Are you entering the “sunset” years of retirement or a brand-new dawn? Considering you will likely be around for another twenty or thirty years, what does your future look like? The intent of Retires Great is to provide fresh thoughts and perspectives to help you achieve the wonderful retirement you deserve.

The Fundamental Challenge

Society conditions us to believe that retiring is a good thing, almost a reward for a lifetime of hard work. Seldom mentioned is that it is a major life change that most of us will struggle with. The transition from a busy productive lifestyle to “being retired” is not always easy. After the “honeymoon” period wears off, most retirees find something is missing. Perhaps for the first time in their life they have complete freedom of time. No clock to punch and no one to telling them what to do. Interestingly, “What to do” becomes the biggest concern after retiring. It certainly doesn’t help that most of us have a reduced budget limiting all those things we want to do.

Common retirement advice is to save lots and lots of money and invest wisely. That is but one part of the equation. If you’re like me, you probably dreamed of the day when you could do what you want, whenever you want. We believe the greatest challenge in retirement is that in spite of how well you prepare, things are going to be different than you expected. There’s a whole bunch of other stuff that nobody ever told us about. We’re left to more or less figure it out on our own.

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Perhaps you are one of the lucky few that is perfectly happy and everything is going swimmingly. The rest of us will need to make a few tweaks to get things on track. Now is the perfect opportunity to revitalize and even re-invent yourself. You are in charge and after all, you only get “one kick at the can”. Each of us has a best before date and time is a precious resource.

Lots of people become consumed with day-to-day "busyness". The simple task of picking up groceries can become their focal point of their entire day. Staving off the ever-present threat of boredom leads to filling their days with almost meaningless activity. If this is you, consider what would fulfill your life. Questions to ask yourself might include:

  • What is important to me?
  • What makes me happy?
  • How do I want to live the rest of my life?
  • What (if anything) is holding me back?
  • How do I want to be remembered?

Unfortunately, some slip into the darker side of retirement. Studies correlate a higher risk of loneliness, social isolation, and even depression after retiring. Masking the pain can often lead to alcohol and/or drug abuse.

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Retirement is like riding a unicycle. Tricky at first and not easily mastered."

Shannon Henry

If you think of your retirement as riding a unicycle, you probably realize there is more to it than first meets the eye. In addition to transitioning into a new lifestyle, you may want to improve upon certain aspects of your life. Consider that the spokes of the wheel are made up of the things important to you. These might include your relationship with a spouse, children, family, and friends. It likely includes finances, your health, and anything else you deem important. When any of these spokes are deficient, it impacts all aspects of your life. When the wheel is in balance, you’ll be in for a much smoother ride.

Now, maybe you’re not crazy about the unicycle concept. Another way to view things is as overall retirement wellness. The three essential ingredients for a successful retirement are health, wealth, and happiness. Most people associate money with retirement not realizing just how critical health and happiness are to their well-being. Again, there needs to be balance with sufficient amounts in each bucket.

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