It’s a question I often ask to see where someone is on their retirement planning path. A recent client seemed a little taken aback and wondered why she had to figure that out now. “Isn’t that what retirement is for?”
The answer to that question is yes and no.
Most of us are too busy with our everyday lives to think about what we’ll be doing beyond next week, let alone until the day we die. And with increasing human longevity, that day could easily be more than 30 years after we leave the workforce.
When you think you could have over 10,000 days to fill, how you do that becomes a pretty important question.
The structure that work provides in our lives shouldn’t be underestimated. Knowing we have some place to be, a reason to be there, people to talk to, and tasks to fill our days fulfills many of our basic human needs. If you haven’t planned for how you will spend those eight, 10 or 12 hours formerly taken up by your work each day, you’re likely to start drifting. You might find ways to fill your time, e.g. social media or watching TV, cyber-loafing, window shopping or just puttering around the house, but you won’t really accomplish anything.
And that may be just what you need when you retire. At first. If you’re in a particularly stressful job or field of work, some downtime when you retire may be in order. But without some structure, those days can become weeks, weeks become months and before you know it, a whole year will have passed and you won’t feel like you have much to show for it. Activity without purpose eventually causes boredom and malaise.
We crave meaning in our lives and purpose for our actions. Without it we can become lost. In fact, a significant proportion (up to 41% in one multi-country study) of retirees who did not have a well-developed plan for their life ended up unhappy, and even clinically depressed within two years after they retire.
Activity without purpose eventually causes boredom and malaise.
Taking some time to focus on what you will be doing after you retire, before you actually leave the workforce, will help you begin your retirement on the right foot. Start with some simple questions:
- What might an ideal day in retirement look like?
- What kinds of activities can you do that will:
- Stimulate your mind?
- Exercise your body?
- Feed your spirit?
- Who will you do them with?
- How can you incorporate some structure in each day to ensure an ongoing sense of well-being?
You will have time to review and explore different types of activities once you are retired, but having a plan on where you want to focus first will ensure you transition with much greater ease.
We offer a variety of coaching programs and workshops for individuals, couples and groups to help you assess your readiness to retire and how you can create a smooth transition from the workforce or enhance your current retirement lifestyle.