties, nineties or even longer. The sooner you start planing, the better. It’s important to begin to ask yourself: What kind of life do I want to be living? Whatever your circumstances, planning is essential because what you’re retiring to can be more important than what you’re retiring from:
1. Understand Your Financial Situation. Start planning your retirement before you get there. Find a financial advisor you can trust; one who will help guide you in decision-making that reflects your needs and goals, now and for the future. One way to find a good financial advisor is to ask for recommendations from people with whom you share similar values.
2. Communication. If you’re married or in a long-term relationship, don’t be afraid to talk about your expectations, hopes and dreams with your partner. If you’re not on the same page, don’t worry. There are resources that can help you work it out.
If you’re single, talk about your plans with family, friends and others whom you trust. Having a sounding board and getting objective feedback can be extremely helpful whether your single or married. Communication is key when you’re in transition.
3. Test the Water. Give yourself time to consider and explore possibilities. Re-asses where you have been and where you want to be in the next chapter of your life. Be curious, be flexible and explore resources that can help you along the way.
4. Stay Healthy. Take care of yourself mind, body and spirit. Holistic health issues are part of retirement planning. A positive attitude goes a long way in being able to enjoy the gifts of your post-retirement years.
5. Be Courageous. Retirement can be an opportunity for re-defining “who” you want to be in the next part of your life. Learn something new, step out of your comfort zone and do something you have always want to do but were afraid to try.
6. It’s a Journey! Remember that transition is a process not an event. Don’t expect things to change over night. It’s about letting go, opening the space for what’s next and inhabiting that space. Welcome the many twists and turns along the way as opportunities for learning and growth.
7. Stay Connected. We all need support especially in times of transition. Being part of a community and having people who understand what you’re going through, can be enormously helpful.
The post-retirement years have the potential for being the best time of your life! Know your values and what’s important to you, plan wisely, and live well. Consider how you might want to “give back” – your legacy. Giving as much as receiving, particularly in the second half of life, can be a gift with many unexpected returns.
About the Author:
Roberta Taylor Board Certified Coach is an experienced individual and group therapist, couple¹s relationship coach, retirement coach and consultant, workshop facilitator, author and speaker. She has a Bachelor of Science degree from the State University of New York and a Master¹s in Developmental Psychology from Rollins College. She received her coach training through the Institute of Life Coach Training.
Roberta is on the Board of the New England Chapter of the National Speakers Association. She is a member of the International Coach Federation, the American Society on Aging, the Life Planning Network, Women Writers International, and Wellesley Women in Business and Lexington Toastmasters.
Roberta co-authored The Couple¹s Retirement Puzzle: 10 Must-Have Conversation for Transitioning to the Second Half of Life with colleague, Dorian Mintzer.