“Preparing for the Non-Financial Side of Retirement”
Retirement is something to look forward to. It can be an extremely rewarding period of life when you’re able to give back, build into the next generation, and have some fun along the way. However, for many people, the beginning stages of retirement are actually quite difficult. So much of the work we do with clients is tied to the financial side of their retirement decisions. Certainly, this is a critical area to be well informed about, but I think it is equally important to think about the non-financial aspects of your retirement decision. What will you do with your time in retirement? Where will you find the social interaction that you have been used to getting from work colleagues? What are areas of interest that could provide a sense of utility and accomplishment that your job has been affording you? In this article we explore 4 key areas outside of finances that are important to consider when entering retirement.
How Will You Manage Your Time?
If you’ve been used to working a corporate job for many years, it can be easy to lose sight of how much our mind and bodies craved the time management these jobs provide. Do we complain about the 9-5 while we are in it? Usually. However, our human brains need structure, and shifting into retirement without a plan for how you might break up your days can be a struggle for many people. This article from Kiplinger provides some interesting strategies for managing your time in retirement: https://www.kiplinger.com/retirement/601545/9-tips-for-better-time-management-in-retirement.
Keep in mind that it isn’t always a lack of things to do that leads to a time management problem. Many retirees talk about the fact that they are busier in retirement than they ever were during their working years. It’s just as important to learn what to say “no” to as it is to establish a routine.
Where will you find Social Interaction?
We all have (or had) co-workers that drove us bonkers during our working years, but we tend to forget about the positive friendships and bonds that were created with many others in our career. Going to the office (jumping on a zoom call these days) and have social interaction with people outside of our spouse and children can be a very healthy and needed part of our working lives. Once we enter retirement, it’s important that we consider what social outlets we will have. For married couples, what friends can we interact with separately? Who are others that are also considering retirement that we will ensure we keep up a strong bond with? For singles, what clubs, hobbies, or causes will I get involved with to ensure I’m getting out of the house and having regular social interaction? These are all important areas to at least be aware of as you enter retirement.
What will provide a sense of Utility?
A sense of utility is defined as: “A personal feeling coming from an active participation in a daily life action.” Closely linked with the time management aspect, finding activities or hobbies that allow for active participation and accomplishment in retirement can be critical. Finishing a project, hiring that new manager, or even something as simple as clearing out our email inbox were all ways we found a sense of utility during our working years. What are things we are passionate about that can continue to provide this same sense of utility in retirement? Are there projects around the house we want to complete? Is there a new skill or hobby that we’ve always wanted to pick-up? Don’t underestimate how important it is for our brains to stay active and feel like we are accomplishing things well into retirement.
What will you do for Recognition or Self-Worth?
I find the need for recognition and the self-worth that many derived from their work to be strongly linked to the level or position someone held within their work before retirement. In other words, a high-flying CEO or company founder who is needed and recognized as a leader until the day they retire can really struggle with losing this recognition upon retirement. The desire for recognition doesn’t mean the person is vain and usually is something that has subconsciously developed over years. For some, finding the ability to slowly draw back from a leadership position, or even experimenting with part-time retirement can be a good way to ease into this. Taking a sabbatical or beginning to work 3 days per week in the years leading up to retirement is sometimes helpful in shifting our mindset and becoming comfortable with the change of pace that retirement can bring.
Yes, the financial aspect of retirement and ensuring you have a steady income are important things to consider. However, take some time to think about other aspects of retirement that contribute to our mental and emotional well-being during these years.