This article is reprinted with permission from NextAvenue.org.
I don’t have a green thumb. In fact, it seems my greatest lawn and gardening skill is growing things in places they’re not supposed to be. You want or need me to patch your lawn, forget it. But if you need weed between some bricks on your patio, in a crack on your sidewalk, or in the yard, it seems like I can somehow get the job done.
Jokes aside, when it comes to creating a lush lawn or garden, fertilizer is one of the most important components. It serves as a crucial ingredient since trees, flowers, vegetables, and shrubs cannot produce everything they need to thrive. They need external forces like sun, water and healthy soil to grow and bloom.
Similarly, we often plant ourselves into retirement without fertilizer. Many assume that life will be fruitful after they stop working just because they reach a certain age or have enough money. But the ground beneath them in terms of relationships, health, identity, and purpose may not be healthy enough to fully thrive in retirement.
Prepare for all aspects of retirement
Therefore, the proliferation of a truly comprehensive retirement plan must include concrete plans and strategies for these non-financial aspects. In other words, adding fertilizer to the sunshine and irrigating a retirement portfolio by creating a concrete, written plan for mental, social, physical, and spiritual well-being is critical to truly succeeding in retirement.
As with any other season of life, problems often creep in and slowly take root before we realize how deep the problem is. Because of this, it’s important to regularly examine the ground around you and not be afraid to dig deeper and discover the root of the problem. When we understand the cause of something, we are better equipped to find a solution.
As a former social worker and personal trainer turned financial advisor and public speaker, I see and understand both sides of the equation. In other words, I see the need and value in helping people plan and prepare for both the financial and psychological aspects of retirement.
See also: Not sure when to apply for Social Security? Consider these 4 things before you do this
8 Unusual Retirement Themes to Consider
One way I do this with clients is with a checklist of 50+ things that can creep in and overtake a person or couple’s retirement. Here’s an example of the more unusual things on the list to illustrate the value beyond the dollars and cents of traditional retirement savings.
1. How do I introduce myself? Because when I say, “I’m retired,” the conversations end.
2. Why am I afraid to tell my friends I’m not enjoying retirement?
3. Why am I mourning the loss of my career? i hated my job
4. Why do I feel lonely even though I’m around people?
5. Why does my volunteering feel unfulfilling?
6. I don’t want to live my spouse’s retirement. What should I do?
7. How can I stop feeling resentment towards my spouse because he/she retired and I’m still working?
8th. How can I convince my retired friends that I want to do more than just sit and drink?
This isn’t the kind of information that makes it into commercials, brochures or retirement planning seminars. But it’s the real things that are happening that people want and need help with.
See: How to retire well – even if you are not rich
The other harsh reality is that finance professionals aren’t trained to handle this stuff. They have little to no training and worse, no tools or resources.
So what happens in the end? People suffer in silence for years, not realizing they need a plan and support to replace their work identity, fill their time, stay relevant and connected, and stay mentally and physically active. If not, weeds like alcoholism, isolation, depression, and divorce can creep in and take over.
A holistic approach to retirement
If people are to thrive and thrive in retirement, they need a much more holistic approach to retirement that includes fertilizer for all the important areas of retirement, not just the financial ones.
It’s one of the reasons I created the Certified Professional Retirement Coach designation and the Retirement Coaches Association. Both serve as a central foundation for a growing industry aimed at helping people make better transitions.
See also: Why it’s okay to do nothing when you retire—and beyond
For too long people have been taught that retirement is primarily a financial event and that the other, more personal aspects will just work out over time. But that’s just not true, in fact it’s the non-financial parts that need the most care and attention.
As you prepare to transition into retirement, here are a few things to help you thrive, not wither.
- Take some time to write down what a perfect day and week might look like for you. Many people find figuring out that perfect day easy, but extrapolating it to a week can be a little more difficult. This exercise will help you see how much time you really need to fill and what items you have for it
- Make a list of things you will gain or benefit from when you retire and a list of things you could lose. Many people enjoy gains like more time and freedom, but don’t realize that they are losing aspects of routine, goal, social interaction, and physical activity. When you know what you’re going to gain and lose, you can plan to create substitutes so you’re not alone in your yard.
- Take a look at your social network. It’s not uncommon for your friends and co-workers to be a big part of your overall social life. While people have the best of intentions to keep the network busy, some of the shared bond that brought you together and kept you together may fade with retirement, so it’s important to look for additional opportunities as well.
Robert Laura is a bestselling author, national columnist, and founder of the Retirement Coaches Association and RetirementProject.org. He is an experienced conference speaker and trainer, and a pioneer in The New Era Of Retirement, which focuses on the non-financial aspects of life after work. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is reprinted with permission from NextAvenue.org© 2022 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. All rights reserved.
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