My husband joined the ranks of retirees two weeks ago. He has attempted retirement twice before. Each time, he reinvented himself a bit and then went back to work. But the early-rising, early-to-bed has gotten old. And they say the third time’s the charm… And so a new chapter in our lives begins.
Spike’s experience is not unusual. According to Jeri Sadler and Rich Miners in their book Don’t Retire, Rewire, there are several reasons why folks “flunk” retirement:
- Retired for the wrong reasons
- Didn’t take the emotional side of retiring into account
- Didn’t know themselves as well as they thought they did
- Didn’t have a plan
- Expected retirement to evolve on its own
- Thought rest, leisure, and recreation would be enough
- Didn’t stay connected with society
- Expected their partners to be their social lives
- Didn’t appreciate what they’d left behind
- Were overcome with boredom
While I don’t anticipate any of these impediments this time around, I certainly understand why they crop up. Much as we all like to think that mass quantities of free time would be lovely, most of my peers prefer the notion of a meaningful life to a merely recreational one.
To that end, I checked out Ernie Zelinski’s book How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom That You Won’t Get From Your Financial Adviser. Unlike the myriad of books that focus on dollars and cents, Ernie sounds the clarion call for creating a meaningful, active, joy-filled existence. He declares the four fundamentals for personal fulfillment during retirement to be:
- Finding who you truly are
- Recreating your life through personal interests and creative pursuits, possibly through a new part-time career
(Don’t underestimate the power of having an overriding purpose… or several of them. Find ways to build structure and community into your life.)
- Making optimum use of your extra leisure time
(Minimize time spent watching TV or surfing the Internet unless the latter ties to educational pursuits.)
- Maintaining physical, mental, and spiritual well-being
(Eat well. Stay active. Ensure you are constantly growing and learning. Live according to a higher purpose.)
Here are Ernie’s criteria for an ideal leisure pursuit:
- It’s an area (or activity) in which you have genuine interest.
- It’s challenging.
- It has the capacity to provide a sense of accomplishment.
- It is multi-faceted, and, hence, will never bore you.
- It’s an activity for which you can become immersed and lose the sense of time.
- It provides avenues for developing knowledge and skills (including self-knowledge).
- It doesn’t cost much.
Ernie’s book (or one like it) should be required reading alongside the financial planning book. While you need enough money on which to retire, you also need to have some idea of how stay vibrant, connected, and fulfilled while enjoying your newfound freedom.
I’m still working part-time but have had no trouble whatsoever filling up the rest of my time with interesting pursuits. Some stimulate my mind. Some focus on my health. And some are things on my “bucket list” that I’ve always wanted to do. No doubt things will get more interesting as Spike and I consider new possibilities to do together.