We shut the shades and refuse the sun. We turn on the TV. We channel surf. We could hardly speak.

RetirementMy husband Ed’s company had sold a few weeks before, and he is now…relieved of his duties. The scramble to market and sell his company had been a months long, round-the-clock process. For Ed and a stellar team of managers. The transition to the new owners is complete. Exhaustion sets in. Now it is over. We stare at the screen. Just us two. Nearly catatonic.

What comes next?

We had been so focused on the sale, we had not prepared personally for whatever came next. Is it really retirement? Is this really what retirement looks like? Channel surfing? Shoot me now!

Within a few weeks, a former colleague from Denver calls. Ed’s resolve to retire crumbles! He flunks retirement. We move. We kick the retirement can down the road.

The REAL problem with retirement planning

Stephen Covey says to “begin with the end in mind,” so let’s start with retirement. Why? Because it’s harder than it looks. If I’m telling the truth, Ed flunked retirement, not just once, but twice! Turns out, he’s not very good at retirement.

“Why do you think it’s so hard?” I’m glad you asked!

There are financial plans and planners who can help you with your financial “retirement plan.” My brilliant husband sought one out long before he knew me and I am the beneficiary of their combined wisdom. Once you put your plan in place, your money is supposed to grow in value over the years till you are able to retire. If you need ideas to get the financial basics in place, we still follow Money Magazine’s Ultimate Guide to Retirement. and Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.

The REAL issue is more personal than financial. What does your personal retirement plan look like? Are you going to sit down and channel surf? Or do you have a real plan for what life-after-work looks like? What, and who, will you fill your days with? Where will you live? This is where we failed (remember, twice?).

Ponder these FOUR pitfalls before you retire
  1. Identity Change. Who are you if you don’t get up and go to work every day? Once you are off the hamster wheel, what then?
  2. Expertise. If you retire at the height of your career, will you waste all your expertise from now on? Where will you be able to use it? How will you stay sharp?
  3. Lack of preparation. Have you established goals for life after retirement? How much ‘neutral time’ will you give yourself to adjust, before you embark on a new, personal adventure?
  4. Values that don’t match. Are you and your spouse committed to the same people and perspectives? Can you find enough overlap to share? Will more time together be a blessing? or a curse? Marriages are often stressed with the sudden close proximity of retirement. A good resource to prepare your marriage for retirement is found in this article from Huffington Post.
If we address these pitfalls before retirement, the familiar rhythms of work won’t call us like a siren’s song.
Put these FIVE P’s in place before you retire.
Physical Activity – an active sport or activity that keeps you moving
Past time – a hobby to help you create something beautiful or useful
Place – a place to volunteer or contribute time, energy (and perhaps money)
Project – an immediate project to keep you busy (i.e., de-clutter that home office to make room for new ideas!)
Person – a same gender buddy, someone other than your spouse with whom to enjoy life
Why five? In a word, attrition. Not all of these tools work for every person. You may start with all these, then drop one or two because they are simply not fulfilling. Others may lead to a newly-found passion that leaves little time for anything else!  Did you notice none of the tools requires a screen? There will be plenty of time for that…later.
May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. Psalm 20:4
Ed has now been retired for over a year. We don’t have it down perfect. Some days, we don’t have it down well at all! But we have the tools to make it work better.
 
Are you retired? Looking forward to retirement? Dreading retirement? Do you have a plan for retirement? Could you think of another retirement tool to share below?

 

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