Planning for retirement is not only important from a financial perspective, but from a psychological perspective as well. Being prepared financially for retirement is critical, but the emotional impact is one that is often overlooked. Moving from a busy career into uncharted territory creates excitement as well as anxiety.

The path to retirement reminds me a little of Dorothy’s walk down the Yellow Brick Road from the classic movie, The Wizard of Oz. Like the Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man that she encounters along the way, as our clients transition to and enjoy retirement; they need the same things that the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion are hoping that the Wizard can grant them brains, heart and courage.

“If I only had a brain…” Don’t worry, retirement does not require you to get a masters or a doctorate, but it does require you to make smart choices. One of these choices is to hire a holistic wealth manager prior to retirement to assist you in determining whether or not you can afford to retire and what retirement will look like. This facet of retirement is the one that gets the most attention, and rightfully so. It includes the financial building blocks that can ease the transition and help you fulfill your retirement dreams.

The non-financial aspects of retirement require both heart and courage. When a person retires, their status quo changes and sometimes dissolves. People often lose their sense of self without even knowing it. The career that they worked so hard at for so many years is now in the past and is no longer the focus of their lives. It often takes time to find a new “normal.” Retirees often find it difficult to find anything sufficiently meaningful to replace their full fledged career. It surprised me to learn that people find it harder to figure out what to do with financial independence than to achieve it in the first place.

The dictionary defines retirement as “a state of being withdrawn from the rest of the world or from a former busy life”; “the act of withdrawal from one’s occupation or business into privacy, seclusion or retreat.” Synonyms for retirement include: confinement, detachment, disintegration, emptiness, escape, exodus, free time, goof-off time, idle hours, isolation, journey, leisure, loneliness, loss, pause, quarantine, quiet, silence, spare time, unemployment, vacation, vanishing, wasteland and wearing away. If you’re reading this and thinking that retirement doesn’t sound like much fun, remember what I said before, retirement takes courage and heart. It doesn’t mean that you do nothing; it means you now have the opportunity to do anything! With that in mind, you need to plan what your activities in retirement will be so that your retirement doesn’t look like a synonym from a thesaurus!

People want to be productive at any age. So, whatever the reason you’re considering retirement or have retired, voluntarily or involuntarily, achieved retirement age, or let go when your company is acquired, you have an opportunity you may never again be offered. You’re invited to identify what you want to do and you need to find the heart and courage to do it!

Here are a few questions you may want to consider:

  • How can I discover what I really like to do?
  • Would I enjoy volunteering?
  • Are networking clubs worthwhile?
  • What will my second or third act look like?
  • Should I start my own business?

Try taking a multi-layer approach and look for activities that encompass the following:

Intellect – Think!

Look for things that require you to stretch your mental capacity. Taking or teaching a class on a topic that interests you, but you were too busy to do when you were working. Cards, games and puzzles can also be intellectually stimulating.

Physical – Get moving!

Try something that will improve your strength, aerobic capacity, balance and/or flexibility. Most communities and gyms offer a wide range of classes including ballroom dancing, yoga or even Pilates. Many of these classes do not require you to be physically fit to participate, and some are even designed for older adults. Water aerobics is wonderful for all fitness levels and beneficial for those who suffer from arthritis and would otherwise not be able to exercise.

Social – Make friends!

Reach out to old friends that you were too busy to see when you were working, and look at forming new relationships with other retirees.

Creative – Use your imagination!

Put your life story down in words to pass on to future generations. Start a journal of your travels, try new recipes, create a garden, or teach yourself how to draw or paint.

Spiritual – Reach out!

Whether you find spirituality for yourself or contribute to the welfare of others, retirees often report this as deeply beneficial. Donate your time and skills to organizations that are in desperate need of volunteers from every walk of life.

The key to a successful and fulfilling retirement is finding the right blend of relaxation, freedom and purpose to keep you engaged and eager to get out of bed every morning. Retirement won’t always be ruby slippers and trips to the Emerald City. If you don’t plan accordingly you may encounter a few Flying Monkeys or even a Wicked Witch or two. So, as you prepare for retirement or as you enjoy your current retirement; have a plan, focus on the positive and always know that somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue, and the dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true.