For the past 30 – 40 years, you have been defined by your family and your job. Now you are staring directly into the barrel of retirement and probably wondering what the heck you’re going to do once the day finally comes as your job as a parent is waning plus your importance at your job is probably falling off a bit.
Much of the excitement of retiring is the planning. It’s pretty common for folks about to retire to have jobs where they are simply coasting for the last year or two. Psychologically, this is a bit dangerous because you might feel a bit inadequate about your career. Years back you were the head of your department with 14 direct reports and today, you are on a special assignment. Talk about being put out to pasture?!
Therefore, it is common for people about to retire to throw themselves at the retirement process. They jump in and make this a full time quest for the Holy Grail. I have seen it, and not just occasionally either, as many clients I have had the pleasure of working with have found a new sense of being or purpose in their life. Some will even admit that they spend more time per week on their journey then for earning a paycheck.
Researching your retirement is healthy and will reap benefits later down the road however; it’s not all about the journey. What is begging to be asked is what exactly will you do once you retire, find an area you like and purchase/build a home there? One can only play golf, jog and entertain so much, right?
So let’s project what your life will be on that day where you have left your hometown and are living somewhere brand new, ok? You wake up at 6am, make a pot of coffee, get the newspaper off the front porch, let the dog out, fix breakfast and write down a list of groceries for your husband to buy today and wow, it’s already 6:15am! Only 15 hours to go till bedtime!
Ironically, if had a nickel for every time I have heard a new retiree say that they are busier now than they were at work, I’d have enough for someone to finish this article for you. But just exactly what will you be doing? That answer is yours to explore, so here are a few tips on how to see into you crystal ball.
Time Together, Time Apart
If you and your significant other didn’t work together over the past three to four decades, then while you might love each other very much, you both stand a pretty good chance of getting on each other’s nerves spending 24/7 together. So begin thinking about what you want to do, or need to do, on your own. Here are some individual activities:
- Exercise – be it in the gym, jogging, swimming, walking, golfing, etc
- A New Hobby – take some guitar lessons, learn to speak another language, jump into arts and crafts, write that book you’ve always threatened the world with, etc.
- Try a New Sport – take some golf or tennis lessons, go to the beach and surf cast, purchase a Kayak or Canoe, join a walking or hiking club, purchase a new bicycle, etc.
- Read – and not just mystery novels, but go outside your comfort zone and who knows, perhaps you will become a history buff or political junkie?
- Volunteer – join your local Rotary/Lions Club, participate in Relay for Life, lend a hand at your local food pantry, stop in at the hospital periodically, become a tutor, get on the Foundation board in your neighborhood, etc.
Of course there are many activities you can do with your loved one:
- Choose one sport and do it together, such as golf. Many golf communities have a Friday afternoon 9 hole group that is all about having fun and not being serious about your scores. In my community we hold a One Handed Putting contest twice a year. The rules are simple: putter in one hand and glass of wine in the other. This is not a game of skill mind you!
- Travel Groups are quite common in retirement communities. Each year my neighbors plan at least one significant trip such as a European cruise. In addition they plan day trips to Charleston, Charlotte, Raleigh and weekend trips to Asheville, Savannah, Hilton Head and other fun destinations
- Take up a new hobby together such as bird watching or painting
Spending time planning for what you will be doing during your retirement days may very well drive the destination in which you retire. For example, if you both plan to take up hiking, you may want to move closer to the mountains. If one or both of you wish to improve/begin your golf game, it would be wise to find a location close to available golf. If you both wish to teach part time at a local college, well, it’s best to find an area full of academia opportunities.
Retirement is what you make of it. You won’t have a boss, a time card to punch nor set break times. It’s 100% about you, that is unless gentlemen your wife tells you what to do! And keep in mind that your activities could also very well affect your home. A client of mine recently retired and he had a large room next to the garage built for his wood working shop, as he plans to build bird houses and sell them at local craft fairs.
Level of Activity
If you retire at age 62, working out in the morning and playing 18 in the afternoon is pretty easy for most folks. However, accomplishing the same level of activity when you are 75 might be a very different story. Therefore, be sure to think about starting hobbies in your 50s & 60s that you can carry into your 70s and 80s.
Author is Doug Terhune of www.TheRetirementHandbook.com