Planning your time: The other retirement imperative

Seniors Laughing TogetherThis week I did three very interesting interviews for a story on “life after retirement,” and the discussion I had with each of these people really resonated with me.

When I asked Mark Singer, a Certified Financial Planner in Lynn, Massachusetts and co-author of “The Six Secrets of a Happy Retirement” if he agreed that the one advantage of retirement is that we have the freedom to make choices about how we are going to spend our time, he responded, “It’s a double-edged sword because if you don’t have something to go to it can be a really bad retirement.”

He gave the example of a friend of his who is age 65 and had no children. He was a financial planner and his wife is an author. As he was heading into retirement, he had nothing to do. So he went back to an old passion, which was his Corvette. “He ended up buying a Corvette and joining the local Corvette Club and now he does all the car shows and spends hours detailing and showing the car and winning awards,” says Singer.

But he says decisions you make about how you spend your time should not be made from the hip. “Do the financial planning first to be sure you can afford to check off the items on your bucket list.”

Also, Singer recommends getting rid of physical and emotional clutter that can hold you back from making clear decisions not only about how you live life today, but the legacy you want to pass on.

Eileen Chadnick, work/life coach and the principal of Big Cheese Coaching believes people need to start putting more “life” into the retirement planning mix because the financial side of retirement planning is really to support life, and how you want to live it.

Chadnick says one of the mistakes people make in this life stage is that they’re working on the old model, i.e. “I’m done. I did it all. It’s time to rest.” “That rest signifies a mindset that’s not really workable for today. It’s an ending to active life,” she says. “People who are really successful in this next stage of life think of it more as a beginning.”

She concludes, “It’s a mindset. Trial and error is ok. And flexibility is very important because there are so many things you can’t really plan for or anticipate.”

For Sharon Basaraba, the Healthy Aging Expert on and a syndicated Longevity Columnist for CBC Radio, the people who really have a problem retiring are those who define themselves very heavily in terms of work. “They go from saying ‘I am this’ to ‘I used to do this’.”

Because a loss of a sense of purpose associated with work is so challenging, she says people really need to acknowledge there is a mental transition. “It may sound boring, but you need to diversify your interests outside work before you retire. That could mean travel, hobbies, continuing education, mentoring or volunteering.”

Basaraba also focuses on the importance of resilience. “People who score better on resilience scales, for example, rate themselves as more successful agers. So they are able to remain more optimistic and enjoy life even in the face of declining health.”








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