Retirement used to be something that old people did when they were over the hill. It was considered the sunset of one's life. With people now living longer, they may actually be retired for as many years as they spent working. No longer viewed as "being put out to pasture", twenty-first century retirees are active, engaged and far from sitting in their rocking chairs. Too bad then than many people are making some common mistakes that will mess up their retirement years.
Are you one of those people?
#1 Focusing only on financial planning.
When people think about retirement planning, their first thoughts are about the financial aspect of retirement. Is this an important part of the planning process? Absolutely. A surprising number of people actually are counting on winning the lottery in order to have enough money to live. So of course we need to consider our financial needs and have a plan to meet them. But finances are not the only important aspect of retirement planning. We also have to consider the other key aspects of our lives such as health and wellness, , leisure activities, our relationship with our partners and our social circle. A critical part of retirement planning helps us answer the question: What does my ideal retirement lifestyle look like?
#2 Not talking to your partner.
Although retirement is a major transition in life, often spouses don't have conversations about their hopes and fears and dreams for this next phase. Sometimes that is because we make assumptions that we know what our partner is thinking. Sometimes it's because we are afraid to have the conversation. When we don't talk to our partner about our retirement lifestyle, we might not realize that we are not at all on the same page. You are imagining travelling the world and your partner is imagining staying close to home and grandchildren. Ongoing conversations with our partner help us to clarify our individual and joint goals and create a plan that works for both of us.
#3 Not testing the waters.
It's not uncommon for people to put off things until their retirement years. We imagine that we will have more time to do the things we want to do. We think that we will travel or take up a hobby or volunteer in the community. But if we don't try these things out prior to retirement, we won't know if they are actually things we will enjoy doing. Test the waters a bit to see what you like. Take a class to see if you take pleasure in painting. If you haven't travelled much, plan a short trip. Volunteer for a day. Sometimes the real life experience of something we imagine we would like to do doesn't quite match up to our expectations. So sample things ahead of time to see what really works for you.
#4 Waiting to plan.
The transition to retirement can take as long as five years, yet most people really don't start actively thinking about and planning until the year before they will leave their job. While your financial planning may have been in the works for many years, there are many other things to consider. If you haven't paid much attention to your finances, get started now. No matter how much time you have before retirement day, it's never too early to start exploring your vision and testing the waters.
#5 Being afraid of the transition.
A large percentage of people report that they do not like their jobs, yet an equally large number of people say that they are afraid of making the transition into retirement, even when they are financially secure. That may come in part from their personal attitudes about aging and retirement. It also likely depends on how actively they have been planning beyond finances. There's nothing to fear in this transition. By this point in our lives, we have already successfully managed a variety of transitions in both our family and professional lives. Take both comfort and confidence that you will handle it just fine.
Laurel Vespi is a Certified Life Coach, award winning author and motivational speaker who helps people awaken to the possibilities in their lives. Learn more at www.stonecirclecoaching.com