I have a secret that I would love to keep from my employers. The secret is that I’ve been planning my retirement since my very first paycheck. I was so jazzed about being able to finally save money that I quickly became hooked on watching my retirement grow. It wasn’t long before I realized that it literally would take decades to have enough money to retire and that was a little discouraging. I also realized that once I become a member of the AARP, I may become one of those old dogs that can’t learn new tricks.
One of the saddest statements I hear is when people say “I don’t want to retire, I would go out of my mind with that much time on my hands.” Gosh, the sheer thought of not wanting time, the most precious of all things is a very sad thing indeed.
The other thing I hear a lot is, “when I retire, I’m going to travel or volunteer or what not”. What makes a person think that if they couldn’t budget their time and money to travel for the first 65 years of their lives, that now suddenly they will have wanderlust and financial prowess to do it in their golden years?
Live Your Retirement Dream Now
My current retirement plan is not unlike my mom’s. I have a number of hobbies and activities that I enjoy doing and once I no longer have to work, the time allocation between work and hobbies just changes. For me, I don’t anticipate a big long transition period.
In addition to saving, I believe it’s just as important to start planning how you want your time to be spent during retirement and start doing those things in small doses now. I liken it to saving a portion of your income. Invest 10% of your time into your future retired self. If you think you want to travel or volunteer when you retire, then do a little now and make sure you get the hang of it first.
Just think, it might be a lot scarier taking a trip to a 3rd world country when you’re hobbling onto the airplane with your walker and oxygen tank. If you’re already a seasoned traveller, then the physical limitations that come with aging won’t be as big a barrier because you already know what to expect from a long journey. Or the complete opposite could happen, you may realize that you hate the hassle of going on long trips. One trip may be all it takes to realize your goal was completely out of character and you need to substitute something else in it’s place. By exploring and learning some of that now, you are saving precious time during retirement.
Invest in Keeping Relationships Alive
I’m very happy to say that I have friends all over the world and I do spend time reaching out to them on a periodic basis. Some of us go out of our way to visit people if we happen to be within 200 miles of each other. Although it’s not practical to visit everyone you’ve ever spent time with, it is possible to send the occasional email or keep tabs on folks via facebook.
I absolutely plan on spending more time with friends and family during retirement and when that time comes I still want those relationships to be alive and kicking. There are some people who you can talk to once every 5 years and you can just pick the relationship up where it left off. Those people are great.
Spend a little time keeping your relationships thriving. For me, it’s been tough juggling it all and it’s easy for this one to fall to the curb. Luckily I have great friends who do plan things on a regular basis so I make every effort to participate in events when they are in town. Likewise if I’m on vacation or a business trip, I go out of my way to visit people if I’m travelling in a particular region where I have old friends.
If you really want to prepare for the social part of retirement take a hard look at those 72 hours/week that you’re not working or sleeping. Is that how you want to spend your retired days? If it is, then you’re well on your way to a happy retirement. If the answer is no, then I think you may have some issues. I’m all for temporarily working my butt off to get to certain milestones but I think it’s dangerous to make work your life. If it is every taken away from you, you will also lose a good portion of your identity in the process. Scary Stuff.
Good Luck and I hope this gives you some food for thought. Are you living your retirement dream (even if it’s in small doses)? What investments in your retired self are you making now? Is it learning to cook, garden, write, guitar lessons, serving as a volunteer? I’d love to know.