They say practice makes perfect. What is practicing retirement, why should you do it and when should you start?
A small percentage of people are prepared for their transition into retirement, and those who have done any planning have focused mostly on the financial aspects. Financial security, while important, is but one of the key elements of a fulfilling retirement. When talking with retirees and those about to retire, we urge them to assess where they are in their life today and to develop a holistic life plan for their retirement years.
Let’s assume you have thought about the activities you’re looking forward to pursuing when you have more time. You have developed a retirement life plan. The next question to ask yourself is, “How can I bring those passions into my life today, even before I’ve retired?”
Doing so is what we mean by practicing retirement. Here are a few examples:
- If you plan to become a bridge master in retirement, find one more night per month to play.
— If you plan to travel more in retirement, start a vacation-of-the-month club. This doesn’t mean taking an extravagant trip each month — rather, plan a day trip or stay overnight at a nearby bed-and-breakfast.
— If you plan to start a business in retirement, begin researching so you can hit the ground running when you do retire.
— If you plan to volunteer more, find one small project to do for a local community organization.
— If you plan to teach, approach a local community college about visiting a class to share your experiences.
There are a number of reasons for practicing retirement and for bringing your retirement passions into your life early.
1. If you begin practicing your retirement while you’re still working, you will be able to determine if your choices are good ones. If it turns out that you really aren’t as passionate about something as you thought you’d be, you can modify your plan before you retire.
2. Advisors consistently tell us that they can help their clients develop a better financial plan when clients have a clear picture of what they want to do in retirement. Therefore, practicing your retirement helps solidify your plan and creates a foundation for a more meaningful conversation with your advisor.
3. It is not uncommon for prospective retirees to avoid having crucial conversations about their retirement plans with those closest to them. Practicing retirement can be a catalyst to begin those conversations well before you actually retire.
4. Perhaps the most compelling reason is that once you’ve identified your passions and pursuits, it’s possible to make those experiences a part of your life now. After all, these are the things that really excite you about your future. Why not enjoy them as much as you can as soon as you can?
So we return to the question, “When should I start practicing retirement?” The answer is, “Start now!”
Create your written bucket list — and then start pursuing those goals, experiences and adventures. Bring the passions of your plan into your life. Why wait?
About the Authors
Co-authors Alan Spector and Keith Lawrence wrote Your Retirement Quest: 10 Secrets for Creating and Living a Fulfilling Retirement based on a decade of research and interviews with more than 200 retirees. Alan Spector is the retired Director of Worldwide Quality Assurance for the Procter & Gamble Company, author of four books, and a management/quality assurance consultant for companies and nonprofits. Keith Lawrence is the retired Director of Human Resources for the Procter & Gamble Company and Founder and President of Sustaining Success Solutions, consulting with major companies worldwide. They co-founded LifeScape Solutions™ to conduct retirement life planning seminars for prospective and current clients of financial advisors; experienced employees of companies; and the faculty, staff and alumni of universities.
The 10 key elements described in Your Retirement Quest can be a guide to getting started when it comes to practicing retirement. For more about their book, Your Retirement Quest, go to www.YourRetirementQuest.com.
Join the retirement conversation by becoming a member of the Facebook group “Your Retirement Quest.”
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