BY JEAN MARIE JOHNSON
One way or another, you get there. Whether you’ve:
- waited for this “promised land” for your entire working career
- found yourself downsized forever, or
- been weaned from work little by little
Eventually, you find yourself RETIRED. The word itself is inherently strange to me. It sounds like the “ON” switch is suddenly and definitively turned to “OFF,” lights out. The lives of today’s “retirees” strongly suggest otherwise! For some, “retirement” is more active, vibrant,
energized, and more fulfilling than the working life they left behind.
But it’s no abracadabra. It takes a measure of thoughtful planning that goes way beyond determining how much money you’ll have and how much you’ll need. Here are three suggestions to get you started:
First, Be bold and make the decision that you are the CEO of your retirement. Yeah, you. You may welcome this idea or find it a little overwhelming. Think of it this way: You are now at a point in your life journey where you get to decide exactly how you want to write the next chapter. You have a ton of skills you’ve developed along the way, experiences to tap into, and, yes, a seat at the head of the table, so go for it. Start by embracing the idea that you are in charge because if not now, then when?
Next, Create your tribe of guides and supporters to “sit at the table” with you. Now, if you’ve been a CEO, worked closely with one, or know anyone with that hefty title, you are well aware that they don’t go it alone. They’re smart and savvy in terms of tapping into the knowledge, expertise, and wisdom of others. Here’s where your current network of professionals, co-workers, neighbors, and friends can help. So can those networking skills you’ve developed throughout your career. People know things that you don’t. They have experience that can create shortcuts to the information you need. A wise CEO taps into all of this and then makes her own informed decisions and choices. That wise CEO is you!
Planning for your retirement is a process that requires asking questions and gathering information that will help you to create a retirement that works best for you. Start with the foundational pieces such as your finances, your health, and your legal matters. You may find it extremely beneficial to work with a financial advisor to help you create a retirement budget, determine when to start collecting social security and explore if turning a hobby or skill into a small revenue stream might be part of your plan.
Health is another area that you’ll want to take a fresh look at. You may want to talk with your primary care physician about your plans for retirement and explore how to get yourself in the best shape for the next chapter in your life. As for me, a Peloton may be part of my retirement “health plan”! Finally, get with your attorney to ensure that your key documents, such as your will, powers of attorney, and living will are in order.
Which, of course, leads me to my third suggestion: Once and for all, trust yourself to decide rightly for you. Your “golden years” are about three things: survival, happiness, and fulfillment. The difference now is that you have many years and experiences under your belt from which to draw. You know yourself better now than you did at 21 or 45, right? Meaning that you are in the best place to manage your resources, make choices that bring you happiness, and pursue activities that give this stage in your journey meaning and purpose. I’m sending kudos out to all of my retired friends who are living a “successful” retirement by planning and trusting themselves in the process. You are my inspiration!
Stay tuned for Part Two of this series, “Retirement: Seek Happiness and Fulfillment.”