How To Plan For Your Retirement

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That’s right – retirements – plural! Think about it. Are you ready to retire in the traditional sense, or are you just ready for a mid-life change – your FIRST retirement – designed to pursue other careers or interests?

Generally, when we think of retirement planning we think of financial planning. However, have you ever stopped to think about what you are planning for beyond just the number of years you are likely to live? With twenty years or more of productive life ahead, today’s mid-lifer will experience not just one but several “retirements.”

In today’s world, most fifty-somethings resist the concept of traditional retirement. Did you know, however, that the average age of “first” retirement is now about fifty-seven? This means that many of us leave a job before the traditional retirement age of sixty-five but are not yet ready to retire fully. We may be seeking more freedom from set schedules, the time to do something we have always dreamed of, or extra income because we do not feel financially stable enough to completely retire.

For those of us in our fifties and beyond, the role models we have had for retirement may have been parents or grandparents who simply retired at sixty-two or sixty-five; spent a few years keeping house, traveling, or pursuing leisure activities; and then passed on in a few short years. With the prospect of many relatively healthy, and for most of us, financially fit, years in retirement, we need a new way to plan.

We believe there is a prerequisite to developing a financial retirement plan. Call it a retirement life plan or maybe call it a retirement career plan. The “new retirement” planning model can greatly increase your chances of having a successful retirement if you make a retirement life plan first and then make a financial plan or adjust the plan you have already made.

How could you possibly make a financial plan without first knowing how you will be spending – or making – money in your retirement years? It is possible that you will spend as many years in retirement as you did in your career.

Consider these issues:

How do you currently identify with your career or job? For many, the sense of identity derived from their work defines who they are. Are you prepared — or do you even want — to emotionally distance your personal identity from your current occupation?

Are you satisfied with your life? How you feel about your life today is important in determining how you will feel about your life in the future. Successful planning will provide you with the skills to look at your level of satisfaction and make the changes needed to create a more successful life in the future.

Do you feel financially secure? One of the primary reasons people do not pursue a traditional retirement path is the lack of a sound financial base. Have you really thought about what would make you feel financially secure – not just financial solvent – really secure? You cannot determine what financial resources you will need until you have a better understanding of the lifestyle you desire.

What would bring more pleasure to your life? More time with your family? Better health? Travel? Volunteer work? Less stress? Plan to spend the rest of your life doing more of what you want and less of what is expected of you.

Resources are now available to guide you through an assessment and planning process for a successful retirement or mid-life career change. You can learn more about what factors determine a successful retirement and assess your personal readiness for retirement. You can create your own mission statement and develop a plan for the rest of your life – or maybe just for your mid-life career.

The “new retirement” planning model presents an opportunity for a purposeful life-which can bring the same kind of fulfillment that our previous life stages did-or the opportunity to capture the fulfillment missed in earlier life stages. Be ready to enjoy your retirements.

David Cole and Polly Agee are the Co-Founders of the Retirement Readiness Group & Certified Retirement Coaches.

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