“You Rest, You Rust”
Not long ago, retirement represented “the end;” the culmination of a long career that ended because one could no longer physically or mentally maintain the rigors of the job. It typically wasn’t far off from the average life expectancy either, so in many ways it felt like the end of life, period.
For a plethora of reasons, the perception around retirement today is significantly different. Today, retirement represents a new beginning: it’s the third act (or fourth or fifth) in the story of your life. With these changes comes another layer of retirement planning: how you will pass your time.
Many years ago, I was talking to a favorite client at the bank. Henry was a spirited octogenarian who helped shape my views on what retirement should look like. He was always on the go, always learning and always smiling. He truly enjoyed his life. Henry shared this little pearl of wisdom which has stuck with me for over a decade: “You Rest, You Rust.” He went on to say that so many people retire and stop living their lives, trading their careers and hobbies for Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, a sedentary lifestyle. Yet, it is more important to exercise your mind and body during retirement than ever because once you stop, you get “rusty” and it just becomes more and more difficult to pursue your interests and to find enjoyment in life.
Just as you would carefully consider your financials when you build a retirement plan, it is crucial to plan for your lifestyle. Developing a “lifestyle plan” that you must ensure can be supported by your financials will set you off to a great start.
Planning to Enjoy Your Retirement
Define and Pursue Your Hobbies
For some people, this is easy. Perhaps you’ve been enjoying your hobby throughout your life and are thrilled to have additional time to pursue it. For others, it is trickier. Occasionally, hobbies took low priority because of career or familial obligations. You may have to dig a little deeper. Think back over your life to things that brought you pleasure; can you make a hobby out of them? Is there something that you’ve always thought: “If I had more time, I would want to do that.” Now is the time. Additionally, consider whether you can find like-minded individuals to join your pursuits. For example, if you love reading; give some thought to joining or starting a book club.
Maintain and Nurture Your Relationships
Retirement is a great opportunity to spend more time with family and friends. Sometimes, the extra time might leave you feeling like you are more alone. Perhaps a lot of your relationships were tied up with work, or you lost touch with old friends because your life was so hectic with the demands of raising your own family. With social media, it is easier than ever to reconnect with old friends. Think back on your life to the friendships that meant something and consider reaching out.
Never Stop Learning
Gandhi once said, “Learn as if you were to live forever.” Learn something new every day. Pursue your curiosity. Read voraciously. Take a class. The opportunities are endless. Check your county parks and recreation system, local community colleges and neighborhood groups.
Create a Bucket List
Are there things in your life that you have always wanted to do but couldn’t for one reason or another? Create a list of the top 5-10 things that you would like to do. Try to include some things that can be easily accomplished with some bigger endeavors, so you can start to check some items off your list. And keep the list going! A bucket list should be ever evolving, so as you check a few items off, you add a few new ones.
Many times, retirees struggle to find fulfillment. Volunteering is a great way to rediscover your purpose. Sit down and let your mind wander for a while about the things that mean the most to you. Is there a cause that means something to you? Do you have a particular skill that might benefit a certain group? Try to come up with a list of 3-5 causes (social, religious, non-profits, health, etc.) that might resonate with you and then look for opportunities to volunteer in your community for like-minded organizations. Not sure where to look? Try Google, Facebook, a local chamber of commerce, or just tapping your network.