It’s the dream retirement many people anticipate for decades. Hanging out around the pool all day. Playing one round of golf after the other. Finally reading that teetering stack of books on the nightstand. In retirement, every day is Saturday – only without the dread about what Monday morning back at the office might bring. But is endless recreation enough to satisfy still-vibrant retirees who have both the health and the mental capacity to continue to learn, explore and contribute to the world?
Maybe not, says Ann Vanderslice president and CEO of Retirement Planning Strategies, which specializes in advising federal workers about their benefits.
“As people near retirement, they have a great opportunity to map out a strategy to create a fulfilling, rewarding rest of their lives,” Vanderslice says. “Studies show that retirees with a plan have the easiest time transitioning into and being the most satisfied in retirement.”
For many people, planning for retirement focuses almost solely on the financial aspect. They worry about saving enough so they don’t run out of money.
But retirement also represents a lifestyle change, as people accustomed to heading to a job each day suddenly find themselves without any meaningful reason for getting out of bed. And all that free time, which seems enticing at first, can quickly become boring.
Vanderslice suggests a few factors to consider for those seeking a more fulfilling retirement:
- To work or not to work. It’s not unusual for people to continue to work in retirement, at least part-time. In some cases, the extra income is needed or at least adds a little more security to the retiree’s financial outlook. But some people simply don’t feel fulfilled if they aren’t contributing something by working. “Often, I hear people say they’ve been working since they were teenagers and the thought of stopping just makes them uncomfortable,” Vanderslice says.
- Volunteer – but volunteer wisely. Plenty of groups need volunteer help, such as charitable organizations, schools, libraries, animal shelters, museums and more. But beware of letting them take advantage of your availability. “You can have your calendar filled before you know what hit you,” Vanderslice says. “Pretty quickly, you may end up feeling like you put in a 40-hour work week.” She recommends taking the time to identify the causes and issues important to you. Make sure the organization is aware of the skills you have to offer so you aren’t just licking envelopes. “And don’t overcommit your schedule,” Vanderslice says. “You do want to leave yourself some time just to kick back.”
- Be a lifelong learner. Retirement can be a great time to take a college class or learn how to play a musical instrument. “It’s proven that those who are lifelong learners have a greater sense of optimism and a lower chance of dementia,” Vanderslice says. “So if you’ve always wanted to learn more about philosophy, wanted to take a cooking class, or to learn a foreign language, now is the time.”
“It’s certainly important to have a financial plan for retirement,” Vanderslice says. “But to truly have a happy and rewarding retirement, you’ll want to make plans for your ideal retirement lifestyle as well.”
About Ann Vanderslice
Ann Vanderslice, president and CEO of Retirement Planning Strategies, helps federal employees understand their benefits, maximize the value of their benefits, and plan for their future, as well as organize income planning and IRA distributions. Vanderslice holds the Registered Financial Consultant designation from the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants and the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor designation from the College for Financial Planning. She is author of “Fedtelligence 2.0 – The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Your Federal Benefits.”