Today, a successful retirement requires much more purposeful planning that accounts for major generational changes in how we work and live. I believe that engineering a modern retirement blueprint starts with four essential building blocks: Health, Family, Purpose, and Comprehensive Financial Planning.
In the first installment of this four-part series, I discussed some new ways for seniors to think about health and longevity.
In part two, I shared three reasons why it’s so important for folks to get their year-end financial planning in order so that they can start the new year strong.
The third part focused on how the pandemic has affected our perspectives on what family really means to us.
The fourth and final building block of retirement is a strong sense of purpose. Regardless of how big their nest eggs are, in one way, most retirees are equally rich: they have an abundance of time. Filling that time with activities that are meaningful and invigorating is essential to a successful retirement. In fact, many studies have shown that retirees who feel they have a strong sense of purpose are generally happier and may even live longer.
Reconnecting with your purpose at the beginning of a new year can also help you set more effective goals and start planning for some major bucket list items you want to check off in the near future. To get started on your revamped, purpose-filled 2021 retirement schedule, answer these three questions.
1. What can you give?
Many retirees experience a real crisis of identity once they stop working. But it's important to remember that your lifetime of skills don't suddenly disappear as you age into your 70s. You might not be working as an engineer anymore, but you still have valuable math and science knowledge, as well as expertise in planning and teamwork. You might not be a CEO anymore, but you still know how to manage complex problems and build effective business plans. And no matter what you did professionally, you have basic reading and writing skills that many folks in need -- including adults -- don't have.
According to the latest report from Nielsen, the average 65-year-old watches more than 7 hours of TV every day. Would you rather spend your retirement on the couch or building a new consulting firm? Tutoring adults who are trying to earn their GEDs? Mentoring the next generation of young professionals? Or even donating your richness of time by pitching in at your church or a local nonprofit?
2. How do you want to grow?
In addition to finding new uses for your current skills, think about new skills, hobbies, and ideas you'd like to pursue in retirement. What's the subject you always wish you'd studied in college? What recreational activities did you and your spouse never have time to try when you were both working? What's the weekend hobby you always wished you could focus on full time? What fitness or financial goals could you start working towards?
Early in retirement, I'd recommend giving your mind a chance to wander around a little bit. Take some online classes. Try a new sport. Check out a pile of books from the library. Eventually, you'll settle on a couple key interests that you'll want to dig into deeper.
That's when it's time to put some real planning in place. Maybe you decide that you want to start earning a new professional certification or degree. Maybe you start training for a half-marathon. Maybe you want to try running your own company now that you’re no longer working for someone else.
Setting these kinds of specific, actionable goals is much more purposeful than making a vague New Year's resolution like "I want to be healthier" or "I want to read more." When you can visualize a new version of yourself who has accomplished something meaningful in 6-12 months, you can work backwards and put daily steps in place that will give your days more structure and help you build towards that goal.
3. What do you love to do?
Over the course of this four-part blog series, you've probably noticed that the building blocks of Health, Family, Purpose, and Comprehensive Financial Planning are all interconnected. Answering this final question is really where everything comes together. The activities that give you purpose will also be things that you love doing. You're not going to feel motivated to get off the couch and exercise if you're not looking forward to your morning run or an afternoon round of golf. Spending more time with the people you love the most can make every single day fulfilling.
The financial plans that we work on with our clients are designed to strengthen these connections between your passions, your longevity, your friends and family, and your goals for the future. Whether you want to break new ground in 2021 or add some new designs to your existing blueprint, let’s talk after the holidays about how we can help you plan for your best year yet.
Bill Keen is a CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠ and independent financial advisor with more than 25 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he specializes in providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.
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