COPYRIGHT © 2015 by Ernie J. Zelinski
Preparation Is Key
Retirement planning for a meaningful life after your work ends should start as early as possible, particularly if you want to retire early. "Preparation for old age should begin not later than one's teens," declared Arthur E. Morgan. "A life which is empty of purpose until 65 will not suddenly become filled on retirement."
In the event that you are still in the workforce and contemplating retirement, you should be thinking long and hard about the retirement plans you should be making and the problems that may arise when you no longer have the routine, structure, and purpose of working life to rely on.
Coming up with the top-10 retirement activities to keep your busy is essential and perhap harder than the top-10 reasons to retire early.
If you are not presently retired, it's important to spend many pre-retirement days in the act of retirement planning and thinking about what you want to do when you walk out of your workplace for the last time. All too often, people put off things too long. As 71-year-old Florida retiree Howard Salzmann stated, "If you didn't learn how to live before you reach 65, it's very difficult to teach you how to live afterwards."
As part of his research for his book, Breaking the Watch, Joel Savishinsky followed a group of retirees in Shelby, N.Y., for about six years. He discovered that retirees must know themselves, have passions in which to indulge, and be prepared for the unexpected. "They realized there was a lot more to retirement planning than putting together a portfolio," states Savishinsky. "It was more about putting together a life."
Although retiree Pat O'Brien of East Haddam, Connecticut, occasionally misses the stimulation of work, she is as active as she could be. Eighteen months after O'Brien retired from her proofreading job for a law firm in Stamford, Connecticut, she told a U.S. News Reporter, "The biggest surprise is I just don't know where the time goes."
Regardless of the bad press that retirement often gets, many people such as Pat O'Brien don't have trouble filling their days when they retire. O'Brien, 65, is joined in retirement by her husband, Jim, 70. She is active in the local historical society, a church group, a women's exercise club, and the American Legion. "It's been very enjoyable for me," stated Pat.
According to a survey conducted by AIG SunAmerica, the people most likely to enjoy retirement are those who have made retirement plans. This is borne out by the fact that 78 percent of people who prepare for retirement both financially and psychologically view it as "a whole new life" or a "continuation of life as it was."
When happy and successful retirees are asked what advice they would offer to a person just entering retirement, most will respond with a variation of: When it comes to retirement planning, spend as much — or considerably more — time thinking about how you will utilize your days and months as you do contemplating your finances. As one retiree told a newspaper reporter, "Retirement could well represent 25 percent or more of your whole life. Why leave it to chance? A retirement plan is key."
Although virtually everyone needs a modest amount of money for essentials and a few luxuries from time to time, people who spend all their time and energy on building a huge nest egg often forget how to live happily in their working lives. They compromise their health, they neglect their friends, and they don't develop interests outside of work. Once they retire they realize that no amount of money can buy excellent health, great friends, or the ability to enjoy leisure activities. Sadly, they wind up even less happy in retirement than they were in their working lives.
We all know that we have to prepare financially. But we have to prepare psychologically and socially as well. Ironically, too much emphasis on saving for retirement can make us forget what it takes to enjoy retirement. Being satisfied with life as a whole in your working life is your best way to prepare for retirement. In my view, the following ways are essential for you to enjoy your work life and prepare for retirement at the same time
Retirement Planning Tips
- Establish a good work/life balance many years before you retire and zealously maintain it.
- Refrain from working on weekends.
- Maintain optimum health while you are working.
- Be open to learning new things at work and in your personal life.
- Read Barbara Sher’s It’s Only Too Late If You Don’t Start Now: How to Create Your Second Life After 40.
- Have a major life purpose other than your work.
- Develop close friendships removed from your workplace.
- Maintain — i.e. don't neglect — your true friends so that they are still around when you retire.
- Learn how to handle freedom. A good way is to become self-employed for at least a year or two before retirement.
- Accept that money will buy style and comfort, but it won't buy you happiness.
- Spend a lot of time alone while learning how to enjoy solitude.
- Indulge in regular strenuous exercise so that you will be physically fit and able to enjoy retirement activities.
- Take all your paid vacation time so that you learn how to be more leisurely.
- Travel a lot. People who don't get to enjoy travel before retirement seldom develop a liking for it after retirement.
- Don't allow your identity to be tied to your job.
Find many ways to connect with the world.
- Take an unexpected day off work, and ensure that you loaf it all away to experience what it's like to be a member of the leisure class.
- Take a pre-retirement course that deals with the personal issues and not only the financial issues.
Above all, don't put off being happy until you retire. People who have tried this realize that they have waited too long. The ability to be happy before you retire — regardless of your financial circumstances — is the key to having a happy retirement.
Retirement Planning for Japanese Housewives Made Just a Little Easier
In Japan, Yamaha has designed a wooden box that will help Japanese housewives with their retirement plans insofar as how to deal with their husbands when the husbands retire. To be sure, retirement planning is important for housewives who don’t want their husbands in their hair all the time. The box can sit in a corner of the average-sized lounge and contain a husband or relative. MyRoom is 27 square feet, completely soundproofed, and can hold a desk, audio system or hobbyist workbench.
The year 2006 heralds the start of an era that Japanese housewives are dreading due to the lack of variety in the retirement plans of Japanese men claims The Australian. “The first wave of post-war baby boomers turns 60 next year and a huge generation of salarymen will be retiring. Women who have grown used to serenity of days without their noisy,
smoking, hobby-obsessed husbands are now desperate for ways to maintain tranquility."
COPYRIGHT © 2015 by Ernie J. Zelinski
Don't Forget to Include Your Spouse
in Your Retirement Plans
If you aren't presently retired, it's important to spend many pre-retirement days thinking about what you want to do when you walk out of your workplace for the last time. In the event that you are married, it's just as important that you don't forget to include your spouse in your retirement plans.
Whether or not your decision to retire is made jointly or individually may affect your relationship with your spouse when you retire. If your partner continues to work, he or she may feel left out and somewhat resentful, particularly if you didn't consult with him or her before you retire. The dynamics of your relationship may suffer just because you failed to communicate your desire to retire and the reasons behind it. Furthermore, your partner may know more about you than you do, and be able to predict how well you will handle retirement.
Compatibility and the ability to spend a lot of time with your spouse is important because you may be spending a great deal of time together, particularly when both of you are fully retired. The shift in your employment status will influence patterns in how much time you spend together, the types of activities you indulge in together and individually, obligations towards each other, and your plans for the future. Your having an active retirement is important for both of you.
You have to ask yourself, "How do my spouse and I synchronize our lives so that our time together is a lot better in retirement than it was in our working lives?" Should it be the case that your spouse plans to work for a few years after you retire, it's wise to have a retirement plan filled with so many interesting and challenging activities that you won't notice that your wife is still working and you aren't. If your spouse stays in the workforce for another six years, it may be difficult for you to be alone all this time. On the other hand, once your spouse retires, you may find that you actually liked spending time alone, much more than with your spouse. This may wind up being a problem, more to your spouse than you.
Indeed, retirement can create other interesting problems such as the one experienced by Frank E. Douglas III, and his wife, Ana Maria, of Centerville, Ohio. After Mr. Douglas took early retirement at age fifty-six, he suggested to his wife, a professor at Wright State University, that she get rid of the cleaning lady: "It seemed to me like I ought to do it," Mr. Douglas later recalled. "After all, I was going to be home." Unfortunately, it wasn't long before Mr. Douglas discovered that his house cleaning wasn't up to par. "My work didn't meet the manager's standards," he admitted. As is to be expected, to resolve the problem, the couple rehired the housekeeper.
Married retirees must be aware that each spouse's retirement represents an important life event for couples, requiring adjustment on the part of both spouses. The retirement of one spouse has a tendency to affect the other because the amount of time, and how they spend it together and apart, changes significantly. The quality of a relationship for a retired couple also can be affected by the timing of each partner's retirement, health status of each partner, family relationships on either side, and their overall financial status.
Contrary to popular belief, by no means do all retired couples enjoy their time together more than they did when they were working. The fact is, even two people who have enjoyed a successful marriage for three decades can end up driving each other crazy when one or both retire. Not many wives or husbands will be happy with a stay-at-home spouse who spends hoards of time sitting in an easy chair, for all intents and purposes, waiting to die.
There can be a lot of conflict, especially when the husband retires and has little to keep himself occupied. As one retirement planner stated, ''Since they can no longer boss their staff around, some husbands now order their wives around. The wife will think, 'But you are sitting there doing nothing.' This is when friction starts.''
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Being the ''home minister," some women are also irritated when their husbands interfere with their work by trying to help out. The clashes can lead to the men staying out of the house to avoid being nagged and looking for company outside instead.
Barbara Udell, Director of Lifestyle Education at the Florida Pritkin Longevity Center, states, "Before retirement, separateness can be very healthy for togetherness. When a couple is thrown together full-time, an attitude adjustment is needed. Sometimes counseling can be very helpful in assisting the couple with this change in their lives."
A post-retirement lifestyle shouldn't be limited to the retiree spending most of his or her time with their spouse. It's essential that each partner have his/her own interests. Bob Buford, author of a book called Game Plan, points to higher rates of divorce among those who retire too early and find themselves with nothing to occupy their minds or engage their interest.
It's also important that couples give each other the freedom to pursue individual interests. Without the workplace to provide them with something to do, some retired individuals end up being lost souls, following their spouse wherever they go. Not giving their spouse the space and freedom to pursue their own interests can backfire and leave these retirees with even less company and less to do. Not surprisingly, some spouses have been known to go back to work once their retired partners drive them crazy.
The key is to organize your life so that you have time with your spouse and plenty of time to do your own thing. If you are male, your wife is not going to be happy if you rely on her to make you lunch each day while you sit around waiting for things to happen. In the same vein, if you are female, your husband won't relish your following him around everywhere, including the golf course and coffee bar where he meets his male friends to talk about "men things." Without their spouses being present, women should be able to enjoy the companionship of other women and men should be able to enjoy the companionship of other men.
Having your own space at home as well as giving your spouse her own space will be more important than it has ever been. While you were working, you had your own work area that you could call your own. It may have been a big office with several windows or it could have been a small area in a car manufacturing plant, which you could call your own. Especially for traditional couples, in which the husband has been working and the wife has been looking after the house, establishing personal space is essential.
After leaving the White House, Ex-President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn had to adjust to their retirement away from public life. Just as important as having to decide what to do with their time, they had to learn how to share their lives together in a new way and it wasn't always easy. In a telephone interview with Ron Hogan of Amazon.com, Jimmy had this to say regarding their spending time together as a couple:
"Rosalynn and I had never really been in a house together all day, and we didn't know how. We are both very strong-willed people, and we didn't know how to accommodate that constant interrelationship. After several months, we sat down and tried to make an inventory of what we had accumulated in our lifetime of experience and education and contacts and influence, and what we had as opportunities for developing a new life.
"First of all, we've learned to respect each other more. We've also learned how to give each other privacy. I've got an office now that I use at home that used to be a garage, and Rosalynn has got an office in another part of the house that used to be one of our boys' bedrooms. And when we are working on a book or working on paperwork or making telephone calls or doing other things, we really are very respectful of the privacy of the other person.
"And we've worked out a routine that's flexible, so that we know what times of day we want to be together. And usually in the afternoon, when we're home, we go out and play tennis or ride bikes or go jogging or take walks on our farm to get some physical exercise. The things that we do find that we have in common as an interest, we go out of our way to share them with each other."
As the Carters' experience indicates, most couples must adjust to the fact that they will be spending a lot more time together after retirement. Trying to adapt to a life without the structure, sense of community, and personal identity that a job provided can bring up a lot of emotional and psychological issues, not only for the retiree, but also for the spouse. A situation where one person is totally engaged in life and the other isn't will sooner or later lead to relationship problems.
All things considered, couples are urged to figure out what dreams they do and don't have in common and how much time they plan to spend together when one or both retire. Some couples have spent virtually no unstructured time together during their working years, aside from two weeks on vacation every year or so. Once they retire, these couples realize their relationship lacks substance because they've been so devoted to their work over the years. This can present a problem. But it is also an opportunity to carry the relationship to a deeper level as the Carters were able to do.
COPYRIGHT © 2015 by Ernie J. Zelinski