Meeting new people and hearing their retirement stories is always so interesting. I took a trip to Minneapolis during one of the coldest weather spells in decades. It was a balmy negative 12 when I left the hotel to meet a financial advisor who is also a health savings account expert. Eric and I had worked together on a project but had never met in person. So, we took the opportunity to have a “meet and greet” when I was in town.
We had a terrific conversation, ranging from our kids to our careers. Eric is just shy of being a Boomer, but he has a number of clients who are leading-edge boomers. He shared a story about a client who had been working as hard in his mid-60’s as he had been in his 30’s. “Jim” was as a successful senior corporate executive working long hours at a demanding job. He loved it.
Eric began one of their meetings by asking Jim about his plans for retirement. Before Jim could utter a single word, his wife jumped in. She made it clear that she wanted Jim to retire so that they could spend more time together and really enjoy their later years. She had already retired and filled her days with the things she loved to do, especially spending more with family and friends. Jim looked uncomfortable. He really wasn’t sure how to answer questions about his plans for retirement.
To take the pressure off, Eric took a step back to ask Jim a key boomer retirement question. He said, “Jim, let me ask you a different question: How do you want to live? Rather than thinking about this thing called “retirement”, can you think about what you really want to be doing and how you want to live? Once you can answer that question, then we can work through the financial side of your life, including how long you want to work.”
Jim replied that he had not thought about what he wanted or how he wanted to live now that he was older. He was in such a comfortable routine, was good at what he did, and was happy with his life that he had never taken any time to think about other options.
Eric recommended that he take some time to research other things he might be interested in pursuing and encouraged his wife to give Jim the time to figure out what he wanted to do in the next few decades. There were several more discussions over the next couple of years. Jim spent a lot of time researching his various options. He approached his plan for retirement much like he would tackle a new business opportunity: conduct research, put a test plan together, pilot new ideas, assess risks and opportunities, and make a “go-no go” decision.
In the end, Jim did end up partially retiring this past fall. His research and personal analysis showed that he rather liked working and did not want to give it up entirely. So, he became a consultant in the industry where he already had some 40 years of experience. He is now enjoying the balance and flexibility of his new schedule. As importantly, his wife likes having him around more and is happy that he still has his hands in the work she knows he enjoys.
By taking the time he needed to answer how he wanted to live, Jim found the transition path to his retirement years a successful journey.
Do you have an answer to “how do you want to live?”
Where to find information on key boomer retirement questions:
- Search on Amazon.com for “retirement living” for a good selection of books to get you started
- Google “planning for retirement living” or “retirement lifestyle planning” for a host of articles and information about creating your lifestyle in retirement