When most people think about planning for retirement, they focus on the financial aspects first and foremost. While understanding how to save for retirement or how to apply for social security benefits is important, the choice to retire is ultimately an emotional decision, one that will affect many different areas of your life. This transition includes how you relate to your spouse, friends, family members, and most importantly, to yourself.

Preparing to Retire

In order to handle this major life change with the least amount of resistance, start preparing at least one to five years in advance. This is a process, a marathon, and certainly not a sprint. Start by visualizing your life in retirement. How do you look? How do you feel? What do you see, and who is there?

If your job was a major source of identity or drive in life, now is the time to consider how you can pivot that energy into something that brings you joy, and not necessarily material wealth. Time is now your new currency. Spend it doing something you love that can bring your life peace. 

Create a Retirement Plan

Your next step is to make a retirement plan that focuses on small, attainable goals. Write these down; 67% of couples report that writing their goals or dreams down helps materialize them in reality. This is no different for retirement. This plan will also include discussions with your spouse/partner or close family members, as this will be an adjustment for them as well. 

As you plan, some beneficial questions to consider are:

  • Do you need to change your current living situation in order to feel secure or to meet your basic needs throughout retirement?

  • If moving is not an option, are there assets that could be liquidated in order to sustain your financial stability? 

  • How can you structure your day in a way that provides purpose and meaning, but does not burn you out?

  • What kinds of routines will that new structure be made of? 

This is the arena where old interests or new hobbies can be cultivated. Birding, gardening, reading, and writing all come to mind. Or consider a volunteer position, perhaps at that animal shelter that you’ve always wanted to pursue but just couldn’t find the time. 

A New Sense of Purpose

If these ideas bring up feelings of resistance and doubt, take a breath. Most people have hang-ups transitioning from one financial state to another, whether it’s through a divorce, retirement, or paying off debt. Now’s the time, however, to incorporate activities which may have seemed frivolous before as you create a new purpose for your life. 

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