Financial security is a key component of a happy retirement, but how you choose to spend your daily life throughout retirement is critical as well. Retirement can mean different things to different people. Some look forward to pursuing new interests, while others want time to relax. Whatever your future holds, one thing is certain – a secure retirement requires thought and careful planning, and it’s never too early to start.
As you begin to think about retirement, take the time to consider some important questions.
- What issues, interests and causes are you passionate about?
- Where and how do you want to contribute?
- What will be your legacy?
Retirement can be a time to discover new and creative outlets and passions, and do the things you never had time to do while you were working. On the other hand, you may choose to work full-time, part- time, as a consultant, or on a volunteer basis. Many people work in retirement to keep their benefits, maintain a stream of income, or simply because they enjoy working. Retirement planning is a time to consider all options that will bring you fulfillment.
Many newly retired also embrace the opportunity to return to the classroom, to find new skills or discover new talents. After a time of learning and exploration, some experience a renewed desire to work and pursue new opportunities and challenges. Some start their own business, and others take on an “encore career” – one that makes good use of your well-developed skills and talents, and provides you with the opportunity to apply them in a new setting that has a social impact, or makes a difference. If, for example, you worked in the corporate world, you may want to use your skills in the non-profit world.
You might also consider a learning experience combined with the adventure of travel. One very popular option, Elderhostel ®, offers learning adventures that combine travel with an educational experience for older adults.
When you leave the working world and turn your attention toward family, friends and hobbies, the desire to contribute in a meaningful way becomes a priority. Volunteering is a great way for you to stay involved and make a contribution. The right volunteer experience can provide you with an opportunity to make new friends, gain recognition for your contributions and add more structure to your days.
This new phase of life should be seen as an adventure and a time to reinvent yourself. Planning and transitioning can take time, and involves testing out different pastimes, jobs and projects. Getting support from peers and loved ones in your life will take on a special significance as you begin to sort out all of your choices. The shift to retirement can be a welcome change of pace and yet it can be challenging to create enough structure to find a sense of satisfaction. Take a realistic look ahead and plan carefully to help achieve your retirement goals.
The AARP’s Web site has numerous articles, links, and calculators related to retirement finances, housing, health care, lifestyle, including civic engagement through volunteer opportunities and working in retirement.
Civic Ventures is dedicated to the active engagement of retirees. The Web site is home to several different programs that provide useful information about transitioning into the second half of life. You will find resources on lifelong learning, encore careers, opportunities for community involvement and the organizations that support these initiatives. There are several useful booklets available, including The Boomers’ Guide to Good Work: An introduction to jobs that make a difference.
Elderhostel is a not-for-profit organization offering educationally based travel packages specifically designed for people over 55. You may reach ElderHostel by calling 800-454-5768.
Something to Live For: Finding Your Way in the Second Half of Life
Richard Leider and David Shapiro
Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, July 2008
The Wall Street Journal Complete Retirement Guidebook: How to Plan It, Live It and Enjoy It
Glen Ruffenach and Kelly Greene
Publisher: Three Rivers Press, June 2007