A hammock on the beach. Your favorite chair in the living room. Waking up when you feel like it. A blank calendar. Doing what you want when you want. Doing nothing if that’s how you feel that day.
After a lifetime of working 40 hours every week, this scenario sure sounds appealing to many soon-to-be retirees. But the surprising reality is that a life of unstructured leisure can create stress, strain spousal relationships, and lead to feelings of uselessness and depression.
We always stress to our clients at Keen Wealth that once you stop working, it’s time to start learning the “ART” of retirement: Activity, Relationships, and Time. You have to experiment, try new things, make new connections.
Let’s talk about how mastering your retirement ART will help you create a new daily routine focused on the people and passions that will make your golden years fulfilling.
Jack just retired. He has no idea how to spend his time anymore. So he putters around the house, fixing stuff that isn’t broken, rearranging things that don’t need to be rearranged, watching a lot of TV … and driving his wife, Jill, crazy.
We chuckle when we see a scenario like this play out in a movie or TV show. But Retired Spouse Syndrome is a very real problem. Many senior couples have spent eight hours or more apart from each other every single day for decades. Then, suddenly, they’re together all the time. Whoa.
Often, this is the moment when spouses realize they each have very different ideas about what retirement is going to be like. One spouse might have visions of a hammock in the backyard. The other might have plans to see the world. Somewhere in between those expectations are the activities that are going to make retirement worthwhile for both people.
The things you do in retirement should be meaningful, stimulating, and energizing. Your passions should be your guide to a new routine – both with your spouse, and apart from him or her. Take professional lessons to turn a hobby like golf or painting into a real skill. Volunteer at a charity or nonprofit that’s close to your heart. You and your spouse can indulge your inner foodies with weekly date nights to try out all the new hot spots in town.
Your spouse isn’t the only person you’ll be seeing more often in retirement. Your relationships with the rest of your friends and family are also going to change now that you’re no longer working. This too can be difficult, as many of the people you spent your workdays with recede from your day-to-day routine.
But this can also be a wonderful opportunity to connect with the people who matter the most to you. Once you and your spouse make it through the initial adjustment period, you’ll be able to spend time doing the things that brought you together in the first place. Planning trips and extended vacations around your children and grandchildren will create meaningful experiences that you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life.
Your social calendar also gets a whole lot bigger. Fill it up! Organize your friends for a weekly round of golf. Plan date nights with other retired couples. If there are people you lost touch with due to the grind of working and raising a family, reconnect.
Time without the structure that work provides can be challenging for retirees. The very notion of time can take on new meaning. Without meetings and project deadlines to worry about, time can seem so limitless that it’s overwhelming. It’s like an artist staring at a blank canvas—where do you begin?
So how will you fill your day? Will you start taking an hour to do things that used to take 10 minutes when you were working? Will you sleep later? What new routines will you start?
The good news is many of today’s retirees are more active, more connected to their communities, more adventurous, more ALIVE than they’ve ever been! And they organize their time in retirement around the activities and relationships that make them feel happy and fulfilled.
Perfecting your ART
Retirement is an ART you have to work to perfect. You’ll make mistakes, and you’ll learn from them and adjust. You might load up your schedule with activities, only to find that having a bit less structure allows you to explore your options. You might retire-in-place, and then decide you need a change of scenery. You might find the initial lack of structure maddening, and work on a new routine. You might try a part-time job. You might like it. You might not.
There’s no one way to have a successful retirement. But working with one of my fiduciary advisors at Keen Wealth to refine your ART can help to maximize your retirement picture!
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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