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It’s Never too Early to Plan for Retirement

Daydreaming about retirement is a pastime that almost everyone has engaged in at one time or another. Whether it’s visions of sandy beaches, green fairways, sailboats, or just some hard-earned peace and quiet, retirement is something almost all of us aspire to.

But what about those anecdotes we always hear, like about retirees fighting with their spouses? Getting bored with all their free time? Or feeling crazed and overly busy with all their newfound volunteer activities?

Is it even possible to achieve the retirement of our dreams? Of course! Here are four essential tips for setting you and your family up for a smooth transition into a contented, fulfilling retirement:

Plan Early and Often

Just as your career in health care required careful planning and consideration (where to apply to school, which internships would be best, how to advance within the field), a successful retirement also calls for careful planning. Do you want to have loads of free time, or do you prefer to be busy with hobbies or non-paid work? Would you like to continue volunteering in the same field you worked in, or become an expert at something else? Do you like to take classes? Engage in physical activities? Do you want to get involved with social groups and/or religious organizations? 

The opportunities in retirement are endless, so for the best chance at a smooth transition, try outlining what a happy retirement means to you—well before your actual retirement date—and do a little research. For example, if you’ve always wanted to become a beekeeper, try checking out local classes and resources now to see what’s involved, rather than waiting until your last day of work. 

Talk to the Important People in Your Life

It’s easy to assume that our spouses, children, grandchildren and friends, have the same ideas about our retirement as we do, but that is often not the case. Your kids might have the expectation that, once retired, you will pick up your grandchildren from school more often, or your friends might assume that you can go to lunch or play golf every day. Perhaps your spouse is expecting lots of travel. Whatever the assumptions of the people closest to you, it’s possible that they’re not the same as yours. Check in well ahead of time with questions like: “How are you thinking our life might change once I retire?” and “Do you have any expectations of me once I’m no longer working?” Once you understand their ideas, you can share your own plans, and no one will be caught off guard. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Say “No”

Once word gets out about your impending retirement, you will likely be bombarded with requests: “Would you like to be on the board of my organization?” “We could use a tutor just like you!” “Since you’re going to have all this free time, I thought you’d like to join me on my next endeavor!” While there might be some wonderful opportunities among these requests, it’s also fine to say, “Thanks for thinking of me, but, no.” You want to give yourself time to consider all the options in this phase of life before committing to anything—and that may require getting really good at saying “no.

Stay Flexible

Most of us learn through the course of our lives that flexibility is one of the keys to making it through. Getting married, having children, building a career—these things are rarely exactly what we anticipate they will be. Retirement will likely be no different. It will throw you curveballs and have elements of the unexpected. Remaining flexible about what your retirement is going to look like will be an enormous asset in this next phase of your life.

Article Originally Published on ACOG Career Connection