An article we just found on the USNews website provides a helpful perspective on “retirement realism” from a writer who has been there. Tom Sightings, retirement author and blogger, gives us some helpful ways to boost our happiness and banish our disappointments in retirement by what he calls “retooling.” You’ll find his insightful article here in which Sightings explains that retooling your retirement really means re-examining your attitudes and adjusting your expectations. Let’s take a look and see what he recommends.
Retooling Your Retirement by “Shifting Thoughts and Energies”
“None of us had the perfect career, the perfect family or the perfect life. Why should retirement be any different?” Sightings asks. “You will face problems and issues that limit your ability to enjoy retirement. Instead of focusing on the bad things, you will need to shift your thoughts and energies to the people and activities that bring you a sense of satisfaction and hope for the future.” Here at AgingOptions, we appreciate this perspective. Like you, we are constantly bombarded by advertising that shows globe-trotting retirees living the so-called good life – just one white-sand beach or European river cruise after another. But that image is completely unrealistic and paints an utterly false picture of what retirement will be like for practically everyone you and I know. As Sightings suggests, instead of obsessing about the cash we can’t spend and the trips we can’t take, a bit of attitude adjustment – retooling your retirement – can reduce your stress, banish your disappointment, and enhance your joy.
Retooling Your Retirement: Seven Practical Ways
Sightings lists seven specific ways to “retool.” Let’s examine the list and see if we agree.
- Manage Expectations: As we said above, the media and our own fantasies “push us to envision an ideal retirement basking in the sun on tropical beaches [or] wandering over pristine golf courses.” But we can become frustrated and disappointed when real life doesn’t match those fantasies. “So instead of falling for the perfect retirement dream – one often created by someone else – focus instead on creating your own version of retirement that has meaning for you,” Sightings advises.
- Accept the Things You Cannot Control: Aging, says the article, involves a series of compromises and adjustments. Do we fight those changes or accept them as a part of life? “You can’t change your genes or fix much about your physical appearance, but you can adjust the way you feel about yourself,” Sightings says in USNews. Each of us needs to take responsibility for our response to the things life hands us.
- Hold No Regrets: “By the time you’ve retired you have probably experienced some failure, loss or heartbreak,” Sightings writes. “But the ghosts of past problems will haunt you only if you let them.” Instead of “revisiting old wounds or keeping old grudges alive,” retirement is a time to live well and leave the past behind.
- Focus on Others: Some of us are naturally self-focused, but it’s wise to shift your attention as you age from your own needs to the needs of others, says Tom Sightings. “Retirement is a stage of life when many people are able to focus on family and what they can do for the next generation.” He adds, “This refocusing can give new meaning to your life, as you take satisfaction in what you can hand down to your children and grandchildren.”
- Face Up to Issues: “Retirement is a time to reckon with all the things you’ve been ignoring for years,” such as your poor health habits or some strain or neglect in your relationships with family and friends. This new stage of life “is an opportunity to pivot toward taking care of long-neglected needs, such as exercise, eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep and finally having heart-to-heart discussions with loved ones.”
- Appreciate the Small Things: Too many people fall into the trap of comparing their retirement lifestyle to that of others, a comparison that leads only to frustration. “After you retire, the symbols of success often mean less than small personal pleasures,” says the article in NextAvenue. “You no longer worry about what your colleagues and competitors think. You care about the smile of a grandchild.” If you lack the money (or the health) for big fancy trips, learn to enjoy the pleasures closer to home, and share them with those closest to you.
- Find Motivation in Your Limitations: “Some people step gingerly into retirement, worried that they are becoming irrelevant and facing a limited future,” Sightings writes. Instead, “you need to make the most of what you have and the time you have left. Let your limitations motivate you to get out and do the things on your bucket list, because if you don’t do something now, you may never do it.” Our interpretation: you worked for decades while saving for retirement – now it’s time to spend some of that money on things you’ve always wanted to do, because you won’t get another chance.
Retooling Your Retirement with the Right Plan
Perhaps your retirement plan needs some fairly minor tweaks – but if you’re like most people, you probably have some goals but no actual plan for your retirement future. For you, the “retooling” this article talks about actually means starting with a clean sheet of paper. With that in mind, if you’re ready for that critical next step in retirement planning, AgingOptions is here for you with an approach that is unique in its scope and strategy: instead of focusing piecemeal on one or two elements of a retirement plan, Rajiv Nagaich helps you look at all the key facets, including finances, medical coverage, legal protection, housing choices, even communication with your family. These are then woven together into an AgingOptions LifePlan, a powerful, individualized tool to help you create the retirement you’ve always hoped for.
Wherever you are on your retirement journey, we hope you’ll join Rajiv at a free LifePlanning Seminar, a fast-paced, information-packed session that will open your eyes to a new way of thinking about and planning for retirement. There’s absolutely no obligation. You’ll find a complete calendar of currently-scheduled seminars here on our Live Events page. It’s never too late to begin. We’ll look forward to meeting you soon at an AgingOptions LifePlanning Seminar. Meanwhile, as we like to say, age on!
(originally reported at https://money.usnews.com)