Ease into retirement mindset

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:32 pm

Nationwide, about 77 million baby boomers – those born between 1946 and 1964 – are approaching retirement age. If you’re one of them, you need to be emotionally as well as financially ready for this upcoming transition.
There are some important questions to consider: What’s your image of retirement? What will you do when you actually retire? How will you balance your dreams and goals with family and societal responsibilities? What finances will you have to live on? Does your past pattern of dealing with change provide you with a good model for entering retirement? How can that next step in your life be truly revitalizing?
It’s true that today’s retirement scene is not that of your father’s. The typical "boomer" today expects to quit his or her job at age 66, up from age 64 as reported in 1998. Eighty percent plan to do some type of work. And 63 percent plan to work at least part-time in retirement. About 5 percent say they will never retire.
An American Association of Retired People (AARP) study last year that found 53 percent of pre-retirees believed retirement included working for enjoyment, not money. But 42 percent reported they would need to do some kind of work to in order to pay their bills.
Retirement involves transitioning from one lifestyle to another. It’s an opportunity open up a new world. Staying active–mentally and physically–is key to a successful retirement, but some people will retire and be at a loss for what to do. Some, however, will go back to their old companies as consultants. Others will take part-time jobs. Some will do consulting work for a variety of clients, while others will do volunteer work.
Disengagement is another critical emotional issue in retirement. How do you separate from your work identity? There’s a rule of thumb that the more identity you’ve gained from your employment, the harder it is to break away from it. That’s a lifestyle issue. Part of it is how you feel about the work you did and the proportion of your life that it consumed. That’s one factor that will determine the ease of your transition into retirement.
It’s obviously important to plan for retirement, but an American Savings Education Council (ASEC) study shows that 51 percent of all adult workers spend less than four hours per year planning for retirement. A few progressive corporations around the country are helping their older employees with this type of planning. Hopefully, more will provide this service as part of their human resources function.
Getting financial advice to assist your retirement planning is important.
You’ll need discretionary income to enhance your retirement lifestyle. If you don’t have enough, then you’ll probably continue to work. However, if you do have adequate finances, you’ll still need to do some serious lifestyle planning to decide what you want to do. Armed with this advice, you’re better able to develop a strategy.
Look at your objectives and your philosophy of life. Many people who have over-focused their life on work and earning money have a big problem on retiring. If they haven’t developed many outside interests, they often find a void after actually retiring.
That’s why the process of retirement should begin when you reach age 50, not at retirement age. The 50s has been called the ‘Decade of Decision.’ That’s when people usually reach the pinnacle of their careers and begin seeing changes in their lives, such as grown children moving out on their own. It’s also a time of personal reflection about future life priorities. That’s when pre-retirees should look at re-balancing their lives. That planning process should carry through until they retire. They need a good five to ten years to start making lifestyle adjustments.
There are many elements of interpersonal communication between spouses that are also vital in planning for a successful and happy retirement. Spouses need to explore their relationship with each other. They need to know what dynamics will come into play if one retires and spends much more time at home. They need to know how they will enhance their individual growth and activity patterns. They need to clarify what they do have in common.
Retirement is a personal thing, and a lot of it carries over from the work one did during that person’s work life and the satisfaction gained from that work.
A retired person needs to be productive and involved in more than just one activity. You can’t play golf year-round. If you have a need to give back to your community, then go out and do volunteer work. Combine recreational activities with growth activities. Schools and universities allow senior citizens to audit classes for free or for nominal cost.
In retirement planning, you really have to step back and look at what you enjoy doing and then pursue it intelligently.
Charles Hays is principal of Retirement Directions, a lifestyle planning and coaching organization at 5744 N. Bel Aire Drive, Glendale. He’s a longtime Milwaukee business executive who has broad experience in human resources management, career transition consulting, and retirement coaching. He can be reached at (414) 228-7722.
November 26, 2004, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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Andrew is the editor of BizTimes Milwaukee. He joined BizTimes in 2003, serving as managing editor and real estate reporter for 11 years. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, he is a lifelong resident of the state. He lives in Muskego with his wife, Seng, their son, Zach, and their dog, Hokey. He is an avid sports fan and is a member of the Muskego Athletic Association board of directors.

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