Retirement scares me. Part of it is the financial side of things and the nagging question of will I have enough to last throughout my entire retirement. None of us is immune to this fear unless we have been fortunate enough somewhere along the way to hit it big and money is no object.
What scares me just as much is what will I do when I retire? How will I fill the days with exciting and worthwhile activities? Can I avoid boredom at a time when I finally have the ability to do whatever I want to do?
Some emphatically state they don’t have time to think about what to do as they are busy each day just getting through their day. Hobbies, travels, and activities keep them running at full speed all of the time. They cannot imagine a retirement life that is anything but action packed and fears of boredom or empty hours to fill does not cross their mind.
But I am not sure. Having taken an 18 month trial-retirement journey, I was more than ready to get back to work. And 18 months is a fraction of the time we can expect to be retired. Can I really keep busy enough in retired life?
Legitimate retirement fears? Not yet retired, I am obviously not the best judge of exactly how retirement will play out. But as I plan for that day, here are some concerns:
1. Travel. Wonderful, exciting, so much to see, I look forward to lots of travel in retirement. But how much travel is realistic? If we travel once each quarter to a new destination, will that be too much? In 10 years that would be 40 different places. I love researching new destinations and planning out trips but that’s quite a lot. And what about the expense of travel? Yes we can travel on a budget but air fares and hotels quickly add up. Travel will be a big part of retirement but just how much of my retired life will it occupy?
2. Physical capabilities. Today I ride the bike three times a week, lift weights twice a week, do a combination of yoga and pilates twice a week, and on the weekends, my wife and I go for extended walks and hikes. But I noticed on our last hike that it was more of a struggle to get up the hill at the end, and I am years from retirement age. Physical activity is a big part of my life but the likelihood is that years from now I will be more limited. I will never surrender but need to consider that less time will be occupied with this. What will take its place?
3. Enough hobbies. My parents are active in tennis, bridge, golf, theater, travel, dining out, and various other events. Their calendar looks like that of a busy CEO. But I do not have quite so many varied interests. By starting my planning now I hope to discover things to do that I am passionate about to fill my retirement hours. But what if I do not?
4. To-do lists. When we first retire, attacking that ever-growing list of things to do is exciting. Projects long in need of completion get done and a genuine feeling of accomplishment is experienced. But how long will it take to finish off the list? During my brief time off, I quickly finished my list including new additions along the way. I do not believe a to-do list will keep retirees busy for any extended period of time.
Don’t get me wrong--I am definitely looking forward to retiring. I hope that by planning for retirement ahead of time I will identify retirement challenges today and have time to make adjustments to better prepare to keep busy as a senior citizen.
Maybe I will be a busy bee during retirement with little time to fret over what to do next, but maybe not. And that is why retirement scares me.
Dave Bernard is not yet retired but has begun his due diligence to plan for a satisfying retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement–Only the Beginning.