By Rico Dilello
Having worked as a financial advisor, my main focus in retirement planning was building a sizable nest egg for clients’ to enjoy their golden years. However, no one prepares you for the shock of getting up in the morning with no place to go. Technology has extended the average work week well beyond 9 to 5, so you have been traveling at 100 miles an hour at work and now have come to a dead stop in retirement. What do you do with all that extra time?
Step One: Avoid the retirement shock, start to plan ahead
There is more to life than your work. Most of your work friends will slowly disappear once you retire. Having a social network outside of your work place is a key to a pleasurable retirement. A common mistake is not developing a balanced lifestyle before you retire. (All work and no play!)
Here are just a few networking opportunities to explore prior to retirement:
- Over 55 sports leagues, baseball, basketball, hockey …..
- Racket, curling and golf clubs
- Bowling & dart leagues
- Church groups
- Alumni groups – high school, college and sport teams
- Being a scout leader for boys or girls
A member at my golf club didn’t start to play golf until 62 years of age. He is getting tired of winning the most honest golfer award. (A prize for the worse score)
If you don’t have any hobbies yet, I suggest that you plan to get some before you retire. Sitting on a beach under an umbrella drinking margaritas sounds great but you will get bored after a while. You may not have the time right now but many schools and community centres offer adult learning classes. A friend of mine took a class on how to fix small engines. It is never too late to learn something new and it might just keep your brain from turning to mush.
Step Two: Retirement is a life changing event, prepare to change
Married couples have to adjust to being together 24 /7 which can add stress to your relationship. It’s a good idea for couples to have different hobbies and interests. Spending some time apart makes for more interesting dinner conversations. For example, I like to golf and my wife enjoys genealogy.
Household chores can be a thorny issue. Sharing or dividing these tasks will depend on your individual skill levels. My wife does most of the cooking but I will do most of grocery shopping and together we maintain the lawn & gardens. I recommend scheduling your household chores to be done during a weekday, save your nights and weekends for socializing.
Avoid becoming a couch potato, it is a sure way to shorten your retirement years. A regular exercise program should be part of your everyday routine. You don’t have to go to the gym and lift weights to stay fit. There are many simple ways to keep active; walking, cycling and swimming, just to name a few. If you have a partner, find something that you both enjoy doing, having someone to workout with can help you get off the couch.
Step Three: Take on new challenges
Learn to play a musical instrument, speak a second language or better yet give back to the community. There are many fine organizations that are in desperate need for volunteers. You have a wealth of experience, professional expertise and invaluable personal wisdom that shouldn’t go to waste. You have a lot to offer, find things that you are passionate about.
In my case, playing football was a strong positive influence in my life. In honour of all my coaches, I spent six wonderful years coaching kid’s football.
When people ask me what I do all day, I tell them; “I am so busy in retirement that I was surprised I found the time to work”! Remember, variety is the spice of life.
By Rico Dilello