Retirement is about giving yourself permission to live. Permission to be happier. Permission to actually enjoy life. Permission to actually enjoy something other than reporting for work everyday. You can enjoy life in retirement.
In her book, called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying the author, Bronnie Ware, surprisingly asserts the dying expressed “I wish I allowed myself to be happier. To enjoy life, work less.” In fact, “Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions and lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to themselves. Tricked themselves that they were content. In fact, deep within, they longed to laugh and have silliness in their life again."
Having retired three times and then un-retiring three times I have learned a lot. I have learned that I had no idea what retirement was. No idea what I was going to do once retired. I knew I wanted to rest and take a break from the everyday grind. I knew I wasn’t going to stay retired. Then it happened.
I realized I liked retirement a lot more than I thought. I realized I could enjoy life in retirement.
That is when I realized that my fear of living was a significant impediment to thinking long term. A block to being able to plan for retirement. I had seen far too much death in my life. In my experience, I was going along enjoying life and something tragic would happen. My world changed in an instant. I was in shock and couldn’t think straight. Everything seemed a little foggy. This is how I ended up in survival mode. This is when I made my biggest financial mistakes. Thinking back it is shocking how easy it is to make a financial mistakes. Mistakes that impact you the rest of your life. This is when you need a financial plan and a team you can lean on.
After a lifetime of trying to do-it-myself, I wished I hadn‘t. In my experience, it is crazy to think you can enter retirement without a team to lean on. It may be uncomfortable, but it is crucial to have a skilled, experienced team to talk to. Otherwise, you run a great risk of making a big financial mistake at a time when you can least afford to make a mistake.
Money is a powerful tool. Unfortunately, once it is spent it is gone. I haven’t found a way to unwind spending mistakes and missteps. The money is gone.
The biggest reason I made mistakes is because I had no idea what I wanted to do. The only thing that resonated with me was I did not want to work. I had no plan. I didn’t know how to not work. I was so busy working I hadn’t ever thought about the things that make my heart sing, stir my soul or excite me. I hadn’t decided to give myself permission to enjoy life.
No financial formulas, rules of thumb or investment principles helped. That’s the mathematics of retirement. What I am talking about is different. To take the time to reflect. To examine my the philosophy, beliefs and drivers around retirement. Uncover the motivations behind my desire to retire.
Like I said before, I retired three times and I learned something about myself each time. Each time I thought I was better prepared. Yet I still struggled choosing what I wanted. I struggled to give myself permission to live and be happy without the need to be working. I know, it is weird.
I struggled with the idea that I could retire. When it came time to stop working, it was easy for the first month or so. But then I would either begin to feel lonely or the itch to build a business would begin again. It did not help that at the time, all my friends were still working. They thought I was nuts.
I tried to entertain myself. The women in my life had very different ideas of what it meant to not work. They could not cope, accept or deal with me not working. They did not know how to deal with a man that wasn’t working. Granted I was antsy and way outside of my comfort zone, so it wasn't all their fault.
My partners also had anxiety about money. I had a very strong belief and confidence that I could make money. Anytime, anywhere. They had a fear of living poor, not being able to make ends meet. I had a deep conviction that I could make money. We had an obvious conflict in values. A conflict in how we saw the world and how we wanted to live. I wished I had taken the time and invested some money in getting professional support. Most important, take some time to rest before retiring. Rest before you make a choice to rest from your work forever. Pause before you make your final decision to retire.
When asked, I recommend people take a long hiatus from work before retiring. To take a long vacation before actually pulling the trigger to retire. Get away from work for an extended period if you are able. The longer the better.
Retirement is not the end of life. All your life you’ve worked for money. In retirement you choose to stop working and allow your money to work for you.
It is an opportunity to relax and enjoy a new way of living. Before you know how much you will need to actually retire, you will need to know what you are going to spend your money on.
With a well-funded and planned retirement your choices are virtually endless. You can indulge that travel whim, launch a second act business or catch up with family. Retirement is not the worst thing you can do with your money. It is definitely not the end! In fact, it is a new beginning. A new way of relating with yourself, your spouse/partner and with life itself.
What if you could retire and actually have more fun and enjoyment of life than while you were working? It could be as simple as making a few adjustments. Pausing to reflect might bring you clarity. By doing some planning, deep contentment might be just around the corner.
This is the time to give yourself permission to dream again and allow yourself to enjoy life, love and laughter. Enjoy life like a madman and be silly and playful, like a kid again. It is mission possible. You can choose to be happy. You can allow yourself to enjoy life in retirement. Go out there and have some fun before you retire to test your retirement assumptions.
Get ready to enjoy life in retirement!