If you’re still working full time, you might find yourself experiencing a touch of envy when you get together with retired friends. They always seem so relaxed and happy, while you’re still spending 40-50 hours a week with your nose to the workplace grindstone. Your friends will also probably tell you how “busy” they are in retirement – busier than ever, in fact. They’ll wonder aloud how they ever had time to work a regular job and still get everything done.
This recent article on the US News website looks at this phenomenon and asks a probing question: “Is Your Retirement Fulfilling, or Just Busy?” If you’re already retired, we think this article will give you a fresh and helpful perspective on how you spend your time. And if you’re looking ahead to retirement, the US News piece might just cause you to start planning differently.
Retirement expert Dave Hughes, author of the article, writes, “After you retire and you no longer have to go into work every day, it seems like everything else expands, multiplies and rushes in to consume the time you used to work. You may wonder how you ever had time to work and still get everything else done.” But after a while, Hughes says, your perspective starts to change. “A sense of discontentment may emerge,” he writes. “You will begin to wonder if this is all there is.” In other words, after a year or two of the new routine, “Something seems to be missing.”
What’s missing, says Hughes, is a sense of fulfillment. All those days of leisure and relaxation that you worked decades to achieve are fun and therapeutic at first, but ultimately they can become unrewarding and unfulfilling. “Human nature is such that we aren’t meant to be fulfilled by constant pleasure,” says Hughes. “You still need to feel like you have a purpose in your life. Pleasure is fun (but) fulfillment is rewarding.” In short, if you’re approaching that point in your retirement where purpose seems to be lacking, it may be time to rearrange your priorities and find the sense of fulfillment you’ve been missing.
Fortunately, retirement can offer people the best chance they’ve ever had to pursue activities that lead to a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Some people worked in careers they found personally fulfilling and rewarding, but for many others their work life was anything but fulfilling. But no matter: retirement is time for a clean slate. And the possibilities are limitless. “Fulfillment,” writes Hughes, “may come from expressing your thoughts by writing or speaking. It may come from expressing your creativity through art or music.” Volunteering, traveling, hiking, reading, socializing – all represent activities that can add a sense of satisfaction to your life. You might be one of the fortunate few who found their careers so rewarding they were able to keep volunteering in their career field after retirement, like one man we know who retired after decades in the yearbook industry and now volunteers as a yearbook advisor with a small urban high school. The search for fulfillment is unique to each individual.
As you search, here’s one important caution: don’t confuse “fulfilling” with “productive.” According to Hughes, “After you retire, it may be difficult to reprogram yourself to believe that you don’t always have to be productive. Activities that bring you fulfillment don’t have to be productive. They can be, but that’s not required.” This may require a significant change in the mindset you developed and nurtured during all those years of working for a living. But as we said, retirement is a clean slate – what better time for you to examine all the things that keep you busy and make the decision to stop doing some things, start doing other, and seek a sense of purpose in your life? “The greatest gift that retirement offers,” Hughes writes, “is the freedom to live life on your terms.”
Here at AgingOptions, we are dedicated to helping retirees do just that – live life on their own terms, free from the worries that plague so many people as they get older. But you’ve heard us say this before: you simply can’t achieve this kind of retirement without planning for it. If it’s your goal to protect your assets in retirement, avoid becoming a burden to your loved ones, and escape the fate of being institutionalized against your wishes, you need to start now to plan for the rest of your life. In short, you need a LifePlan – a comprehensive retirement plan that encompasses your financial protection, your legal affairs, your housing choices, your medical insurance coverage, even communication with your family. If you’ll work with us to create and follow a well-crafted LifePlan, the odds of fulfilling your retirement dreams increase exponentially.
Why not take the next step, invest just a few hours and find out more? We offer free LifePlanning Seminars at locations throughout the region. You can click here for information about upcoming seminars and also register online for the seminar of your choice. Or if you prefer, call us during the week and we’ll assist you in registration. You can have a fulfilling and genuinely satisfying retirement, if you plan for it! It will be our pleasure to help you do just that.
(originally reported at http://money.usnews.com)