Facing Down The Retirement Passage

Assuming you and your job made it through the pandemic unscathed–or maybe only mildly touched–and you are now in your 60s or 70s, you might be starting to think about that life passage known as “retirement.”

Retirement is more than an event; it’s a process. If you have been working steadily at a job, on a daily basis, five days a week, 52 weeks per year (hopefully, minus a vacation or two), retirement will unsettle you in ways you may not expect. It can also open up doors that have the potential to delight you and lead you to places you never dreamed you’d go. The only requirement is that you let go of your past life and embrace the new one with gusto. A big shift is coming; best to be as prepared for it as possible.

First…visit a financial advisor and find out whether you have enough money to cross the finish line. If not, come up with a next act that will put more money in the bank for your full retirement. Retirement jobs are all the rage now. You could go back to what you know or take up something entirely different.

One of the most difficult pieces of the puzzle might be your emotional response to stopping the contributions to a retirement account and starting the withdrawals. Your financial advisor can probably help you get through it without a nervous breakdown.

Remember…this isn’t the end. You can reinvent yourself at any age. Many well-known books were written by people in their 80s and 90s; Gladys Burrell ran her first marathon, in Honolulu, at age 86; Colonel Sanders founded KFC when he was 65; Clara Peller was 81 when she was “discovered” by an ad agency and made her first “where’s the beef?” commercial for Wendy’s; Alexander Fleming received the Nobel prize for discovering penicillin when he was 64.

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Don’t assume you are embarking on complete retirement, remember that life after retirement is a river to be navigated and very few people are prepared for the rapids they will encounter in those first few years. You might consider engaging a retirement coach. In case that is a new concept for you, you wouldn’t be alone. Retirement coaching is a relatively new field and it has taken off quite rapidly in the last 10 years as the baby boomers have faced this life passage. Coaches who specialize in retirement now have their own professional society, the Retirement Coaches Association, which is also a good place to start your search for a coach.

You might also want to consider a phased approach to retirement, especially if you have been punching a clock for the past several decades. Some employers offer phased retirement as an option for their long-term employees. As the name implies, it’s a more drawn-out way to exit your work life, and it can benefit the employer in many ways as well as being a way for you to ease out gradually.

And finally, we have to reckon with our thought processes about the whole concept of retirement. Here are a few ways to approach it from a mental standpoint:

· Think of retirement not as a stopping point, but as a graduation

· Imagine your retirement as a time of renewal and growth

· Don’t expect to have it all figured out in six months.

· Expect to spend two years figuring out who you are now

· Meditate on possibilities, not limitations

· Take mental stock of your health and fitness and ponder the ways you can improve it

· Think of retirement as a time of re-invention

· Begin to create a new definition of yourself and start to discover what will bring meaning and purpose to your life.

· Stop thinking of yourself as a human-doing; start thinking of yourself as a human-being

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