If you’re thinking about retirement, or you’re already there, WELCOME to a new, exciting chapter in your life. The music of your working life doesn’t stop when you retire, it just opens the door to play and hear different tunes.
There will be less invites and the recognition will begin to dwindle. At the same time, there will be less demands, as well as fewer commitments and obligations. As Sherry Lansing, former head of Paramount Studios, once said, “executives don’t retire…they rewire.”
From a personal perspective as a multi-year retiree, you will probably pass through a pre-retirement phase and then through three stages in your retirement. None lasts for a pre-determined length of time. The length and character of each stage is different for each person.
In the pre-retirement phase, you will begin to think casually about the issues of retirement as you get closer…you will likely start to be a little nervous and uncertain. You will have dozens of thoughts and fears. How will I find enough to do? Do I have enough capital and income? Will I be bored out of my mind?
Understand these thoughts are not uncommon and once you cross the line and start your actual retirement, you will be amazed and echo the sentiments of most retirees—“I don’t have enough time to do all the things I want.”
If you follow my history, you will experience…
The first phase I call the Transition. This is the time you decide how you want to live, where you want to live and what you want to do. You may well have started on this track, but don’t be in a hurry. Take your time and play with different options.
You want to create and write out a bucket list.
Here’s a short list of 30 things to do in retirement. Find the one(s) that fill your bucket.
- Join a church or temple
- Sailing club – always looking for crew
- Sierra Club for hiking
- Form or join a retired luncheon group of peers
- Join a book club
- Travel for adventure, activity, touristy, luxury. Name the places you want to go.
- Take care of yourself; join a gym; get a trainer
- Walk three to four times a week
- Try golf, tennis, paddle tennis, bike riding, skiing
- Do volunteer work – hospital, museum
- Consult for Executive Service Corps (ESC), Small Business Administration (SBA)
- Stay part time or take a new full-time job
- Buy a franchise
- Become a consultant or expert witness in your area of knowledge
- Serve on a non-profit or for-profit board
- Plant a garden of flowers or vegetables
- Write a book or magazine article or poetry
- Take courses at college extensions or senior citizen short courses
- Get involved in community theater as an actor or backstage
- Get involved in political party activities
- Become a wood or metal worker
- Try your hand at art or sculpture
- Attend a cooking school here or abroad
- Go fishing or try photography
- Be a tourist in your own community
- Try your hand at singing in a choir or playing a musical instrument
- Learn more about investing
- Don’t stint on prescription medicines
- Read more non-fiction or fiction
- Spend more time with family
I had a few false starts. I thought about launching a couple of new business ventures, which didn’t materialize. I tried some teaching, but found the effort to deliver some understanding about marketing and entrepreneurship to beginning college students very unfulfilling.
Through a former employee, I fell into about a three-year consulting assignment and started to enjoy more personal travel. At this point, I have almost 80 countries and all seven continents on my passport. I took up golf, which easily made up for all the frustrations I left behind at the office. About the same time I found out about doing consulting projects for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
One problem which I have observed which seems to hold back a number of retirees is their difficulty in letting go of their ego and are not in as much demand any more.
My transition lasted about three years or so and led directly into my Optimum retirement. Life was great. My health was good and offered me the opportunity to exercise, play golf, go on bike trips, and have an active social and travel lifestyle. It was at this point I began referring to myself as a “happy has been.” The only thing I missed was a secretary, but I bit the bullet and found a secretarial service.
The USAID projects took Gabriele and me to Romania, Egypt, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Thailand. The mission was to help third world business people understand and prosper in a free market economy. These four to six-week projects also afforded us the opportunity for extensive travel in that region.
If you aren’t a member of a gym now, join one and get a trainer for at least six months. The trainer will keep you going and give you less excuses to play hooky. Read more, travel for leisure more and find or form a monthly luncheon group of retirees. The conversation is different but helpful.
In the last few years I have entered an unrequested Adjustment stage. Although far from life threatening, a number of health issues have begun to surface. No more USAID projects; I didn’t want to go to Kosovo or Iraq anyway and am cutting back some of our travel, exercise and golf.
Although moving at a somewhat slower pace, all in all, life if still good and very enjoyable.
I still like music…you will too!
Next month we’ll discuss living options and how to calculate finances.