Considering Retirement? Think Carefully!

Retirement beckons with promises of golf, fishing, travel, grandchildren, an abundance of time for volunteering, and…enough money to do it all.  Retirement promises the good life.  For some, that’s exactly how it works out, but for others, retirement may bring several unexpected surprises.  
 
Two years ago a friend of mine walked into our bank, and we began a discussion of what people sacrifice upon retirement.  Here’s what my friend had to say.
 
First, we lose our station in life.  Station is not equated with status;  rather, it’s all about our position in life.  Station defines who we are, what we do, where we fit into our respective communities, and how people identify us.  People see us as a fireman, teacher, machinist, or doctor.  Upon retirement, that aspect of our identity, our station, is gone, and others no longer see us in quite the same light.  Are you prepared for that?
 
Second, we lose one of our primary purposes in life.  Sure, we have other worthy purposes like being a good spouse, attentive grandparent, unselfish volunteer, and being true to our spiritual calling.  Make no mistake, however, that work is something to which we commit thirty percent of our lives…or more.  It is why we get up every day when we do.
 
Next, we sacrifice a fair amount of structure when we retire.   Structure may be defined as “a system or organization made up of interrelated parts functioning as an orderly whole.”  So…work is a major contributor to the framework of our lives.  Many people need that structure far more than they realize.  Without it, they drift.  Are you one of them?
 
Fourth, retirement may result in the loss of social opportunities.  Think about it!  We spend eight to ten hours daily chatting with colleagues, clients, students, and vendors.  Some become important friends.  As we consider retirement, we need to think about our social networks.  Will colleagues remain friends once we no longer see them at the office coffee machine?  Will our non-work friends be enough?  For that matter, will they be around as opposed to traveling on their own or babysitting grandchildren?   
 
Last but not least, we lose some degree of our financial strength.  Yes, we may have enough money…at least based on all of those “what if” scenarios.   Unfortunately, scenarios can be wrong, particularly when we encounter extraordinary times like the one we’re in today.  At the very least, retirement impedes our ability to restore our wealth when we do encounter tough economic times.  The “old” retirement planning focused on “having enough.”  The “new” retirement planning focuses on having “more than enough.”
 
There’s a very simple lesson here:  think carefully about retirement before you pull the trigger.  Yes, retirement is exactly what the doctor ordered for most people, but make sure that you’ve considered all of the angles.

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