How To Enjoy Life After Retirement (Even When It’s 10+ Years Away)
How do you enjoy life after retirement? For many of us, the mere thought of retirement brings up more fears than pleasures.
Because there’s a problem. Not enough people are having honest conversations about what it means to retire, how it feels and how you can shape your retirement in a myriad of different ways to find the right path for you.
So instead, you’re left with the fear.
The fear of the unknown. The fear of boredom. The fear of becoming a burden. The fear of loneliness. The fear of growing old. The fear of a lack of fulfilment.
And the big one. The fear of not having enough money to fund what are supposed to be the “golden years” of your life.
There are some things you can’t control as you age. But there are also plenty of things you can.
Why you might want to plan how to enjoy life after retirement early
One of the biggest challenges with planning an enjoyable retirement is that we don’t talk about it until we’re in it.
We count down those days until that magical first day when we don’t have to work anymore. But we rarely think past that.
What happens next?
By the time we realise that we’re not enjoying our retirement, it can feel like too big of a mountain to climb. Everyone dreams of the day they retire, so you’re left feeling ashamed that you’re not loving it the way you thought you would.
This is why we need to plan for retirement early.
Sure, you might not be retiring for 10, 15, maybe even 20 years. But it’s never too early to have these discussions with yourself and find some clarity. In fact, a long lead-up is one of the best gifts you can give your retired future self.
You’re able to plan your finances accordingly and save for the lifestyle you want to have. You can consider what you actually want from your retirement and even “road test” some ideas before you begin. And, perhaps most importantly, you have the time to process your fears and feel more prepared for your future.
Facing your fears around retirement
The biggest fear (yes, it’s time for some money talk)
Before we dive into the money talk, let me make one thing clear. I’m not a financial advisor, so please do consult with a professional when planning your retirement. However, these are some of the things I thought about when planning my retirement.
For me, it meant removing any high-interest debt that won’t be suited to my new lifestyle. Whilst contributing to financial tools that will be, like medical insurance, emergency saving funds and pension pots.
It’s about removing the things that might be draining my finances unnecessarily and welcoming in the things that’ll help me to feel more financially secure.
The next fear, who are you without your work?
As a business and executive coach this is a concern I hear a lot.
Who are you without your work? How do you feel fulfilled when your career is no longer there? What will you do to fill your time?
Often, we spend so much time and energy crafting our perfect careers that we forget to look at who we are outside of that (one of the many reasons why life-work balance is so important).
So, if you don’t know where to start, follow the money. Yes, those TV detectives were right! Tracing the money is always the easiest place to begin.
Sit down and take a look through your last 6-12 months of bank statements. Do you notice any patterns or trends? Where do most of your funds go?
This is a really simple but effective exercise to use in order to figure out a foundation for your values and what they might look like. Usually, the areas that you spend most of your money on are linked to your personal values.
For example, if you look at your bank statements and you see that a lot of your money is spent on insurance, one of your values may be security or safety.
Once you’re clear on your values, you can look at the things you enjoy that align with those values. And this is the perfect time to test out different activities and start building your own joy list.
What if you don’t want to retire?
It may be that your introspection brings you to the conclusion that retirement isn’t for you. And that’s okay! But do ask yourself why that is. Is it the fear of the unknown? Or is it a genuine desire?
This is your time to be fully honest with yourself. That way, your decision will be 10x easier to accept.
Can you feel fulfilled without your career?
Our modern world has built an incredibly close connection between fulfilment and output.
We get to the end of a long day and feel satisfied with ourselves only if we’ve ticked enough things off our to-do lists, met our productivity targets and gotten enough stuff done.
But what if there was another way?
What if fulfilment = enjoyment?
You see, your fulfilment doesn’t have to be about the things you accomplish each day. Instead, it can be about finding the things you love and doing them (or, at least some of them) each day.
It’s waking up in the morning and knowing you’re living your life for you.
It’s spending time with people who lift you up and add something special to your days.
It’s finding an energy level that feels good.
Maybe you like to push your limits a little in order to feel fulfilled. Maybe you prefer the soft life instead. What’s important is that it’s uniquely you.
Your version of fulfilment might include work. But it also might not.
So use your time ahead of retirement to figure out what fulfilment looks like for you. Your answer won’t find you overnight. Instead, see it more as an experiment, an opportunity to get to know yourself better.
Start with your values (remember, follow the money!) and work your way along from there.
Hint: you’ll find a handy tool at the end of this piece to help you with this.
How this business and executive coach is approaching retirement
I’ve always been a saver. And I think this is due to two of my own values being safety and security.
After much thought and deliberation about my own identity without work, the type of lifestyle I want and how much money I’d need to have for that, I’m currently thinking of not retiring. Instead, I’m looking at “semi-retiring”.
I’ve tried life without work and I was miserable. For me, I know that I will always want to have something to do and crave a challenge of some sort.
I need variety. I love to travel and I feel best when my life is filled with new experiences. Since I have my own business, I have the luxury of creating more than just a life-work balance but a life-work integration.
Of course, I’m still fine-tuning exactly how I want my golden years to look and feel but that’s where I am right now. I hope you can see, it’s about getting to know yourself and finding a path that suits you, your wants and your values.