Retirement Lifestyle Planning
More people in the United States are retired or approaching retirement than ever before. A lot of these people plan and save to ensure their financial stability during retirement, but too many fail to develop strategies for exactly what they'll do with their lives during those years.
It's never too early or too late to begin a life plan for retirement. You'll probably revise it many times before you reach retirement age, whether that's in 5 years or 25. No matter when you kick off your plan, you're less likely to have difficulty adjusting to retirement if you've thought in advance about what you want it to be like. Planning offers several benefits:
- Gathering information for your retirement helps clarify your options and may lead to some surprising opportunities.
- Having a plan can help you deal with the loss of a career and a work identity.
- Planning is an exercise in goal setting that can help you accomplish more and feel fulfilled.
Thinking about what you want to do, where you want to live, what you want your relationships to be like, and what you want your lifestyle to be are all good places to start your planning. Write down your goals in each of these areas, and keep them with your financial plan. Change them as necessary.
Phases of Retirement
Like going through adolescence or becoming a parent, retirement is a time of change that can cause turmoil and stress—as well as tremendous personal growth. Retirement changes your lifestyle, your perceptions of yourself, and what you do with your time.
As with any period of change, retirement is different for every person. However, there are some general stages that most people go through:
- Preretirement—As you enter this phase, you'll face the realization that retirement isn't just some far-off time in your future; it's imminent. During this phase, primary tasks involve getting ready for retirement.
- The honeymoon—This phase provides a time for you to enjoy yourself as well as plan for the routines and life that will follow. It's a good time to start considering the big picture.
- Disenchantment—For some people, a period of disenchantment and sometimes depression follows the honeymoon. During this time, the main tasks are adjustment and reflection. (Taking the time to adequately plan for retirement can help you avoid disenchantment.)
- Reorientation—This is when you develop ideas and start moving toward a more balanced life and diversified set of interests, relationships, and routines. The tasks of this phase involve balancing and diversification.
- Stability—In this phase, you're not just thinking about and planning for your retirement, you're living it. Here, the final goals are to determine for yourself who you want to be, what you want to do, and how you want to do it.
Holistic Retirement Planning
There are six basic areas of retirement planning. They are
- Letting go of work
Think about each of the six retirement planning areas with these aims in mind:
- Learning about yourself
- Learning about your options
- Setting tentative goals
- Implementing your goals
- Evaluating your situation as you approach your goals
- Revising and refining your goals
Include physical and mental health in your plans.
Plan on staying active physically and mentally. It's crucial to aging successfully. Eating well, exercising regularly, and getting regular physical exams are all ways you can make sure you're in top shape to enjoy retirement. You might also consider thinking about what your priorities will be after you're finished working full-time. Maybe you'll want to become a fitness instructor or run a water aerobics class. You can begin working toward those goals before retirement.
For example, consider
- Researching your family history
- Joining a religious or spiritual group
- Training for a 5-kilometer walk or run
- Starting a business
Follow your interests to new challenges.
Think carefully about each of these questions. The answers can serve as your retirement map.
- What would you like to accomplish in the years ahead?
- What's really important to you? If you knew you had just a few weeks or months to live, how would you use them?
- What's missing from your life right now?
- What sort of choices are you facing now and what sort of decisions are you making?
As you make your decisions
- Think of all your possible choices, including the outlandish ones. Be creative.
- Review the list and eliminate or adjust choices that are physically impossible. For example, you probably won't become a soloist with a ballet company, but you might start taking ballet lessons.
- Evaluate your choices. Now think about the choices that seem most realistic. As in the previous step, try to be creative. You may not be able to run for the U.S. Senate, but how about the local school board?
- Lay out the consequences. What are the down sides to your possible choices? Who'll be affected by your choice, and how? How will your possible choices affect your life or your finances?
- Reflect on the decision you're planning to make: What will it feel like to take those steps and make that choice you're considering? What will it feel like not to make that choice? Is the decision you're pondering permanent or is it reversible?
Explore your options.
There are lots of options for retirees today. Be adventurous and explore them all. It's possible that an off-the-wall idea will spin into the perfect plan.
Change your scene...permanently.
Sometimes a job is the only thing that keeps you connected to the place where you live. After you retire, you may want to move near your family or friends, next to a golf course, beach, or on top of a mountain. When considering new locales, remember to check out the tax situation. One way to stretch your retirement dollars is to choose a location that offers residents special tax incentives. There are lots of places in the United States and abroad that offer enjoyable lifestyles and reduced taxes.
Retirees can travel from home or even take their home on the road. Travel can also reduce your tax burden. Travelers can usually spend as many as 9 months in a foreign country on a tax-free visitor's visa. Banks treat yachts as homes, so why not make the boat your primary residence? That way, you can bring your home along when you travel.
Volunteering is an excellent way to pursue an interest and be part of the community. Lend your marketing expertise to a local environmental organization or become a church deacon. Serve as a reading coach at a local school. Volunteers set their own schedules, but still have a place to report to each day or week. Volunteering also provides challenges and social connections.
Combine traveling and volunteering by joining the Peace Corps. Seven percent of Peace Corps volunteers are older than 501. If 2 years seems like too much of a commitment, consider volunteering at a park, zoo, theater group, or any other place in which you have an interest. There's even a program called RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) run by the National and Community Service's Senior Corps that focuses on volunteer opportunities for retired people. You can visit their website at Link opens in a new windowhttps://www.nationalservice.gov/programs/senior-corps/senior-corps-programs/rsvp to learn more.
Explore your spiritual needs.
Retirement can be the perfect time to focus on spiritual journeys. Want to visit a monastery or learn to meditate? Consider international retreat centers or retreats offered through your place of worship.
Do work your way!
You can work for fun and money in retirement. If your favorite thing in the world is work, your dream retirement might involve a combination of part-time jobs or a new business.
If this is your dream, now is your time. In the current labor market, sometimes called the gig economy, temporary, flexible jobs are commonplace, and companies are trending toward hiring independent contractors or freelancers instead of full-time employees. Part-time work is also a good way to stretch your retirement dollars.
Set a course toward your goals.
After the self-evaluation process is complete, choose a plan. Don't be afraid to reconsider and revise retirement plans as your situation changes.
While exploring your options, make sure to account for transition time; to build new relationships and maintain existing ones. While you're making time to take care of business, be sure to plan for the fun things in life, too.
- Peace Corps. (2018, March 27). Does age matter in the Peace Corps? Retrieved July 1, 2019, from https://www.peacecorps.gov
Feeley, V. & Gorman, M. (Reviewed 2022). Lifestyle planning for retirement. Raleigh, NC: Workplace Options.