October 15, 2015

The Real Truth About Retirement Living

You have just retired. Or, you are a few years away from leaving your present job. You have searched the Internet and read countless articles on what to expect. Some advise you to save 30% of your income for the next 5 years..can that be right?. Several experts have told you retiring is no longer possible. A few advise you to move to Costa Rica or Mexico and live on $700 a month.

Untruth Warning!


The reality is that retirement living is not much different from non-retirement living. I wrote the Satisfying Retirement Blog for over 5 years which produced a rather extensive primer on most retirement subjects. If you are a new reader, or new to retirement, please take some time to browse through the archives for posts that might help you. 

With the transition to a Satisfying Journey I have expanded my subject matter a bit, but what retirement is all about and how to live it to its fullest is still my passion.

I think you will come to the conclusion that living a retirement lifestyle that is happy and fulfilling takes some planning, some adjustments, and some creativity on your part. But, doesn't life before retirement require the same stuff? 

I'm afriad too many web sites, blogs, and experts attempt to tell you this part of your life is fraught with troubles and pitfalls. You are facing a daunting journey that only the strong survive.  Your financial future is grim. The message is almost: Retirement, only the beginning of your problems.


Not True!


Let me give you a few glimpses of what I have found retirement is really like. I've been on this journey for over 14 years so I have probably faced several of the questions and issues that concern you. I have gone through the death of both my parents. I have survived the collapse of my business. I have had a heart attack. It may have been minor, but trust me, it hurt and was very scary.I have downsized, then downsized again. I have lost my passion and direction more than once. 

Yet, even with all that, this phase of my life has been the most fulfilling, exciting, growth-filled, and satisfying of any part of my 66 years on earth so far. I have freedoms I could have only dreamed about while working and traveling 100,000 miles a year. My creative life has become more satisfying. I have written two books and host this blog.  I have a marriage that is so much better than before I retired. I am financially weathering everything the world can throw at me.

Retirement is not what it was for your parents or grandparents. That is absolutely true. The world and how it operates have likely changed forever. But, the exciting news is that so have we. I don't know a single retirement age man or woman who wants to spend 5 hours a day, every day, on a golf course, or sitting in an easy chair watching TV. I don't know anyone anticipating retirement who believe that their welfare is so secured by their former employer or the government that they will have zero financial worries in the future. 

Retirement is an outdated word that can't possibly capture all of the opportunities and options you face. It implies you will no longer work. That is not true. Even if you never start receiving a paycheck again, or reap the rewards of your own business or enterprise, you will work....at something you love.

Retirement implies your active days are over. Not true, unless you choose to live like that. I contend your most active days, both physically and mentally, can lie ahead.

Retirement implies you will slowly fade away or become a burden to others. That can happen, and it does to too many of us. But, for most, that isn't necessarily your fate. Even if it is, that is years in the future. Why wouldn't you push yourself to live fully until you can't? Why worry about what may happen in the future, or let that worry confine you now? Plan for your future needs and try to lessen the impact on your loved ones. But, for heavens sake, don't let it paralyze you now.

My relationships are much better. The stress my lifestyle imposed on my family when I was traveling continuously for almost 20 years should have been enough to tear my family apart. Due to the patience and forgiveness my wife possessed we made it through that phase. Now, things are so much better because we have time for each other. Sure there are arguments. There are days when each of us would rather the other person took a long walk off a short pier. But, rather than linger and fester like during my working days, we blow up, figure it out, patch it up, and move on. That can't happen when one partner is gone 200 days a year.

Our move to be within a few minutes of our grandkids has paid off tremendously. Now, my in-laws are moving from almost an hour away to virtually around the corner from us. Soon, they will be able to enjoy the same closeness with their grandkids that we do.

I found my passion. I was a man with no hobbies and no real interests outside of my work. I dabbled in things, but mainly to fill the time. Retirement has given me the time and opportunities to try different things. The pieces finally fell into place about 5 years ago. Writing and volunteering with a prison ministry organization give me what I have been lacking: a passion and a real purpose. Since then I  have moved on to try other things but too often the day isn't long enough for all I want to accomplish. I never felt that way (in a positive sense) while working.

Retirement is very much what you make it. Of course your finances, family situation, health, and other factors will impact you. But, again I stress, they  affected you before retirement, too. This is your time. This is your opportunity. This is your life. Build it and live it full throttle.

Enjoy a very satisfying journey.


18 comments:

  1. I like your positive outlook on retirement. I retired early at 52 (55 now) when I could financially afford it.

    I feel that retirement is about the freedom to do what you want and are able to do. It is about being in control of your own time and life. If you love to work, you can keep working. If you love to travel, you can travel. If you want to try new hobbies, you can do that.

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    1. You are right: freedom and the ability to make mid-course adjustments is what makes retirement so special. Like you, I retired at 52 (my wife was 47) and we have never regretted the decision.

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  2. Retirement is when you stop living at work and begin working at living.

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  3. A quote from you: "The reality is that retirement living is not much different from non-retirement living."
    To me, that about sums it all up. I am living my retirement years the same way I was living my pre-retirement years. Yes, I have downsized and carefully watch how I spend my money BUT realistically, my life is just about the same as it always was. Happy before. And happy and content now. Maybe more expansive in the hobby department (photography) and travel (RVing) simply because I now have more time, but my enjoyment factor is still the same.
    Great post today, Bob.
    Thanks for writing.

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    1. Thank you, Cindi. Retirement doesn't really change who you are, just what parts of you are allowed to grow or change. It is likely a happy, content person remains so after retirement, while an unhappy crabby person probably gets worse with more time to contemplate all that is wrong.

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  4. Great post, Bob. I appreciate your candor. I just retired, at 72, in June of this year. We moved from Northern Cal to Southern Oregon and we love it. But, must admit I'm still getting used to everyday seeming like it's Saturday - projects, projects, projects.
    But, I love having time for all of them. But, it's not been all work. We get away for 'stay-cations" two or three times a month. We love rivers and lakes and Oregon has a lot of them - we can be at our favorite, "Lake of the Woods" - 5,500 ft - in 45 minutes. And I've got time for practicing my guitar, working out and attending yoga classes a couple a times a week. However, sometimes I miss the intellectual stimulation of working - but not the rest of it. I feel more like myself being retired. Keep up the great work, Bob.

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    1. Thanks, Ed. My wife and I love Oregon and spend time there when we can.

      I get my intellectual stimulation from writing and reading. Now, if I can only find a good discussion group......!

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  5. I feel we are living more fully now than ever before Dave retired. It feels very close to a stress free life. What more can you ask for?
    b

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  6. This article is spoken straight from your heart. This is why you have so many followers, a reader can really feel YOU! Retired 10 years, although my wife still teaches public school kindergarten, everyday is a pleasure to be on the green side of the grass. Thank you for communicating to so many with beautifully written thoughts.

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    1. I appreciate your comments and thoughts very much, Jack.

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  7. Another great post! It is coming up on 3 years of retirement for me. Yesterday we had our annual "check-up" with our financial planner, and all is well.

    For me, the biggest adjustment was psychological. Intellectually I knew the financial numbers and trusted our advisor, but my gut had a hard time believing that financially we were more than OK. The first couple of years we showed great restraint on spending, especially for travel and "extras". After 2 years of having significant money left over in our budget, we have finally started to let loose, and are traveling more and worrying less! We are headed to NYC end of October to be part of a celebration of my brother running in the NYC marathon. We have several trips planned for next year, and will continue to spend the winter in Florida.

    I tried to anticipate how I would spend my days in retirement; some of it was accurate, but there have been some pleasant surprises along the way. A few months ago I started playing the piano again, after a very long hiatus. What joy this brings me! My rusty skills improved much faster that I expected.

    I can't wait to see what the future holds for us! I regret it took me a couple of years to get my psychological bearings regarding the financial piece, but grateful for the enlightenment that time has brought.

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    1. I had the same financial concerns early on. I kept telling myself this couldn't possibly work, that I had overlooked something critical. But, over time, like you, I accepted that it would be OK and allowed myself to enjoy life instead of worrying about it.

      Your story is a nice addition to this discussion. Thanks, Carole.

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  8. You're an inspiration to all of us, and you are so right -- it's all about relationships and a real reason for getting up in the morning.

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    1. Sunday is our family day each week where we all gather at my house to watch football, play games, and eat dinner together. It is a special time that is worth its weight in gold.

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  9. I am 62 and in my second month of retirement. A real beginner! My first couple of weeks I started each day with an exhaustive "to do" list. I wanted to be certain I didn't become lazy and also needed to create structure. I am already finding a satisfying rhythm to my days. I feel so free and happy; I walk, I read, I am learning Tai Chi.....on and on. In short I am reconnecting with what is meaningful for me.

    I do have financial concerns. They mostly arise when I listen to people who talk about the millions you need to be successfully retired. I personally never had millions so I believe I will be just fine living on what I have and in relaxed and simple way.

    I visit your blog often but this is my first comment.......you have helped me out with your wisdom; thank you!

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    1. Thanks so much for your first comment! Your initial approach to retirement and financial concerns are completely normal, as are your feelings of freedom and excitement with what my come.

      And, no, you don't need millions to retire.

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