I left my career in corporate America with the gift of early retirement from my long-term employer. I worked for 27 years for America’s retirement company, Fidelity investments, so I thought I knew all about retirement. Until I retired. After experiencing retirement, I went through various emotions, from pure joy to boredom. A former colleague who was also experiencing the roller coaster of retirement and I got curious. We wanted to learn how, when people retire, they recapture a sense of purpose. How do they strike the right balance of work, giving back, family, and fun?
We immersed ourselves in the experiences of people planning for and living in retirement. We heard amazing stories from over 50 people and then tapped into our years of experience in transition planning and career coaching to create The Future of You. Now, we help people find the same sense of fulfillment and purpose as they had throughout their careers while still enjoying all the perks of being retired.
Through the stories we heard, we learned so much, including these three things people are best off learning before they retire.
1. It’s Not Just About The Money
Yes, finances are super important. You need to realize retirement is also about life! It would help if you spent time planning for your retirement life outside of the obvious. Usually, people will say I’m going to travel, play golf, and spend time with the grandkids, which are all great (as well as no alarm clocks!) But in reality, it’s a lot of time to replace the 40+ hours you spent working, commuting, and possibly raising a family. And it’s a significant change to go from 60 miles an hour to zero with an empty calendar.
It would help if you planned how to rebalance your life portfolio. How do you want to replace those hours when you were working? You want to think about the right balance of work, giving back, family, and fun. You can get busy (and let’s face it, there are a lot of closets to clean out), but you should consider how you want to live with purpose. We like to say It’s not how you will fill your time but how you will live your time. It’s one-third of your life. Why would you leave it to chance?
2. You Need To Shed Your Old Skin
Recognize you have long been associated with your career, and your title or role may have been part of your identity. Then all of a sudden, you are labeled a retiree, which is quite ambiguous. Many baby boomers react negatively to the word retirement because it connotes stereotypes. And those stereotypes are outdated. We are a hard-working and career-focused generation, so we must consider how to frame our version of retirement. Many people describe themselves as something they used to be, but what about what you are doing now? We want to change the narrative, so people say things like I’m learning to [insert something meaningful or fun to you], and I am now — or am going to — [insert role or activity]. This needs to connect to your purpose and should give you great joy.
We’ve met people who have transformed in retirement. They’ve used their skills, experiences, and passions to do something unique. They are now artists and writers, involved in local politics, volunteer with organizations that have meaning to them, and so much more. The key is to uncover a passion and then go out and find ways to turn it into your life purpose.
3. Create A Non-Work Network
You need to think about how you will establish connections outside the workforce. This is the perfect time to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. Before leaving the workforce, consider growing your social network, volunteering, or joining clubs. This will ensure a community in place when your work community significantly shifts.
You may have had a few people you worked with who became good friends. Many will be LinkedIn connections but not people you consider close friends or contacts. You may also find friends who are still working at the same job and want to talk to you about the organization and its ups and downs. You might realize you are not interested anymore. Staying connected to your old life may serve you poorly.
You should also get inspired by friendships across generations. Various friends at different points in their lives may provide a sense of life and energy, diverse viewpoints, and more. The key is to connect and ensure that you have a community of people who are with you for this next chapter.
It’s best to plan for your life in retirement before you retire. You need to realize it’s a significant change and a huge transition. Doing these three things will help bolster your life after you leave the rigors of the 9-to-5 behind.
Want more happy, healthy retirement inspiration? Consider