This is an article from the Law Offices of Cheryl David (http://www.cheryldavid.com/) in Greensboro, North Carolina, that we thought others may find helpful.
A happy and fulfilling retirement means different things to different people. For you, it may mean transitioning from a full-time career into meaningful part-time work. Or perhaps you envision yourself spending more time with family, starting a garden or making regular visits to the golf course. The key thing is to consider your options and plans before you turn in your office ID and head out the door for the last time.
You may consider a bridge year right after retirement, a chance to decompress after a hectic working career and to gain perspective about how you want to spend retirement. Perhaps you have always wanted to travel around the world, work for a relief organization, learn Italian in Rome, build a website or learn how to repair clocks. This is your chance.
Focus on ideas, brainstorm and write down your thoughts. Instead of “travel,” list something more specific, like a trip to the lake or a walking tour of a foreign country. Maybe you want to stay involved in your community, volunteering with kids one day a week.
Keep a scrapbook, or start a journal depicting how you envision your retirement. The more descriptive you are, the more tangible your retirement will seem. This will help keep you focused on real goals, which will make each of them more attainable.
But if your goals are still general or vague, that’s OK too. If retirement means you stop doing things you love doing, it won’t be a happy experience. Know why you want to retire. Do you want to be engaged in activity that’s meaningful, not just activity for activity’s sake? Do you dream of a happy transition from working life?
Start with the vision you already have as your foundation for beginning the rewiring process. You may find yourself daydreaming about bikes, boats, planes and RVs — you are more likely than previous generations to be active.
Among roads to follow:
- Encore careers are liberating and fulfilling. People underestimate the things they like about work. These can be small or large things; often they miss the people side of work most. Retiring is often a great opportunity to start a new, totally unrelated career. Start a new business. People need someone to take care of their pets, watch their empty houses, drive them to the airport and fix their computers or bicycles. Tourist destinations need tour guides. Perhaps you have always had an idea for a product or service — now is the time to test it out. Do something you like, but beware of investing too much of your capital and try to get good advice from someone whose business judgment you trust.
- Volunteering is a route you may find rewarding. From mentoring children to helping a small business on a project, assisting at the library or hospital, trading work for free space at a national park, helping a local volunteer group or even going into the Peace Corps —there are countless opportunities. Think in terms of what you would like to do and which organizations you would like to help; it’s a rare nonprofit or government body that couldn’t use an extra set of hands.
- A lot of folks didn’t have the time to practice or play a sport during their working years. They often feel at a disadvantage trying to learn something that others have spent years perfecting (or at least trying to perfect). That shouldn’t stop you. Many folks who have come to sports later in life get great pleasure (and other benefits, like fitness) from their new activities — whether it is fishing, boating, pickle-ball, tennis, bocce, biking or water aerobics. If you take up a difficult sport like golf or tennis, take lessons. Golfers don’t have to worry about what to do with their time — they’re too busy playing, practicing and reliving their rounds afterward.
- Start a hobby while you are still working. That will give you time to explore different alternatives, as well as give you something to start on day one of your retirement. Whether it is quilting, playing bridge or mah-jongg, scrapbooking, knitting, raising orchids, gardening, woodworking, painting, doing crossword puzzles/Sudoku, playing music or collecting stamps — start looking now for something that you get excited about. It will give you something to look forward to, as well as be a chance to interact with others about something interesting.
- Travel doesn’t mean taking a big trip or two and then forgetting about it. Some people have a passion for travel; they save and plan for several big trips a year. They scheme for ways to exchange homes or work for extended stays in nice places. Or they buy or rent a camper and travel for long periods on a budget. When they are on the trip, they savor the experience and enjoy planning for the next.
Retirement planning is about looking at where you are today and where you want to be and finding the most desirable path to get from here to there. Opportunities to take courses, start a new career and become a volunteer can make your future an adventure. For many, it’s an opportunity to seek fresh challenges in a different area of paid or unpaid work, learn new skills, help others or take up studies. Others travel or get fit to enjoy what may be as many years out of the workforce as in it.