5 Tips to Re-Create Retirement

While previous generations looked forward to retiring with secure pensions, beach views, and peace of mind, many of us today have a much different picture of life after retirement.

Retirement used to be about a time to relax and take it easy. If you think about retirement 30 to 40 years ago, people worked until the age of 65 and then, statistically, died at age 70-72. Retirement was a very short life stage and typically people retired because they were simply getting too old to work. Many retirees back then retired into “old age”.

With longer life expectancy and the age of retirement no longer being attached to 65, the possibility of living in retirement for 35 plus years is realistic.

We simply want and need more from retirement today than people in the past generally did.

The retiree today is “younger”, healthier, fitter and sharper than any generation before. As a result, retirement isn’t just about not working anymore. It’s about living life with intention and the health to support the life one desires. It’s about staying active and having fun. Today’s retiree is not only younger in body but also younger in mind and spirit!

Here are some new ideas to consider if you are transitioning into retirement.

5 Things To Consider to Re-Create Retirement

1)      Expand Retirement Planning Beyond Financial Planning

The questions most people consider before retirement are “How much money will I need” and “What happens if I haven’t saved enough?”. While financial security is certainly critical and these are important questions to explore, people need more than money for a successful and satisfying retirement.

Too few people consider the psychological adjustments that accompany this life stage, which can include coping with the loss of career identity, replacing social networks built into work, spending more time than ever before with a spouse/partner (if you have one) and finding meaningful activities to use time freed up by not working.

People can go through significant struggles when they retire and not say anything about it because of the fear of being judged. Our social expectation is that in retirement you can “live the good life”, so any sign of struggle can be seen as failure and create feelings of shame.

This is why it’s so important for people to invest as much if not more time into exploring their personal needs and maintaining and/or building a social networks as they retire and discover what makes them happy beyond the security of having enough money.

2)      Understand that retirement is a process

Retirement is not like jumping into a swimming pool when one moment your standing dry on the diving board and the next moment you’re submerged in water. It’s a process of transition and it takes time. There are different stages to go through and the more they are understood and accepted as normal and natural, the simpler the transition is. These are the most typical stages of retirement.

  • Pre-retirement planning
  • The last day of work. This is a short phase in terms of the actual change in external circumstances, but working through the possible feeling of loss and grief can be extended for years if not acknowledged.
  • The Vacation Phase; freedom  to plan own time, the newness, focus on fun, minimal structure and/or obligations
  • Disenchantment Phase; an uncomfortable feeling that arises with lacking purpose and meaning. An underlying or highlighted question of “Is this all there is?”. A recognition that there’s little satisfaction in lazing around without having a balance of contribution and someone expecting something from you.
  • Re-Creation – finding your own, authentic way of being in the world based on what’s most important to you, your passions, your authentic personality (which may have been covered up by your work identity), and your personal gifts. This is typically the most difficult stage.
  • The New Routine – at this stage there is a comfortable balance of work and play, peace with what is and a confidence that ongoing life changes can be navigated with skill and acceptance.
3)      Be Very Mindful and Intentional in the Re-Creation Stage

The Re-Creation Stage of retirement is the most important stage to pay attention to in order  to have a healthy and satisfying rest of your life. Some people put no effort or thought in recreating their life in retirement and may stay stuck in the disenchantment stage for many years. Re-Creation is not a stage that someone gets through simply with the passage of time.

The most important things to do in the Re-Creation Stage are to clarify your personal values, determine what really brings you happiness, and make a plan to move towards your desired future.

4)      Adopt a Healthy Mindset Towards Aging

A healthy mindset of accepting aging as a normal and natural process of being human balanced with taking personal responsibility for one’s own physical, mental and spiritual health is important. There are many things we can do to maintain our health for as long as possible by making good choices and there are many things that we have no control over. Being mindful of this can be the difference between inner peace and inner turmoil.

Things like eating whole, natural food and being active on a daily basis become even more important as we age.

Most people think that being healthy only applies to physical wellness. As we age, mental health is just as important. In retirement, it’s even more important to be intention with maintaining mental wellness as the mental exercise that is typically built into work can no longer be taken for granted. It’s critical to so something everyday to nourish and expand your brain function.

5)      Expand Your Definition of Work

Work is not just an exchange of time and effort for money.

Work is something that also allows us to contribute to society in some way by using our skills, experience, labour and knowledge. Work builds in “positive pressure” that encourages us to accomplish and achieve something meaningful. When a person leaves the workforce, they still have this need to contribute and share their gifts.

If we take money out of the equation altogether, the possibility of what is included in work becomes wide open. A person can work on their health (mental, spiritual, emotional). A person can work on developing new skills, new knowledge, and a new perspective. And of course there’s always volunteering.

The point is, retirement does not equate with never working again. Work is important and fills many needs beyond a pay cheque. The desire to work after retirement is not a failed retirement…it is retirement re-created.

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