We invite you to enter an on-line discussion of some of the topics discussed in the new book “Shaping a Life of Significance for Retirement” (R. Jack Hansen and Jerry P. Haas, Upper Room Books, 2010.) The book addresses some of the personal transitions, opportunities, and challenges we face as we move from full-time career pursuit to whatever follows (full retirement, part-time work, etc.) It is based on the insights gained from interviewing retired professionals from around the country. Each week a brief introduction to one chapter of the book will be given, along with one or more questions that we invite you to share your insights on. Should you want to read the book during this time as well, it is available from the Upper Room website or through Amazon.com.Week 1: Introduction to the Personal Side of RetirementMost resources available to assist us in planning for retirement address such financial questions as "how much is enough," how secure is my private pension or Social Security," etc. Very few resources are available to assist one in anticipating, planning for, and living through the more personal dimensions of this life transition (matters such as the impacts on family relationships, friendships, our feelings of self-worth, and intellectual and spiritual growth.) The book "Shaping a life of Significance for Retirement" focuses on these more personal facets of preparing for and entering retirement. The insights offered are based on the wisdom shared by retired professional men and women from around the country. This blog will follow the outline of this book and draw upon questions posed at the end of each chapter. We will pose one question for your reflection and response each week.
Our discussion question for this first week is as follows: As you look forward to retirement, or based on your own experience if already retired, how would you rank the importance of the following items for a fulfilling retirement life? Can you explain your choice of the item you rank as most important?
I rank these issues in descending order of importance as:
(1) Health – without it, life is more difficult than you anticipate, aside from the extra costs involved with poor health
(2) Sense of purpose – For many people identity has become intertwined with employment. “I am what I do” becomes confused with “I am what I get paid for on my performance appraisal.” That’s a recipe for status-seeking, and resulting retirement depression. No one is going to stroke your ego or pay you a bonus for cleaning out your garage. Get some hobbies, develop some interests, broaden your horizons!
(3) Relationships – Essential. But don’t use them as an excuse to whine about your ill health/loss of purpose to those who are still working. Nobody wants to listen to a list of your personal issues, especially when they’d love to have the free time that retirees enjoy. On one forum I visited, one working Boomer complained that a retiree friend was ‘always gloating’ over retiring early and she found herself resenting it mightily – as she should, if they were truly using it as a put-down.
(4) Adequate finances – Either you have them or you don’t. If you haven’t learned after five or six decades to plan for the unexpected, no amount of good advice from anyone is going to push you to prepare properly. No matter what, your legal docs should be put in order. And you need to KEEP them in order as life-changing events (birth, death, marriage, divorce, change of employment or change in health) happen not only to you, but to your heirs. Make sure your Executor or Trustee knows where to find your important papers!
(5) Desirable community to live – Although we are happy with our home and neighborhood, we have plans to investigate the local senior community housing scene so that we know ahead of time what our options might be when the time comes to leave here.
I'm glad to have found this discussion. I am newly retired (semi-retired) and have been surprised by the personal aspects of retirement that I never considered. I do feel I need to work through several aspects so I'm going to play out the various exercises.
1. Health - I am a nurse and I see what happens to people's lives when they do not enjoy good health. Poor health affects all other aspects of life including finances, relationships, and personal interest in all aspects of life.
2. Sense of purpose - This is the one that caught me by surprise when I stopped my full-time employment. I have always felt a strong sense of purpose and responsibility at my place of employment. Interestingly, since retirement 3+ months ago, I have been lucky enough to be invited to work Per Diem in my old job and I have observed some interesting differences in the full-time vs the Per Diem mindset. My personal sense of purpose may seem the same but my actual responsibilities are different and I am, therefore, treated differently in some minor ways and I do see differences in myself. I am lucky enough to have a comfortable environment in which I can "wean" from that which was imagined and strengthen that which was real. I'm sure this will give me greater strength in my personal life where I need to clarify the values I hold with respect to volunteering, earning money, fulfilling personal aspirations, the Bucket List, and hobbies.
3. Relationships (family and friends) - This is a core that turns up again and again as I begin to reflect on my life. I grew up in a small family with a father that was rarely home because he was in the Navy and often deployed overseas for long periods of time. I did find that I gravitated to the larger families of friends where I felt great comfort. I had a small family of my own and believed that when the nest was empty that would be it but I'm finding that my grandchildren and larger family afforded by inlaws affords a similar comfort and important information for enjoying life.
4. Desirable community in which to live - I rate this one last perhaps out of ignorance. I live in Manhattan. I moved here at the age of 18 and have never seriously considered living anyplace else. I stay here not only because of the convenience and services but also it affords a strong sense of safety in organized numbers. Although we don't know each other we would help each other in times of trouble. So, a desirable community is very important to me but I feel if I needed to I could adjust to another community, as long as it wasn't drug infested and dangerous.
jkom51 - Thanks for mentioning the need to put those "important papers" in order. I have semi-organized files in three different places and so many years have passed that if anyone actually needed to know all details it would not be easy. I need to address this as a priority item.
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