There are plenty of people – and maybe you’re one of them – who think about retirement for decades while still working, only to be terrified by the prospect as the date draws closer. Recently we read this article on the topic of retirement fears on the NexrAvenue website. Author Connie Baher, a nationally-known career transition specialist, says it might help ease your fears if you’ll stop and think about “Day One” – what that first day of your retirement might look like.
Retirement Day One: “Now What?”
“You’re standing alone on the edge of a cliff, staring off into a vast unknown,” Baher writes. “Is this you, thinking about retirement?” She cites one man she knows who is ready to retire financially, but not emotionally. “He’s still working, in part because he likes it, but partly because he’s scared to death,” she says. “And he’s not alone.” This man told Baher that he has a recurring vision of himself “waking up in the morning, going to the fitness club and having coffee at Starbucks while I check my email. It’s 9 a.m. Now what?”
Baher says in NextAvenue that as boomers we’re all pioneers, in a way, facing a long season of retired life for which many of us are not prepared. “If you’ve reached 65, the odds (depending on your gender and marital state) can be close to 1 in 10 that you’ll make it to 100,” she writes. “So, if luck and good health are with you, you’ve got a chance of having maybe at least three good decades ahead after you leave your full-time job.” She calls this uncharted demographic territory.
Retirement Day One: How Do People Actually Do This?
As Baher writes, “My Harvard MBA helped me in my business career, but it didn’t tell me about this.” In response, Baher decided to conduct in-depth research and then share her findings. She interviewed 500 men and women and held multiple workshops, “all trying to answer one key question: How do people actually do this new retirement?” Her answer from all that research came down to what she calls the 3 C’s of Retirement – in her words, “a plan for Day One.”
Retirement Day One: Clean out your Closet
Baher says this first “C” might seem counterintuitive or simplistic, but diving into a clean-up project is actually a great place to begin. The space can be your actual closet, your home office or your garage. “But, of course, it’s not just the physical act of cleaning out these spaces that’s helpful,” she writes. “It’s about the virtual act of making space, clearing out old stuff and giving you a more literal clean slate for building your new life.”
“For years, or maybe as long as you can remember, you’ve been used to the structure of worklife and the social environment of the workplace,” Baher continues. “So, mark the transition physically by tossing out the old stuff. That way, you can make both mental and physical space for the new.”
Retirement Day One: Cultivate Your Curiosity
The second “C” is a recognition that retirement should be the ideal time to explore things you’re curious about. That might mean taking an online courses or auditing classes at a nearby college, many of which are offered free or at reduced rates to seniors. Community websites often list a broad range of recreational and educational programs that are readily available. Do an online search for “lifelong learning near me” and you’ll be amazed at what comes up.
The first day (or days) of retirement is the perfect opportunity to consider trying things you’ve always wanted to attempt. “Enroll in a painting class, try ceramics, learn glassblowing,” Baher writes. “You’re not making a lifetime commitment here. Maybe you were meant to be a wood carver, maybe not. See what takes hold.” The same goes with volunteerism or travel. Use the first few days of retirement to consider the possibilities all around you.
“This could be the time to begin reviving your passions,” Baher suggests. “Think back to what you loved as a kid, the dreams you had before you had a mortgage and school tuitions. Join a model railroad club. Dust off the clarinet you’ve kept on the top shelf all these years. Sit down to start writing the novel you once began.” The sky is the limit when it comes to possibilities.
Retirement Day One: Coast a Bit
The third “C” advises new retirees to coast – or, we might say, to chill. It’s important, NextAvenue suggests, not to think you have to have all the retirement answers right away. “On Day One of retirement, talk yourself into taking your time to figure out where life will take you. Enjoy your newfound freedom and don’t expect to create your new life plan overnight.” It’s not unusual to take the first couple of years reconnecting with family, spending more time with friends, getting back in shape, and pursuing things you enjoy. “This,” says Baher, “is your chance to discover, and uncover, the authentic you.”
As Baher points out, we find the idea of retiring uncomfortable partly because we think of it as a time of withdrawal. (The origin of “retire” is a French word that means “to draw back.”) However, “It’s not about pulling back, it’s about jumping in with both feet. Or, to change the image, about taking wing and soaring off that cliff.” She suggests we think of retirement as a rare opportunity to create a new life – exhilarating and a little frightening. “It’s a time to reinvent, to redefine who you really are,” says Baher, “to re-focus on what you think is really meaningful. So, when you come back home from the farewell party at the office, prepare for the luxury of sleeping in and then get up to start your next chapter — you’ve got a plan for Day One.”
Retirement Planning: What About Day Two?
We love and embrace the idea of approaching retirement creatively, but there’s a major practical need too many retirees overlook: comprehensive retirement planning. Rajiv Nagaich of AgingOptions refers to this as LifePlanning, because – when done right – it encompasses all five key elements of retirement living, including financial, legal, medical, housing and family. When all these fit together like interlocking pieces of a puzzle, you have a blueprint that will allow you to build the retirement you’ve always dreamed of.
Rajiv invites you to attend a free workshop called a LifePlanning Seminar that will explain the process. Then any next step you’d like to take is entirely up to you. Visit our Live Events page for details and seminar registration. If you’re thinking about the “Three C’s” described in the NextAvenue article, don’t overlook the fourth “C” – Come to a LifePlanning Seminar. Age on!
(originally reported at www.nextavenue.org)