It’s a New Year, so many are looking at their future again, with fresh eyes! As you know, there are many specific steps that financial planners urge their clients to address prior to retirement–final push in contributions to retirement accounts, an honest address of the projected budget, how to optimize taxes and distribution of retirement monies, as well as considerations for health care options and Social Security strategies. There is always little or no emphasis of the steps you might address in the LIFE planning of your next chapter. Here are some steps you can take in the five years before retirement, but these can be addressed and executed any time. The sooner you start thinking of your life path, goals and dreams, the easier and smoother the transition will be!
YEAR 5 –Start with a real conversation –with your spouse, partner, a friend, or someone you know who is retired. Ask questions- about goals, activities, where you want to live, who you want to spend time with, and what might you do over the next 12 months to explore your interests. This works well to carve out individual moments of reflection, maybe over coffee or on a quiet Sunday afternoon once a month, asking What matters to me? How do I want the next chapter to go?
YEAR 4 – Begin incorporating life changes– activities, social life, and interests you are considering on a routine basis. Maybe a hike, a class or time spent researching or immersing in a location you’d like to visit or live. Critical to this time spent are your health related goals. Don’t wait until you retire to address positive habit changes.
YEAR 3 – Hone in on purpose and legacy. Where do you want to make a difference and how can you get some of that in your life and busy schedule, right now? At the same time, think of what you can shed that isn’t serving you anymore. This is a good time to be candid and deep.
YEAR 2 – Envision, specifically, what your days, months and years will look like. Start articulating the daily life and if possible practice it here and there. As a career winds down activities usually hasten the pace of daily life, but there is a huge benefit from having a vision of your days. An example is going to Coffee & Cars on Saturdays–do you like it? Is it what you thought it would be? Is it the social outlet you need or the interest or both? Revisit old hobbies and passions that were meaningful, and explore new activities on a weekly basis.
YEAR 1- Line up your accoutrements with the vision you aspire to–honey-do lists aren’t just for retirement day 1! Make your surroundings facilitate your pursuits. If you don’t want to participate, set up some systems on autopilot for what has to be done, then carve out some flow for yourself.
All is easier said than done–why should I do it now when time is a premium, and in retirement I’ll having nothing but time?? The shift from work life to retirement can be smoothly anticipated or a shock, with loss of benefits like identity, camaraderie, financial remuneration, time management and a sense of purpose. Just as in financial preparation for retirement, life preparation is essential to ensure the best possible transition. The value of “rehearsing the future” is priceless.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!