There’s no shortage of advice out there for would-be (or soon-to-be or wannabe) retirees; from how you should be investing and saving to what you should be doing with your house, the media is full of retirement tips. The difficult part is sorting through all the financial figures and well-intentioned opinions to figure out a retirement plan that works for you. We’ve boiled it all down to five things you should know before you retire:
Many people think that retiring on your career means an end to all that planning, goal-making and strategic thinking that dominates the workplace, but nothing could be further from the truth. Successful retirees are the ones who write down goals — both short and long-term — and make plans to achieve them. Whether you’re more interested in financial goals, travel goals, property goals or health goals, just make sure you’re aiming towards something. Otherwise you may end up feeling lost.
You’ll probably live longer than you think
Retirement can feel like an ending, as if it’s the last major step you’ll take in your life, but with life expectancy constantly on the rise, it’s really more of a fresh start for most retirees. Here’s the tricky part: if you want to enjoy this new beginning to the fullest, you need to set yourself up to do so. This means not only looking after your finances by planning for many years of living off retirement income (more years than you think, according to the Washington Post), it also means looking after your body with proper diet and exercise so you have the strength and the energy to take on all these new adventures. It’s never too early to focus on your health — you’ll be so thankful for it later.
Your professional life is not over
You may not be pulling nine-to-fives at the office anymore, but that doesn’t mean your life as an accountant/teacher/doctor/whatever needs to come to a close. You have an incredible wealth of experience under your belt so put it to good use! Retirement is the time when you can really use your skills in the way that you want — for instance, you could become a mentor to a young student or professional, you could volunteer at a school or you could join a board. Rather leave your job in the past? No problem — you still have options. Take classes to pursue that hobby or interest you’ve always wished you had taken up, or look into low-stress part-time jobs for retirees in your area. Working even a few hours a week will help you build a new community and give you a bit of direction — not to mention a bit of welcomed pocket change.
Life will change in unexpected ways
Although you’re already preparing for some of the massive changes retirement will bring to your life, you may be surprised by some of the smaller ways it will change. For instance, according to RetireHappy.ca, many retirees are disappointed to find that despite rock solid relationships with their co-workers during their working life, many friendships drop off after retirement. Not working can be lonely, and that’s why it’s important to make an effort to maintain these relationships once you’re no longer clocking in at the office. Set up a regular lunch date or organize a non-office social group such as a book club to maintain your ties with colleagues. It’s also a good idea to go out of your way to meet other retirees and join groups – it’s important to establish a community of folks that share your interests. As retirement expert Paul Merriman told the Globe and Mail, “the quality of your life is shaped by the quality of the people in your life.”
From the outside, it seems like enjoying retirement should be a given, but unfortunately, many retirees spend far too much time worrying about what they’ll do and how they’ll support themselves. Just stop! While it’s important to make smart financial decisions when it comes to retirement, this time in your life is about more than facts and figures. Make sure you’re taking time every day to smell the roses, appreciate some down time, take part in an activity you enjoy, and spend time with a cherished friend or loved one. This article from Forbes has some great tips on focusing on what’s important.