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.
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?