Advice to prepare for a satisfying retirement typically focuses on the financial side of the equation. Carefully constructed formulas calculate a target amount you will need to save to draw against in retirement based on your expenses, investments, personal life style, and expected years to live. Without this financial security it will be challenging to live any kind of satisfying retirement.
But there is an equally important side of retirement preparation that is often neglected during the planning process. You also need to address the non-financial aspects of retirement. It is important to determine what you will do to live a fulfilling life as a retiree. Beyond just keeping busy, you need a plan to find meaning during the last third of your lifetime. Here are seven important questions to address before you retire.
What are you passionate about? Since you are no longer tied to a job, you can do what you really want to do. But first you need to know what that is. You will be better prepared to retire if you identify a new passion, rather than struggling to figure it out after retiring.
Would you like to continue working in some capacity? If you do, try to set up a second career before leaving your full time job. Having a clear direction helps focus your efforts and improves your odds of success.
Will you retire in your current location or move? If you plan to move, where would you like to go? Before you retire, take the time to identify what is important to you in a retirement location. Also, research the necessities, including neighborhoods, downtowns, restaurants, medical availability, public transportation, senior activities and centers, and proximity to recreation, so that you can make an informed decision.
Do you have enough interests and hobbies to avoid driving your spouse crazy? Separate interests that allow you to spend some time apart can improve the quality of the time you and your spouse spend together. Try out some of your interests now to see if you can sustain them once you retire. Also, determine whether your hobbies will be enough to keep you fulfilled in retirement or if you will need to add new things to do.
Where do you want to travel? Make a list of the places you want to see and how often you want to travel and prioritize them with input from your spouse.
How will you deal with physical limitations? Start to build a support system for a time when you can’t perform certain activities yourself.
Do you plan on leaving an inheritance? If not, your discretionary income just grew.
Retirement planning is more than just financial. What we do in our retirement days to fill the hours, engage our mind, and find meaning will be just as important to our retirement happiness as making sure our finances are in order.
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.