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Planning your retirement means recognizing some lifestyle changes and finding a purpose

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Let’s face it, working isn’t just about getting a paycheck so the end of working isn’t just about your retirement savings.  Yet it is often what we focus on the most.  Retirement is a major transition.  One transition is from having a work life to having a lot of off time. One quote goes, “Some people spend more time planning a two-week vacation than they do their retirement.”  It’s not enough to know whether or not you’ll have the funds to retire, you must also have the plans to retire.  It’s not enough to plan to spend time with your hobbies if it turns out you’re bored with them fairly early on.  Few people actually take their hobbies to the next level and create new businesses or opportunities for themselves so if that is your plan, you need to know that you’re really that gung ho about your hobby that you could honestly work it into your everyday experience and not become bored with it. Some people compensate by just doing more of the same.  For instance, a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey found that the average person 65 and over who was working spent 2.8 hours per day watching television.  Their non-working counterparts spent 4.4 hours watching television.  Reading, socializing, relaxing and other leisure activities increased in similar amounts.  While people might fantasize about what retirement will be like, most people go on auto pilot for at least a while until something shocks them into changing their behavior.  The benefit of work is that it provides structure and balance and many of us rely upon it to provide us with a sense of purpose.  Non work on the other hand, often eliminates that sense of purpose.  If you choose to completely eliminate work from your life once you’ve retired, you’ll need to develop that sense of purpose or you’ll run the risk of frittering your retirement away on things you’ll later regret.

For those people who are married, that additional time with nothing planned can create irritation and frustration with a partner who is suddenly always there.  Planning your retirement isn’t limited to planning your travel itinerary together, you’ll need to plan around household chores and what you’ll do together and apart.  Perhaps you think the list of honey-do projects or odd jobs around the house will keep you going for years but unless those are areas you already enjoy, spending your leisure time doing them won’t suddenly make you happy and you may discover you’d rather pay a professional to do those tasks than spend time working on them.  Keeping busy is work.  Once you’ve retired from work, applying yourself to this or that little project isn’t likely to keep you engaged or happy.  There’s a lot of time in a waking day.  Around 16 hours are left after sleeping for eight.  That’s a lot of time trying to find meaningful things to do.  If you don’t plan what you’re going to do with those hours you’re going to drive both you and your spouse nuts.  Somewhat contrarily, you should both plan for what you will do when the other is no longer a part of your life.  Far too often people plan as a couple and then struggle as a survivor.

You may need to move.  You bought the house or rented the apartment because it was close to the school your children attended, close to work, close to the mall but is it close to what is important to you now that you don’t work, is it too big, too expensive or too far away from friends and social activities?

Those are just some of the things you should consider before you retire.  If you think of your retirement as a decades-long break from the everyday work a day world, you’ll realize this is the one period in your life you can’t just fly by the seat of your pants.  If you’ve always been a procrastinator, consider hiring a professional to help you figure out what you’ll do for the next two, three or more decades before you make the mistake of retiring without a plan.This is an ideal time to create a LifePlan.  Unlike an estate plan, a LifePlan will help you look at the housing aspects of this new frontier but it will also look at helping you assess and create a plan that incorporates your health, finances, legal and family options as part of a whole life plan.  If you are interested in a LifePlan, consider coming to a free seminar and see how this kind of planning will help your retirement years be richer and more fulfilling.

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