May 12, 2024

Take Control of Your Retirement: Plan Effectively for a Stress-Free Future

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Who Knew Retirement Could Be So Stressful?

I pulled into the driveway of my new ‘downstairs’ apartment, located in the basement of a private home. I wasn’t very familiar with my landlords, who lived upstairs. As I got out of the car, I heard loud yelling coming from the house: “Get out! Get out of my house! Go do something!” It was Pat, the husband, who opened the screen door, clearly agitated, and stood on the stoop. Following him, his wife Faith shouted, “Go do something!” from inside the house.

As I walked towards the stairs leading to my apartment, passing Pat, he muttered, “This isn’t what I thought retirement was going to be like!” In the months that followed, there were similar outbursts. He tried to adjust to retirement and she tried to navigate having him home all the time.

This experience wasn’t my first introduction to the challenges that can arise when relationships transition to a new chapter, but it was certainly the most dramatic I had witnessed at the time.

Where The Myth Starts

There are countless resources on how to prepare for major life events; starting high school, bringing home a baby or recovering from an affair. However, there’s little discussion about the realities of retirement, particularly the questions of “what do I do with my time?” and “did I really marry you?” It’s as if we expect the next chapter of our lives to magically fall into place, which, as many find out, is rarely the case.

Part of the challenge stems from a lack of foresight. Many of us don’t envision ourselves as the person who hasn’t thought about what comes next. You’ve gotten accustomed to the structure of work, with the transition to a more open-ended schedule feeling daunting. While vacations offer a temporary escape, they don’t provide a long-term solution.

What I observed that day was a couple unsure of their next steps in marriage and retirement. Pat and Faith had been so focused on their careers and raising a family that they hadn’t considered what life would look like once work was no longer the primary focus. Pat, in particular, seemed to lack a social circle outside of work, often lamenting his shortage of golf or tennis partners. Faith struggled to adapt to having him constantly at home.

This underscores the importance of planning for the next chapter of your life. Who are you? What are your values? How do you envision your life partner fitting into this new phase? If you’re on your own, how do you see yourself moving forward?

Getting Started

I’ve encountered many people who find themselves in unexpected circumstances later in life, living in homes that no longer suit their needs or reliant on others for basic tasks. This isn’t about having all the answers right now; it’s about starting to think about how you want to shape your retirement. Rushed decisions can backfire, so it’s important to consider what kind of lifestyle and community you want in your later years.

Start by envisioning your ideal lifestyle and work backwards. What hobbies or projects have you put off that you can now pursue? By answering these questions, you can begin to craft a fulfilling retirement. Learn from the experiences of others so that you can avoid common pitfalls and make the most of your next chapter.

Not sure you want to do this on your own? I’m here if you’re looking for support, guidance and some serious planning. I hope to see you soon!

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