December 9, 2013

Retirement's Urgent Needs: What Are They?



Have you noticed how many web sites or blogs use some sort of sensational headline to grab your attention? Sort of like the one above? With somewhere around 450 million blogs (many not active or only sporadically used) sometimes word play is required to break through the clutter.

I will offer a calmer, somewhat counter-intuitive answer to the question posed by the headline: What are retirement's urgent needs? My answer is: none. That's right, there are no retirement urgent needs. 

That is the whole point of building a satisfying retirement. When you get to the point where retirement is a viable option there should be no urgent needs. Now, that obviously doesn't mean you won't encounter problems, needed adjustments to your goals or lifestyle. But, to claim there are five or seven or whatever number of things you must do or your retirement will crash and burn, is simply untrue.

Let me explain my rational. In order to consider retirement I am going to assume the following:

  • You have looked closely at your investments and sources of income, savings, and a projected budget. You have reduced any debts to the lowest amount you can. You have at least 6 months of emergency cash available if you should need it. You believe you can make it all work. 

  • You have done the best you can to plan for health care costs. That includes health insurance, long-term care plans, and some of the emergency fund money from above for a major medical expense. You are holding up your end of the equation with plenty of exercise and a healthy diet.

  • You have worked on the effect of your retirement on your key relationships. If married, you and your spouse have talked about the effect of you being home 24/7. If single, you have talked with your friends or other family members to advise them of your plans and enlist their (non- financial) help if needed.

  • You know what you are retiring to. That means you have some interest or passions (or several) that will keep you active and engaged. While it is almost guaranteed that those interests and passions will change over time, you are not entering retirement with no idea how you will fill your day with productive and interesting activities.

If you can check off these four areas, then your retirement has no urgent needs. As I have written many times before, retirement is simply the transition to the next stage of your life. Retirement isn't the end of anything. It is not a destination. It is just a step forward into something different, just a fascinating part of your journey.

If you have urgent needs, then you aren't ready for a satisfying retirement. If you have any choice in the matter, then don't retire when these needs are still in play.

Life is a collection of needs, wants, problems, solutions, adventures, disappointments, and successes. That doesn't stop when you retire, but there is no reason to add urgency to the list.



18 comments:

  1. So true, Bob. These are the things that need to be in place prior to retirement. This practical approach is what draws me to this blog. Your last paragraph sums everything up for me. Urgency and busy-ness are two words I can do without for the most part.

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    1. Usually urgency is an emotion or mindset that is unnecessary. It saps our energy and distracts us from the life we want to live.

      Thanks, Mona.

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  2. AH...self-imposed emergencies and urgencies (sp?)... I dealt with them so often at work - other people's "emergencies" and "this is URGENT". (If the boss wants to make it important, that's different). But once I retired I removed all that from my personal life and I also removed the word "worry". It does no good to worry all the time. Or even say it. The 24/7 question has turned out to be very important but I didn't realize it until after I retired and that was about 2 or 3 years into it. Money, health, and time..even for those who seem to be on top of it, they have those concerns, too. I told a lot of folks, I'm not "rocking chair" retired. I just don't have to go into the office any longer. While in the U.S. Navy, I lived in Italy for three years and I've sort of taken the Italian approach to problems,... domani, domani..

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    1. The Dalai Lama said it well: “If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it's not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”

      Amen!

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    2. A school secretary had the following post behind her desk: Do not let your lack of planning create an emergency for me.

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  3. Today's post reminds me of how I felt when I graduated from high school and college. I wasn't anxious. I wasn't making detailed lists of steps to avoid disaster...I was looking forward to a new adventure! I want to re-capture that spirit of excitement, the thought that "I'm as ready as I'll ever be" the confidence I had when graduating that I would enjoy what was coming for my retirement!

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    1. I spent too many hours during the first 2-3 years of my retirement worried...worries about all that might happen or not happen. Guess what....none of the worries came true.

      The stuff I never worried about, like the collapse of the banking system and housing price free falls in 2007-2008 where things I never really thought about and so never worried. THOSE were the things that happened. And, I dealt with them. It was too late to worry!

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  4. Great post! All so true! It's funny, but on Sunday nights I still occasionally get a little of that feeling of dread. It's as if my gut needs to catch up with my brain. I'm retired! No need to worry about Monday morning! Once I remind myself of this, I'm fine. And in fact I look forward to the activities I have planned for the week.

    Prior to retirement I explored each of these areas, and probably worried more than I needed to about some of them. But these efforts paid off in the long run, and have prepared me for this next exciting chapter in my life.

    I so appreciate your blog and your perspective as a successful retiree. And I bet there are MANY who read regularly and appreciate you, but perhaps just are not commenting. So on behalf of all your regular readers, thank you!

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    1. I appreciate your comment and support Carole.

      Yes, Monday is now my favorite day of the week, though when I was working it was certainly not. I always got a stomach ache on Sunday afternoon as I looked forward to a week of stress and problems. Now, not so much.

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  5. Love the Dalai Lama comment! I have never heard that one and as a "recovering worrier & perfectionist" I'm planning on writing that saying in lots of places around my home. I also find myself automatically worrying & saying that I'm struggling & overbooked & then remember......oh, no....I'm not! I GET to choose what I'm doing. I'm breaking 40 year old habits......it's getting easier. I agree with you, Bob. Monday is getting to be one of my favorite days of the week; Sunday night used to be very stressful; now I just enjoy football.

    I have to admit, however, even though I enjoy all the holiday projects, I will need to re-evaluate this time of year. The "infrastructure" of my life is suffering as I enjoy all the outside projects & I have taken a step away from a more serene life. The avalanche you commented on in your last post currently resembles my dining room table & all the horizontal surfaces in my home; THAT may be the only urgent need I have right now. I suspect there are still pieces of furniture underneath the holiday debris.

    The wonderful part of all this is I chose to make the mess, I choose to clean it up at my own speed & I get to choose every moment what I do. THAT is priceless!

    Thanks for sharing. Have a great holiday!

    pam

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    1. Betty is in the midst of rebuilding her office space after our daughter moved out. That means lots of piles. She is also in the midst of putting together a photo book, working on a big project for church, and putting together some new stuff for the RV. Like you, she makes the mess and cleans it up (or doesn't clean it up) at her own speed. It makes me a little twitchy but I try to not worry.

      When the AZ Cardinals are winning I watch football on Sundays. When they aren't, I don't!

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    1. There is a short comment from a woman enjoying Hawaii at the moment.

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  7. As usual, a very good post. I believe you have captured the essense of a stress-free retirement. It does not take away all worries or concerns, but helps one to put them into a better perspective. And as you said, if one feels they cannot check off these items with confidence, they are perhaps not yet ready for retirement. There is no shame in that, just as there isn't in retiring; some are just not ready, whether emotionally, financially, or whatever the case may be. Have a great day, Bob.

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    1. Over the three plus years of this blog I have learned there are some folks who will never retire...by choice, and that is absolutely OK. At this stage of our lives we must give ourselves permission to do what satisfies and fulfills us. If that means retirement, great. If not now, or ever, also great if it your choice. Just make the decision without feeling a sense of urgency or worry.

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  8. I find that your topics are so timely. It is the end of the year and I am feeling anxious about the finances for the future. Life is fine now but what about next year, the year after?? I have done enough planning and organization of my life so that I can enjoy this phase. As you point out,life will continue to happen and I will continue to face the issues and problems as they come as I always have. But for now it is a bright sunny day and I am going for a walk. Have a great day

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    1. I hadn't really thought about the timing of this post, Marianne, but you are right: this is the time of the year when the idea of a clean slate for the next year pops into our head, complete with all the uncertainty that comes with that change.

      I am leaving to have lunch with my almost 90 year old dad and then see my grandkids. Life is good.

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  9. The bane of the pessimist...self imposed problems. I've never been able to figure out if they're born that way or something happens in their life that turns them toward the negative drama. I'm grateful it bypassed me.
    b

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