Nothing remains in its original condition forever.
Your new roof is only good for about 20 years, and your car only has a couple hundred thousand miles if you’re lucky. If you don’t take care of your health, it can easily slip away. When you forget to work on your relationship, you won’t feel the “new love” glow. Your skin, once untouched from wrinkles, will one day leave the mark of your laughs and smiles.
Something you can do to keep the important things in your life working longer is maintaining them. Ongoing maintenance takes a lot of thought, care, and work, but it’s absolutely worth the effort!
Like regularly tending your garden yields better produce, making a concerted effort to maintain your ideal retirement lifestyle will keep you from slipping into complacency.
A true comprehensive retirement plan takes work to maintain, but it will result in a fuller, richer experience. How can you maintain your ideal retirement life?
Work At Constructing Your Ideal Retirement
Society frames retirement as a natural progression of life. But when you think about it, the traditional idea of retirement foregoes every habit you were taught to get there—hard work, self-sacrifice, saving vs. spending, etc.
You can’t just get to retirement, flip a switch and expect the whole room to fill with light. Without a plan, retirement is like an intense fixer-upper, where you’re far over your head, not like a turnkey new build you can simply step into and start living.
Planning for your retirement lifestyle should take just as much thought, care, and work, as preparing for your financial wellbeing. One tool to help you gauge your readiness for retirement is to score yourself on the twelve pillars of a successful retirement plan via a Retirement Transition Wheel.
In this exercise, you’ll honestly and without judgment walk through and score yourself in the following areas:
- Sense of new identity and purpose
- Physical health
- Mental/Emotional health
- Social networks/friendships
- Leisure plans
- Spiritual life and community
- Marriage/significant other
- Home location
- Part-time work
- Financial security
- Attitude about aging
Remember, in this exercise you want to score your satisfaction in that area. So, if you have an amazing social network, you’d likely be pretty satisfied. But if you’re really uncomfortable with the idea of aging, perhaps that score will be a bit lower.
Take a look at the scores you gave yourself in each category and ask,
- Where can I intentionally improve?
- Am I excited about how my retirement plan is coming together?
- In what areas am I proud to be excelling?
If you’re in a relationship, be sure to complete your wheels separately, so the other person doesn’t influence you. Doing so will lead to more open and honest communication when comparing one another’s answers.
Building A Retirement Wellness Plan
You’ve spent all this time creating an incredible retirement lifestyle plan that will leave you fulfilled and joyful. But how can you maintain it?
Sometimes all it takes is a little love and a whole lot of accountability. Today, we will walk you through an incredible exercise in our retirement coaching program that will teach you how to ease yourself into your golden years.
Your retirement wellness plan result is a one-page document you can always reference as you’re building your new life as a retiree. Let’s dive in!
Write A Retirement Bumper Sticker
Do you have a bumper sticker on your car? What does it say about you? Why are you excited to share that value/trait with the world?
Your bumper sticker can reveal a lot of information about you, and it’s a fun way to present your hobbies to others. Why not do the same for retirement?
A retirement bumper sticker is a short slogan or mantra that demonstrates how you feel about this next phase of life. It can be something that sets the tone for this incredible step and get you excited about what’s to come. Let your bumper sticker signify your new thoughts and feelings about the transition.
Stuck for ideas?
Here are a few to consider:
- Inspired Not Retired (our favorite)
- The Best Chapter
- Let Freedom Ring
- Adventure Awaits
- A New Story
- A Second Chance
Those ideas were just a springboard to get you started. Your bumper sticker should be personal to you. Perhaps you’ll include a lyric from your favorite song, a beautiful stanza of poetry, or an inspirational religious verse.
Verbalize Your Core Beliefs About Retirement
Once you have a mantra that makes you want to sing it from the mountaintops, the next step is to think about your core beliefs about retirement. This exercise asks you to go a bit deeper and reveal your hopes and dreams for the transition.
Before you write them down, ask yourself,
- What does retirement genuinely mean to you?
- What are you hoping to get out of this stage in life?
- Is there anything you would compare the transition to?
- How do you “talk” about retirement?
As you’re brainstorming ideas, imagine you’re giving a presentation about retirement at a conference. After you sort all the thoughts in your head, turn them into your core, driving beliefs about what’s to come. Here’s an example.
- Retirement is like opening a small business. There’s so much work behind the scenes before the “open” sign can go up, like building a business plan, securing financing, refining your service/product, hiring talented people, etc. Once you reach opening day, nervous butterflies invade your stomach but so does something else: hope, the hope of pursuing a dream and building a legacy. It’s a beautiful journey to behold.
- Retirement is an invitation to continue the extraordinary story you’ve written so far. It’s a time for inspiration, and while you may not have every word perfectly in place, you do have a clear direction to carry you forward.
- You want to find a renewed sense of purpose, joy, and fulfillment in retirement. Now you have the time to dedicate yourself to the things that matter most, and you’re excited to start aligning your time with your values.
Let your core beliefs come from your heart. They can be pivotal tools as you move through the various stages of retirement.
Plan For Complex Conversations
You can’t plan for your ideal retirement lifestyle in a vacuum—you need context. As you know, your life and actions impact far more than just you. There are so many people that you may want to discuss your retirement plans with, like a spouse, adult children, friends, employer, etc.
While these conversations may change in the future, think through what you’d like to talk about now, who you want to discuss with, and your timeframe for doing so. Being as detailed as possible will help you stay accountable. Let’s look at an example.
Conversation 1: Let your employer know your retirement timeline.
You’ll want to have this conversation with your manager or boss, and it’s often best to address this topic sooner rather than later. If you know you want to retire in the next six months, go ahead and set up a time to speak with your boss about your plans. You may also know that you want to reduce your hours to part-time or do some consulting before walking away for good. Let them know and see if you can come to an arrangement that works for both of you.
Conversation 2: Discuss retirement expectations with your spouse
Retirement planning for married couples is so important, especially when it comes to how you both want to spend your time. How much time do you want to spend together versus apart? What activities are essential that you do together or independently? How will you divvy up household chores and responsibilities? You’ll have to re-learn how to live together in this new capacity and set intentional boundaries that help your relationship grow.
Conversation 3: Talk through your estate plan with your adult children
Estate planning isn’t an easy conversation, but it’s better to discuss your plans now than wait. Who is your executor? What are your wishes? Where is everything stored? Let your children know the plan so they can execute it properly without arguments (hopefully).
Remember, these are just examples. Your conversations may look completely different depending on your goals and priorities.
Make An Action Plan
You’ve spent so much valuable time “talking the talk.” Now, it’s time to “walk the walk” and put your unique ideas into action.
Here’s an excellent place to start!
- What are you most curious and passionate about? Pick one thing to take to the next level. Maybe that means you sign up for a writer’s group, join the local country club, sign up for dance classes with your spouse, etc.
- Do you have any questions about your financial well-being in retirement? While money isn’t the focus of this exercise, it shouldn’t be absent either. You might be wondering if you’re working with the right financial team, if you have enough money to support this dream life you’re building, or how to create a cash flow plan that works for you. Get some answers to your questions! Talk with your financial team about their mission, values, operations, etc. Look at the numbers and see how much you want to spend per month. Work with your financial advisor to be thoughtful about your spending.
- What concerns or opportunities do you see with your physical and mental health heading into retirement? Maybe you know you want to live a more balanced and healthy lifestyle. To do that, you’ll prioritize getting intentional movement every day, eating a balanced diet, and spending time to meditate and recharge. Your physical and mental health are fundamental for a long, happy retirement.
Now, it’s your turn! Take a look at your answers to the questions above and make a list of a few things you want to accomplish in the next week. Maybe you’ll call an old friend, sign up for a gym membership, or enroll in a summer class. No matter what, be sure you’re actively taking steps toward bringing your retirement to life.
Not Retired Yet? Test Drive Your Plan
You may think you know exactly what you want to do in retirement, but have you tried it out yet?
We’re big fans of test-driving your retirement lifestyle before committing to it. This trial period can help you get a taste of what your life would really be like and help you make intentional adjustments along the way.
As the saying goes, you never know until you try! If you’re not retired or just on the cusp, take the ideas above as an opportunity to test out what retirement would look like. While you may think you wanted to work part-time at a bakery, you could realize you’re not a morning person and hate the smell of yeast—good thing you found out now!
No matter where you are on your retirement journey, our team at TFS would love to help. We find joy and fulfillment in helping people use their money to better their lives. Money is a tool that can help you live a life you love, and we want to show you how.
Schedule a call with us to learn more!