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Experience Life Article about "Fearless Aging"

April, 2016 issue of AARP Bulletin

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Planning for Retirement
December 28, 2016
Retired, sold the family home the first day it was on the market, moved to Florida and rented a home, knowing only they wanted to live somewhere in southern Florida. So goes one couple's retirement experience. How well this goes is yet to be seen.

Consider a different retirement scenario. A year or two or more before retiring, discuss retirement hopes and expectations-where to live, how to find meaning, what to do with all the new-found free time, and how to stay healthy and engaged. Learn about retirement planning-take a class, read a book or work with a retirement-planning professional. As the Boy Scouts say, "Be Prepared."
We can't predict the future, but we can plan for how we want to live. The authors of Live Smart After 50! The Experts' Guide to Life Planning for Uncertain Times, identify the following benefits of planning.
  1. Brings things into clearer focus. It helps us look at the big picture and see new possibilities.
  2. Helps us identify and reduce legal, financial and other risks.
  3. Expands our choices. Planning increases our options.
  4. Enables us to "make our own luck." Knowing our values and goals puts us in a better position to take advantage of opportunities that come our way.
Years before retirement was a possibility, my husband and I enjoyed talking about how we would live someday when we no longer had jobs that required us to be in a certain location at a certain time. We explored places to live and other ways to work. Someday came sooner than we expected when I had the opportunity to take advantage of an early-retirement incentive. Deciding to leave a job I loved earlier than I anticipated was agonizing, but our earlier conversations and planning prepared us to make a good decision.

What is life planning? The Live Smart After 50! authors define life planning as "thinking in a purposeful way about how you want to live. It begins with knowing who you are- your values, strengths and motivations-then applies this knowledge to making choices and setting goals."

Thanks to longer, healthier lives, retirement is a longer time span for Baby Boomers than it was for their parents. In 1960 life expectancy was almost seventy years. Today's sixty-five-year-olds can expect to live another 19.5 years. Twenty years is a long time. Planning how to spend that time increases the chances of those years being good ones.

Retirement offers an opportunity to focus on activities and goals that weren't possible when working full-time, such as living healthier, traveling, pursuing hobbies or volunteering. Retirement goals may range from vague desires to specific plans, but the more focus on clarifying retirement hopes and dreams and planning for them, the greater the chances of retirement being a rewarding time of life.

Ideally, the time for retirement planning is before retirement, but it is never too late to start. One of my coaching clients had been retired for ten years when he decided he wanted to plan a more rewarding life. He reconnected with bowling-an activity he had loved, made new friends and used his skills to volunteer helping older adults with their taxes.

Useful topics to consider when planning for retirement include finances, relationships, where to live, health and fitness, purpose and meaning, identity and travel and leisure. Retirement planning can range from simple to complex, depending on personal style and needs, but the important thing is to get started. The following guide is a good place to start.

  1. Do you have a good sense of how much you need to live the life you want?
  2. How will you ensure you have adequate financial resources?
  1. What causes are important to you?
  2. What talents would you like to use?
  3. What activities are you currently or recently involved with that you would like to continue?
  4. What new activities or causes are you interested in exploring?
  1. When do you plan to retire from your current position?
  2. How much do you want to work in your next position?
  3. Describe what type of work you would like to do.
  4. Describe as completely as possible how you would like to work-contract, project, self-employed, size of business, culture of business, your role.
  1. What physical activities will you do?
  2. Where, with whom and how often will you do them?
  3. How will your diet and nutrition change after you retire from full-time work?
  1. What conversations have you and your significant other had about life after retirement?
  2. Are there friends from work with whom you would like to stay in touch? If so, how?
  3. What current relationships do you plan to spend more time on? How?
  4. Where might you meet new people?
  1. How do you describe yourself in non-work related terms?
  2. How will introduce yourself after you retire?
  1. What role will travel play in your future?
  2. How will you continue to engage your mind?

©2010 Ageinista L.L.C