Prepping for Retirement: It’s Not Just About the Money

My father retired after 27 years in the Navy and 10 years working for the state of Maryland.  He and my mother put 5 kids through Catholic grade school and high school.  He also assisted in college funding as best he could.  His life was devoted to raising a family in partnership with a devoted wife.  When it came time to retire, we threw him a party and bought him a set of golf clubs.  He never took the clubs out of the bag.

What happened? He never prepared for life in retirement.  He had worked his entire life.  He hauled ice as a young man for his father’s ice business.  At the age of 22, he volunteered for submarine service ten days after Pearl Harbor.  He made a career out of the Navy and served until the end of the 1960’s.  He worked at several jobs after that and was always able to provide for his family.  When forced to, he even sold cars for a time.  He was able to secure state employment and another pension.

He did what he needed to do to finance a comfortable retirement.  What he did not do, was prepare mentally for retirement.  He didn’t know what to do with himself.  While he still enjoyed watching sports and doting on his grandchildren, there was still too much time in a day.  We bought him golf clubs, presuming he would take up the sport.  No one asked him what he wanted.  It became clear he did not want to golf.  He eventually became a regular at Swallow at the Hollow, long before it was a segment on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.  I miss him greatly and I’m proud of what he was able to accomplish in his lifetime.

What can you do to mentally prepare for retirement? Here are some ideas:

Take a Mental Self-Assessment:  What interests you? What are some things you’ve always wanted to do? Think about the things you’ve enjoyed in your life.  Are there ways to build on that in retirement? Do you want to start a new business?  How will you fund it?

Your Job Isn’t You:  Don’t let your job define you.  Too many people allow their career to be the summation of who they are.  When the career is over, how will you cope?  Take the time to visualize yourself outside of your current role. 

Volunteer: There is no greater satisfaction than giving to others.  Find a cause you believe in and spend time helping.

Plan your Travel:  Many future retirees dream of the travel they will do in retirement.   What some do not think about is the expense and time.  List the places you want to visit and then start planning. 

A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional can help you to develop a financial plan that includes goal planning for things like travel or starting a new business.

Regardless of what you decide to do in retirement, you may have up to 30 years or more to do it.  That’s a whole other career, so pick activities you love. 

As always, feel free to share with others and make suggestions for future articles:

Remember, it all starts with a plan.