Is retirement really the best years of your life?

Certainly the Freedom 55 advertising campaign by London Life has changed the way our society views retirement. Certainly, the traditional retirement was mandatory retirement at age 65. Today, people want to retire earlier and earlier. Why? For some because they hate their job and can’t wait until they attain some level of financial comfort. Others picture the life of leisure that the Freedom 55 ads depicted and for others it might be a symbol of status that one retires early once if they have achieved a certain level of financial success.

Is retirement all that it is cracked up to be?

According to a recent study 43% of Americans felt that retirement was a difficult adjustment. Another research study determined that 20% of retirees have so much difficulty transitioning to retirement that it leads to depression. One final study showed that 40% of those that retired at age 55 or younger, went back to work in some way shape or form. Some of these people went back because they had to for financial reasons. However, for some it is a matter of going back to work because they want to.

What does it take to make retirement the best years of your life?

  1. Start with a vision. Have you ever tried to put together a jigsaw puzzle without the picture on the box? There is no question that the puzzle will be infinitely easier to do if you have some sense of what it is supposed to look like in the finished state. Retirement planning is similar because it requires some sense of what you want from retirement. What are you going to do with your time? What activities would you like to do?
  2. Planning Financially. Obviously, one of the most straightforward answers to the question is to be prepared by having enough money. The next most logical question is how much is enough? The answer is really dependent on how much you need and what your retirement is going to look like. I’ve often said that a successful retirement is not just about how much money you have saved but rather a combination of what you have saved versus how much you need.
  3. Planning Activities. Although retirement and money go hand in hand, planning activities is probably more important. What are you going to do with your time will often dictate how much money you need? Far too often people get this mixed up because they focus on the financial side first when it is understanding what you want to do with your time that determines how much money you need.Many will know that you don’t always need a lot of money to live a happy retirement. For example, Alice was busier in retirement than she was prior to retirement. She filled her time with activities, hobbies and even some part time work that she found rewarding. It is a time to do things that they did not have time to do prior to retirement.Some people retire with lots of money only to find disappointment in retirement. For example Joe was a workaholic because he loved his work. When he retired, he found himself missing the routines. He did not have a guiding purpose to get up in the morning. He missed his friends at work.Ultimate success occurs when retirees find that perfect balance where they are able to use their time effectively but also have sufficient money to sustain their lifestyle. The coordination of time and money is the ultimate goal.
  4. Attitude. Study after study has shown that attitude affects every facet of your life. Attitude is recognized as an essential ingredient in becoming a winner in any field. As a result, it contributes to satisfaction and happiness. When it comes to retirement, this is no different. Those with positive constructive attitudes are more likely to have a better retirement. Part of this attitude is having a willingness to change. Those who look to retirement with an open mind, constructive thinking and confidence are more likely to think of it as the best years of their lives. If you start with the attitude that you are not going to enjoy retirement, then you probably won’t.

The reality is that retirement is going to be different than the life you had while you were working. For some it is better and for others it will not. There are three essential ingredients to making your retirement successful and happy. Start with a vision of the future and set some goals. Add in some plans for activities and how you are going to utilize your time in retirement. Make sure to put in the right amount of money and make sure it is the right proportion compared to the activities and lifestyle you want. Finally, add a dash of good attitude and constructive thinking and you have the sure fire recipe to making retirement the best you can.

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