Most of us have heard of life coaches. However, many people I’ve spoken with have not heard of a retirement coach. This is not someone who helps you with your finances, but an expert who walks you through what your retirement looks like from a social and relational perspective. Many retirees spend so much time focused on retirement savings and investments, they forget to figure out how they are going to spend their time both as individuals and as a couple. We asked our experts Will Craig and Shelley Weiss Cohen what advice they have for retired couples.
1. Meet Monthly
Craig strongly suggests regular meetings with a defined purpose and agenda. This might sound a little formal but putting something on the calendar will make you more likely to meet and discuss as a couple. Anything you don’t bother to design with forethought and alignment suffers for it. Craig recommends a monthly recurrence at a specific time, including aspirations, priorities, and aspirations. It can feel nerdy or awkward at first, but the benefits of the discipline become apparent fast.
2. Tweak And Tweak Again
If at first you don’t succeed… tweak and tweak again according to Weiss-Cohen. Creating a satisfying retirement requires the use of a few key strategies and fine-tuning them along the way. This works for goals as a couple and an individual.
“My client Pam was frustrated because she wasn’t able to accomplish two of her retirement goals, finding a Tai Chi class and joining a book club. Her strategies for finding these activities were sound, but by making a few minor adjustments such as checking class schedules/online resources regularly and being more flexible with her schedule, these small tweaks resulted in the achievement of those goals,” Weiss-Cohen added.
Just because something doesn’t seem to work the first time, doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Keep it in your tool kit for future reference.
3. Quit Something
Craig puts this interesting question out there: what are you doing as a matter of habit that needs to go away so that you have more space in your life for something new or something you enjoy? It’s easy to identify by asking yourself “What do I have to do that I enjoy the least?” If it’s something major as a time commitment or is deeply embedded in your financial picture, take your time but respect the reality that it is a thorn in your side and deal with it. You can do this as a couple and get each other’s opinions as well. It helps to get another perspective.
4. Plan Ahead
Plan ahead! Yes, this can sound like a broken record. However, Weiss-Cohen says you’d be amazed at how many people find themselves on the cusp of retirement with no clue as to what’s next. Here are three must-do’s to lay a strong foundation for your retirement.
- Have conversations with your partner/yourself about what you want retirement to look like, where you want to live, and activities you want to engage in.
- Assess your financial situation. Determine the kind of lifestyle it will support and make necessary changes to ensure financial stability going forward. This will reduce the likelihood of any unpleasant surprises.
- Be you…retired. Do what you want and don’t compare yourself to other retirees. Make this next chapter a true reflection of who you are and who you want to become.
5. Embrace Change
“Retirement is an opportunity to live your life in new and creative ways and to experiment and be open to new experiences,” Weiss-Cohen says. To navigate these opportunities, you need to be willing to make changes and do things differently than you have in the past. Stepping out of your comfort zone is key to creating a fulfilling retirement. Start by making a list of things you’ve always wanted to do, but didn’t because they were outside your comfort zone. Then one by one, be uncomfortable, take a risk, and do them anyway! Your list of regrets over things not experienced will be that much shorter and your life will be that much richer.
6. End-Of-Life Planning
While this isn’t a fun topic to discuss, it is important. Craig recommends completing your end-of-life planning. It is the greatest gift you can give the next generation, so they have a plan to implement at the time of losing you. The basic four-part checklist is a will (your belongings and money), an advance care plan (your medical wishes), a funeral plan (body disposition and memorial), and discussing those three with your family members.
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