≡ Menu

What’s Your Plan for Life After Retirement?


Preparing for Life after retirement

For many of us, preparing for retirement is all about the finances. We pay off debt, save, invest, and keep working until our retirement portfolio reaches a certain amount. Hopefully we’ll get there before 65, but finance isn’t the only thing we need to focus on. Having enough to live a comfortable retirement is important, but another key to a happy retirement is to stay active and engaged.

Planning for life after retirement is especially critical for those of us who want to retire early. If you retire in your 40s or 50s, you won’t be satisfied with a relaxed retirement. You are still young and you will have a lot of restless energy. You will most likely feel like you have more to contribute to the world. Playing golf and watching TV all day won’t be enough to keep you happy.

The best thing about retirement is that it frees you to pursue your own interests. I’m reading Daniel Pink’s book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, and it is quite interesting. The book is about what motivates us and how most businesses are using the wrong motivators (carrot and stick aka money and pink slip) to increase productivity. Monetary reward is a good motivator to a certain point, but if your job is creative, then it can actually stifle your productivity. Check out his TED talk below.

Once your basic needs are taken care of then, monetary reward is just a distraction. To stay motivated and more productive at work, Dan said we need these three elements.

  • Autonomy – The need to control your own life.
  • Mastery – The urge to get better at something that matters to us.
  • Purpose – The yearning to be a part of something bigger than just you.

I don’t know if he’s 100% right, but it does correlate to my working experience. In the short term, more money and raises made me work harder, but over the long term, I became less and less interested in the work. Anyway, I think these 3 elements apply to life after retirement as well.

You need to stay motivated and engaged after retirement and it takes planning. With retirement, you already get autonomy for free. You can do pretty much anything you want with your time. Mastery is a bit trickier. Many people put off developing hobbies until after retirement, thinking that they will have more time. However, this might be more difficult than you think. Cultivating an interest in a hobby can take a lot of energy and many retirees aren’t able to do it. If you’re not into golf now, chances are you won’t get into it after retirement. Purpose is also difficult. Volunteering for something that you care about is probably the way to achieve this one.

My Semi Retirement

Let’s take a look at my semi retirement. I’m not working for a corporation anymore, but I’m staying very busy. Being a stay at home dad/blogger is a good balance for me. I get to do whatever I want on my blog (autonomy.) Being a dad is dictated more by Baby RB40, but it’s working well for now because my mom takes care of him a few hours per day.

Being a SAHD/blogger also satisfies the mastery and purpose elements. Every dad wants to be a good dad and it’s a learning process. Blogging is also a learning process. I think I’m getting better, but I still have a lot of room to grow.

Perhaps this’s why I am happier than I have been in a long time. I can sleep through the night and I’m stress free for the most part. Baby RB40 drives me nuts sometime, but we get over it pretty quickly and the feeling doesn’t linger. Of course, blogging is bringing in some income, but at this point I still think of it as a hobby and not a job. Hopefully the money won’t stifle my creativity, but I’ll keep an eye on that front.

life after retirement

It would be great to travel more after retirement

Full Retirement

Once Mrs. RB40 retires (15 years or so,) then we’ll both be fully retired. The kid should be mostly independent by that point so he won’t need us as much. It would be awesome if I can keep blogging until then, but that’s like 5 lifetimes for a blog. Anyway, here is my plan after full retirement at around 55 years old.

  • Take a year off to do a RTW trip.
  • Rest for a while after getting back and then volunteer for term in the Peace Corp. Mrs. RB40 did a tour after she graduated from college and I think she would love to do more.
  • Go live in Thailand and explore Asia until Medicare kicks in. Maybe 3-5 years?
  • I should check with Mrs. RB40 on what she wants to do, but I don’t think she has thought about it much.

As you can see, my plan is a bit sketchy after full retirement. I don’t have a lot of interesting hobbies right now and I probably need to develop a few more in my 40s. I love reading, traveling, and playing video games so that should keep me a somewhat busy. I like playing music and photography, too, and need to cultivate those interests further when I have more time. Higher purpose is something I need to explore more as well.


Of course planning doesn’t mean you’ll be successful at accomplishing all your goals. You’ll meet some goals and put off a bunch of other goals after retirement, but it’s good to think about it a little bit and do some retirement prep work. I know we are all busy, but we should cultivate hobbies and also think about finding a higher purpose during our working life. Once we have more time, then we can devote more time to these things.

What about you? What do you plan to do after retirement? 

The following two tabs change content below.
Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, he hated the corporate BS. He left his engineering career behind to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. At Retire by 40, Joe focuses on financial independence, early retirement, investing, saving, and passive income.

For 2018, Joe plans to diversify his passive income by investing in US heartland real estate through RealtyShares. He has 3 rental units in Portland and he believes the local market is getting overpriced.

Joe highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help every investor analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.
Get update via email:
Sign up to receive new articles via email
We hate spam just as much as you
{ 40 comments… add one }
  • My Financial Independence Journey April 17, 2013, 3:01 am

    I haven’t thought much about what I would do in retirement. There are a number of skills I would like to learn (music and art) that I just don’t have the time to dedicate to now. I’d also like to travel a lot. But outside of that, it’s kind of a question mark.

    • retirebyforty April 17, 2013, 8:25 am

      You should start doing a bit of the art and music now. It takes time to like something. If you wait until retirement, it might not take. 🙂

      • Ban Excuses April 18, 2013, 2:23 am

        I believe the “magic number” most experts agree on is 10,000 hours of practice to become proficient at something.

  • Perry at FinancialFreedomUK April 17, 2013, 3:03 am

    Hi Joe – great post, it’s all too easy to focus on the “how” of early retirement and not spend so much time addressing the “why”. Sure, who wouldn’t want to choose whether they wanted to go into work each morning, but there’s more to it than just freedom – we’ll have 1800 hours extra each year (more if you include commuting), and if we don’t satisfy our other needs, as you say, for Mastery and Purpose, then we’ll have missed the point of FI completely. Autonomy is great, but on it’s own it loses some appeal (probably where the phrase “money can’t buy happiness” comes from)

    I was also getting irritated with people claiming I’d get bored if I didn’t have a job, so wrote a post about it here http://wp.me/p3ceJQ-1J

    • retirebyforty April 17, 2013, 8:27 am

      Thanks for your input. We need to do something to satisfy our curiosity and stay satisfied. I’ll drop by now and see what you wrote.

  • Kurt @ Money Counselor April 17, 2013, 5:42 am

    You wrote the magic words: “The best thing about retirement is that it frees you to pursue your own interests.” As someone who values time and learning above all else, having time to pursue what interests me has been my lifelong goal. And I have this idealistic view that if you’re able to do that (as opposed, say, to putting in long hours in a job you hate at a big software company, just for money 😉 ), you’ll be better off in the long run, certainly mentally and physically but also financially too.

    • retirebyforty April 17, 2013, 8:29 am

      That’s how little kids act before they get to school. We should be able to try whatever we want, but many of us are financially constrained. I think it would be a much better world if more of us are free to pursue our interests.
      What kind of activities are you doing?

  • bill April 17, 2013, 6:19 am

    You’ll plan to live in Asia while your kid is in college?

    • retirebyforty April 17, 2013, 8:31 am

      I’m sure the RTW trip and a term in Peace Corp. will take up almost 4 years.
      He can always come visit us. 🙂 He’ll spend all his time at college anyway. Why do we need to be in the US?
      We’ll see.

      • SavvyFinancialLatina April 17, 2013, 1:49 pm

        LOL I wish my parents thought this way. They are pretty clingy, ironically enough. They thought me to be extremely independent, so I am. But they are a little hurt that I don’t ever “need” them.

  • Michelle April 17, 2013, 7:22 am

    I don’t know what we will do. We have so many crazy ideas and think about this a lot!

    • retirebyforty April 17, 2013, 8:32 am

      Share some of your crazy ideas! Go racing full time? Opening a driving school?

  • Pretired Nick April 17, 2013, 7:56 am

    We have more ideas than we have years left to live so this is going to be a tough one for us. But we do hope to live internationally at least for awhile. I’m a little afraid that once we’re free, we’ll jump from thing to thing and not actually pursue one thing long enough to do it fully. It’ll take some discipline, that’s for sure!

    • retirebyforty April 17, 2013, 8:33 am

      You should share what you want to do on your blog. I would love to see it.

      • Pretired Nick April 17, 2013, 12:32 pm

        Thanks, yeah, it’s definitely one of my draft posts I need to wrap up in between baby naps. (:

  • Jonathan April 17, 2013, 8:47 am

    I would like to travel when I am retired. Traveling full-time does not allow you to cultivate a lot of hobbies in my opinion. I do want to read more. I always enjoy reading. I also enjoy learning. As you get older, it is very important to keep your mind sharp. Finally, I would like to take care of my body, mind and spirit. That means eating well, exercising, doing yoga and meditating more. Check out my site to learn more about meditation.

    • retirebyforty April 17, 2013, 4:03 pm

      Well, I’m thinking about spending a lot of time in one spot. Maybe a month in Belize or something like that. That will give me plento of time to meditate.
      I used to meditate a little and it was great. It help calm me down and relax my mind. Yoga is really good too and it’s easier than meditation.

      • mayanqueen April 20, 2013, 1:16 pm

        Mr. retirebyfifty,
        My humble opinion is not to wait until retirement to do the things you enjoy! Do it now!
        Why wait until retirement? Life is short. When you turn 60 you might not be able to do the thinks you think you will be able to do. Health can change! You can begin your RTW trip now! Do it during your wife’s vacation before baby enters school. As time goes by you will find out that time is never the “right time”, just like planning to have a baby! I had my first one at 21, any regrets? NO. In fact, I am glad that my son looks older then me, I am glad I went water rafting and almost died he-he, I am glad I saw the most beautiful coral reef in Roatan. I am also proud to say that I helped set up the first school in Roatan for the poor. The world needs you now. I say let’s do it now! We could become blind tomorrow, develop alzhimers or some type of cancer. Once again, life is short. Don’t worry about setting up “everything right” for your child… all he needs to learn is about moral values, family values and love.
        You are so smart, begin your plans now and I think many readers will help set up a route for a great trip around the world. Others will appreciate the info, at least I know I will. Don’t forget to include Roatan!

        • retirebyforty April 20, 2013, 3:20 pm

          That’s a great perspective. I don’t think we can take a year off to go RTW. I’m definitely going to take longer trips before our kid starts school though. 3-4 months in Asia would be a ton of fun for us.

          • mayanqueen April 21, 2013, 12:23 pm

            Then I think you already started your trip without even knowing it! Quick visits to places are great too! Then when you retire for sure you will have chosen the destinations where you want to stay longer. Now do more fun activities, do your yoga, pay your debts, play your music,etc. Just don’t put things aside and plan to do that until retirement. That makes me feel that having a baby is a sacrifice and that is not the case, it is a lot easier to move around when the children are young. When they are older it is more difficult because they have classes, games, practices. Pretty much a world of their own and always on the run, carpooling, picking up from school, it is a real work out!
            Please share what places you have been at, perhaps you already wrote an article on that.
            I once saw in one of your articles that you plan to set up a will. Is a living trust the same thing? I did a living trust with the templates that Susan Orman has, do you know if those are “Ok”?
            On my way to my jewelry class! Have a blessed day!

  • John S @ Frugal Rules April 17, 2013, 8:49 am

    “The best thing about retirement is that it frees you to pursue your own interests.” I could not agree more! We look forward to that freedom and want to use it wisely. I know that we want to travel and want to volunteer a lot as well. I also suppose it also depends on how successful our business is and if we continue to run that or sell it.

    • retirebyforty April 17, 2013, 4:04 pm

      What organizations do you want to volunteer with? I need to find a good cause. 🙂

  • Bryan April 17, 2013, 8:58 am

    Traveling is always on people’s lists, but that can’t be all you do. 🙂 I plan on having few rental properties for retirement income. I’ll do most of the maintenance, and lawn up keep myself. This will allow me to be flexible on working hours, but will keep me busy if I get restless or bored. 🙂 If I want to bug out for a month or so, i’ll hire someone else to do it while i’m gone.

    • retirebyforty April 17, 2013, 4:05 pm

      I have been thinking about a B&B or a 4 plex in Hawaii or some other nice location. It would be fun to live in paradise and make a little money on the side. Although B&B might be too much work in retirement.

    • mayanqueen April 20, 2013, 12:43 pm

      Hi Bryan,
      Having rental properties has been my dream but I am afraid of tenants, my brother has multiple properties in New Jersey and he is constantly having court battles with people that don’t want to pay the rent! While the court battle goes on the tenants don’t pay rent! In addition they do as much damage in the property as possible. My brother never has cash on hand either and the time that he spends repairing, traveling and dealing in general with those properties is not something I want to go through during retirement. His original plan was to deal with that mess before retirement and sell them as soon as he reached retirement age, but the market hit the floor…now he is just surviving. I don’t mean to discourage anyone that plans to retire on rentals, just to show you a bit of the reality that many owners go through. After seeing by brother in so much trouble with rentals my main focus has been to pay off our nest and save, save, save. The nest is now paid! Hip, hip hurray! Debt free for 5+ years. Now our plan is to go to Las Vegas and buy a vacation home, not a rental.

  • krantcents April 17, 2013, 9:17 am

    My plan is mostly volunteering and some money making things. I definitely want to travel, but not all the time. I outlined my specific plan in an article called I will never retire!

    • retirebyforty April 17, 2013, 4:06 pm

      I read that one a while back. I’ll have to check it out again.

  • writing2reality April 17, 2013, 11:11 am

    I’m not sure what I will do after I retire, but ideally it will be something revolving around real estate, peer-to-peer lending, and investing in general. Those are personal passions of mine, and even thought I’m not at a point where I am as heavily involved as I might like, I know that the next 15-20 years should hold a lot of growth for me in these areas.

    • retirebyforty April 17, 2013, 4:08 pm

      Good luck distilling those things! It will be fun to see what you come up with. You have plenty of time too.

  • Jason April 17, 2013, 1:01 pm

    I don’t ever allow myself the luxury of thinking about what happens after I FIRE. I used to think about it but it just ends up making me feel horrible that I’m not already there. I get very discouraged and things seem harder.

    Instead, I try to put the “Quest for FIRE” (LOL, I just thought of that) out of my mind completely. I just focus on the numbers, grind out the number of rentals I’ll need to survive, and trust the process. Then, because of years of sacrifice, one bright sun-shiney day, it will occur to me “Oh hey, look at that, I can quit now”, and I will be finally done.

  • SavvyFinancialLatina April 17, 2013, 1:50 pm

    Have no idea what we would do! We are so young, it’s hard to think of FI. Well, I think about it, and then I get sad that we are not there yet.
    We have talked about traveling around the world, and staying in hostels, etc. Coming back and working for ourselves. Don’t really know what that means. Huge question mark???

  • Chris April 18, 2013, 4:43 am

    Mine is fairly simple. I’d like to exercise more, spend more time with my wife who is a SAHM, go visit some worldwide sites like the Great Temple in China and Rome, France, Ireland and Hawaii, not to mention a few places right here in the U.S. Learn another language like Latin or Italian. Perhaps start golfing again.
    So, pretty much everything else that I don’t have time to do right now because I’m busy with helping raise our 4 kiddos and working to save for that future self.

    • retirebyforty April 18, 2013, 11:47 pm

      That’s the problem. Everyone is always so busy these days. There is no time left to relax.

  • nicoleandmaggie April 18, 2013, 10:29 am

    I don’t plan on retiring!

    • retirebyforty April 18, 2013, 11:47 pm

      That’s a good move. 🙂

  • Brick By Brick Investing | Marvin April 18, 2013, 11:52 am

    I plan to work well into my 70s although around 40 I plan to be working for myself and doing what I enjoy.

  • Mike April 18, 2013, 1:47 pm

    For me, it’s continuing to work towards mastering multiple languages and perhaps living in a simple home (or maybe one of those survival earthships). That suits me just fine!

  • bill April 18, 2013, 3:51 pm


  • Squirrelers April 19, 2013, 2:19 pm

    Great to think about this. I’m quite a ways from retirement – voluntary, anyway. I hope to have time to spend with loved ones, travel, and spend my efforts for a cause that I identify as being important to me (where I can help others).

  • William July 16, 2013, 10:47 pm

    I have a lot of plans after my retirement , I plan to spend my crucial days with my family and enjoy every moment with my grandsons.

Leave a Comment