Thursday, May 18, 2017

Can you give your retirement a grade?

I read an interesting post that asked this question: If you were to give the retirement life you have been living to this point a grade – like back in school – would you be looking at an “A” for excellent or a “C” for average or (hopefully not) an “F” for failure?

This is a tough question to ask as there are a lot of variables, would you give yourself a pass or a fall. If I was asked this when I retired 11 years ago, I would have given myself a Fail, today I give myself a Pass. I failed for the first few years of retirement because I did not plan for it. I retired on the spur of the moment. The reasons at the time seemed good, but within a few months, I wanted to be back at work. So, I went back, part-time for a couple of years, full time for a couple of more, then back to part-time and finally I eased into retirement.  It’s not always easy to live the retirement of our dreams. I think the bottom line is are you happy with your second act, or is there room for improvement? And if there is room for improvement what can you do to improve?

Before assigning a grade to my retirement or yours there are a few questions worthy of consideration:
1.    Do you find meaning in your life? Retirement planning and retirement itself is not just about finding the money. When we are working, we identify with our job/career or position. What is your net worth when you are no longer that person? We need a reason to get out of bed in the morning, what is yours? If you can’t find worthwhile endeavours beyond the job retirement can feel empty. It becomes difficult to motivate yourself to get out of bed each morning – what is the purpose? But if you have reasons, motivations, passions that excite you each day can offer a new opportunity. In retirement, you are the captain of your own ship, you don’t have to stick to the same sea that led you here. You are free to try new things, cut loose and do what feels good. Finding meaning in retirement is very personal and no two paths are exactly the same. How would you rate your current situation?
2.    Do you have plans for the future? We all need goals they help us stay motivated, give us a reason to get up in the morning. Goals help you find your passion, whatever it is. Your passion could be travelling, or learning, reading or writing, painting or singing. What goals have you set for yourself for tomorrow? Next month? Next year?
3.    What would you change about your situation? Retirement allows us to improve our situation, and to perhaps set out on new adventures. Are there areas requiring attention to realise the best life possible? Can you fine-tune your lifestyle to increase the likelihood of living a fulfilling life? If you have identified some areas that require attention, what is holding you back from starting to fix them?
4.    What are the best things about being retired? Life is not easy, we can feel overwhelmed by money problems, health issues, or just sheer boredom. Some of my friends call me an optimist I typically see the glass half full. Many years ago, I found that that worrying had no effect on the issues I was facing. If I had control, I could take action, if the situation was out of my control, I could only react to what was happening.  Why not face the future like Frank Sinatra who sang “The best is yet to come”?
5.    What are your plans to continue learning? Learning is second nature to humans, we have a deep desire to learn. Education and learning are not the same things. We learn through, reading, travelling going to seminars, taking classes, watching TV, listening to the radio, or just talking to people. Put that mind to work. Keep yourself engaged and challenged. You are never done learning.
6.    Are you happy? At the end of the day when you glance into the mirror, what do you see? Retirement is about finding the right balance, between all of the conflicting calls on your time. Whatever path you discover, whatever steps and missteps you take, wherever your journey leads you if when it is all said and done you should feel positive about how your time is being spent. If you don’t take steps to change, if you do, feel free to do more of the same!

Each of us has the power to influence the quality of our retired life. It took me about 9 years to move from failing retirement to passing retirement. With planning my hope is that you take a shorter period of time to feel good about your retirement. Why settle for average when you can be excellent. When you think about it, now that you are retired is there a worthier focus for your attention?

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