The past ten years of singly or collaboratively leading workshops and seminars on the non-financial challenges and opportunities of retirement has taught me a number of lessons. I have tried to capture these in the following short documents that include: 1) a summary of the concerns expressed by participants in advance of a one-day workshop done for clients of a financial service company, 2) a list of action steps that are sometimes forgotten or ignored when people contemplate retirement decisions, and 3) a summary of participant evaluations of a one-day workshop.
Making Wise and Creative Lifestyle Choices Concerning Retirement
Participant Survey Summary
Most Pressing Challenges You Face Today?
•Achieving a realistic balance between job stress, family life & leisure activities
•Caring for aging parents, current and anticipated
•Staying well, getting physical exercise, being more deliberate about what I eat
•Determining when or whether to retire (both when having enough money is and is not the critical determinant)
•Coordinating one working, one retiring in couples — changing roles (can he cook?)
•Anticipating future health care costs and knowing the options
Two or Three Top Concerns for Next Life Stage?
•Finding meaningful paid or volunteer work that helps me feel productive
•Finding the right balance between togetherness and separateness (for couples)
•Having adequate funds for what I/we want to do
•Staying healthy, dealing with health costs
•Adjusting to having money going out but not coming in (pay check)
•Managing caring for aging parents while sustaining my own hopes and goals
Questions I Hope the Workshop Will Answer or Clarify
•How to come up with a workable plan (that is both imaginative and realistic) for the transition to retirement
•Whether I can develop a vision of the “new retirement” that’s right for me (us)
•Leaning how I can remain productive and socially engaged (contributing)
•Understanding the “big issues” and whether I/we have acknowledged them in planning — getting confirmation
•Learning what resources (books, websites, advisors, guides) are available to me
•Whether there is a good life on the other side of retirement
Steps that Sometimes Get Overlooked
When Facing Decisions about Retirement
Having a coherent and realistic picture of how the next chapter of life might read and accepting the challenge of dreaming a new life. Beware assuming that, somehow, things will just fall into place.
Comparing goals, expectations and how each (if a couple) plans to spend each day in the next phase of their lives — importance of concreteness rather than vague plans.
Understanding the effects of the aging process and what one can do comfortably in the near future compared to later (5, 10, 15, 20 years out). Looking at one’s own parents’ aging for positive or negative cautionary guidelines.
Creating a soft landing by not waiting to retire to try out or field test projected activities, interests, and job prospects for what might come next.
Developing back up plans in case Plan A turns out poorly. Don’t put all your expectation eggs in one basket.
Realizing that ones circle of work-related friends may shrink and that there’s a need to make new friends (who have the time to play and socialize).
Recognizing how one’s decisions regarding retirement may affect family members such as adult children, grandchildren, spouse, parents and so on. Hold a family conference.
Acknowledging that the need to structure one’s days may be an underutilized skill after years in which schedules were dictated by work and family responsibilities.
Considering the need and opportunity to shift gears from running on overdrive to something more like cruising.
Acknowledging that some currently satisfying activities may wane in interest while others loom on the horizon as offering fresh enjoyment. This may include types of volunteer activities.
Exploring and establishing new interests, hobbies, and civic causes that will offer a sense of productivity and ways to meet new people and build a sense of community.
Understanding the implications of choosing among the five major lifestyle options: golden age (typical of the previous generation, — emphasis on rest and relaxation), neo-golden (emphasis on continued development and civic engagement), continued employment (in same field, perhaps as independent consultant), second career (in new field or encore career), portfolio approach (balance of work and play).
Recognizing that the fantasize of retirement as one of having no structure in one’s life is a sure way of becoming bored and anxious, driving one back into the workforce — having “failed at retirement.”
Matching anticipated post-retirement expectations with projected actual income.
Realizing the impact of a serious illness or disability and the need to plan for this contingency (e.g. appropriate housing, distance from supportive relatives, partners knowledge of family unit’s financial situation).
Making Wise and Creative Lifestyle Choices about Retirement
Evaluation, October 15, 2010
1. Thinking about this workshop, overall would you say that it: (numbers in parenthesis, total participants = 23)
Exceeded your expectation (10)
Met your expectations (9)
Fell below your expectations (please comment):
2. Concerning the workshop structure and mix of sessions, would you say it:
Seemed useful and appropriate (16)
Somewhat valuable (3)
Disappointing(please comment): ________________________________________________________________________________
3. Was hearing what fellow participants had to say about their retirement decisions and concerns:
Very enlightening and helpful (16)
Somewhat valuable (3)
Not particularly helpful
4. What about the role of the panel of guest presenters:
Very valuable (12)
5. If offered, would you be interested in attending other workshops or seminars about:
Making the most of the aging process yes no(6 yes)
Understanding retirement trends yes no (7 yes)
Learning to enhance personal wellness yes no (7 yes)
Exploring post-retirement careers yes no (5 yes)
Others you would suggest? Long term care insurance
We welcome additional comments or suggestions (note below or on reverse side).
Wished we had talked about experience of money going out and not coming in.
Great package of materials.
Thank you [workshop sponsor] for bringing us together to share and to learn.
The day was a perfect mix of interaction and listening. It gives me a renewed sense of planning for retirement.
I appreciate all of the work that went into this very enlightening day.
Thank you for sponsoring this seminar. A wealth of thought, through the exchange of ideas, was gained. It is time very well spent.
What a wonderful opportunity!
Great value to me as your client. Thank you! Thank you!
Well organized session — appreciate hearing from others in similar position — Thanks!
Wound up with same moderator for all sessions (2).
If you are able to identify folks who “failed” retirement, I think it would be informative to learn why.
Outstanding workshop. Wish spouse had been here.