116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Home / Business
No, you're not the only soon-to-be retiree who's reluctant to leave your working days behind.
What we do is so tied up in who we are that it can be difficult to picture yourself without a set schedule and somewhere we “are supposed to be” — a 9-to-5 job — even if part of that new picture involves a beachfront condo or daily tee times.
While some people can easily picture carefree days and endless possibilities, you might be staring at a blank calendar concerned you will be lost without meetings, deadlines and tasks that fill you with purpose.
Understanding who you are and what is important is critical when taking the next step in your life.
Answering these questions will help you start to fill in those blanks and become more comfortable with what retirement means to you.
1. What does my ideal week look like?
Grab a calendar or a sheet of paper and divide every day of the week into three sections — morning, afternoon and evening. Then put at least one activity in every box.
These don't have to be bucket list items.
Start small. Schedule a post-breakfast walk on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.
Reserve some afternoon time for reading. Find out when your retired friends are free and book a weekly dinner or some time on the tennis court.
The important thing is to get something down on paper, to start the process and some momentum in your planning.
Your daily boxes eventually are going to fill up faster than you might expect. Even better, because you've put these items on a schedule, you'll be much more likely to go out and do them.
Retirees who spend their days on the couch taking a passive mindset of "I'll get to that" often have difficulty in finding a constructive path to their freedom and happiness.
The more intentional you are with your time, the more successful your retirement is likely to be.
2. What have I observed about other retirees?
Although the classic image of retirement is a life of financial security and leisure, many of us have seen a less positive side of retirement as well.
If your parents started arguing more once dad retired or if one of your newly retired friends is having money issues or concerns, you may worry your own retirement is going to be less of an extended vacation and more of an endless worry.
Take a piece of paper and divide it in half. On one side, write down all the things you've learned from others you consider successful retirees.
How do these people spend their time? Did they stay in the family home or move someplace new?
What are their relationships like? What hobbies do they enjoy?
How have they strengthened their connections to their communities?
On the other side of the paper, write down the things you've observed from people who have struggled with the transition to retirement.
How would you describe their mindsets and emotions? Do they seem intellectually stimulated?
Are they in good health? Do they get the support they need from their social networks?
When you've finished with your lists, you should have a clearer picture of what kinds of attitudes and habits you want to incorporate into your own retirement and some potential pitfalls to avoid.
3. What's really important to me?
Work provides an opportunity for a person to engage socially and mentally on an ongoing basis.
Many love the way their jobs allow them to put their skills to good use, the opportunities for creativity and self-expression, the feeling that they're contributing to society and the bonds they build with other people.
They also appreciate how their hard work provides a happier and more fulfilling life for them and the people they love the most.
Make a list of all the ways your career has brought out the best in you and allowed you to put your values in action.
Then add in the people you want to spend your time with in retirement, the places you want to go and the things you want to do.
Look over your complete list and you'll start making some surprising connections that could lead you to some exciting new endeavors — family vacations, volunteer opportunities, talents you want to develop into hobbies or skills you may want to use to mentor others or even create a new business.
Being proactive by picturing retirement along with the opportunities and challenges that come with it will allow you a smoother transition into the next chapter of your life.
It also can create an exciting aspect to your current situation by having something specific to look forward to regardless of when you take the next step.
Pete Alepra is a financial adviser at RBC Wealth Management in Cedar Rapids; email@example.com. The opinions in this article are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. RBC Wealth Management is a division of RBC Capital Markets, a member NYSE, FINRA and SIPC.