When I think about retirement, the notion of working really hard until you’re 65 and then retiring and just relaxing (doing crossword puzzles, watching TV, or sitting on your porch) isn’t only outdated, it’s not really that healthy in the long run.
I believe a more realistic, and ultimately fulfilling, approach to retirement is to think of it as a time where you’re not required to work as much, as long, or as hard as you may have during your prime earning years, but you’re either still working part-time, engaged in your community, or pursuing one of your hobbies or passions.
While work may not be a requirement for that sense of fulfillment, what’s essential is having a reason to get up in the morning – something you’re passionate about: whether it’s taking care of a loved one, a hobby, or regularly spending time with a group of friends who are important to you.
If you’re in your 40s and primarily focused on your career or raising kids, the idea of laying the groundwork for retirement (other than the financial part) may not be on your radar yet, but if you’re in your 50s, now’s the time to start imagining what “retirement“ looks like.
Some questions to consider
- Do you want to stay in the house you’re living in or downsize? Some of us imagine keeping the family house to hold big gatherings or provide a place for visiting relatives. Others realize that a smaller place is less expensive and requires much less maintenance.
- Will you continue to live where you are now? Many Californians consider moving to a less expensive area. While this may make sense financially, your friends and social network are even more important as you age. If you move to a new location, give yourself time to integrate into a new community and build relationships.
- Do you want to continue working either part-time or volunteering? You may find that a reduced work schedule, whether paid or not, gives you both a sense of purpose and people to connect with regularly
- How will you spend your time in retirement? Do you have hobbies you love that you don’t have time for now? What’s meaningful to you? Besides a sense of purpose and connection, most people I talk with want to give something back as they age. Balancing your own desires with helping others can ultimately lead to a greater level of satisfaction.