I have been seeing more and more of my friends retire over the last couple of years. As prepared as some thought they were about leaving their work behind, six months or so later, they found themselves struggling with what their version of the next phase of their life and themselves would look like.
Where are you in your “retirement life-cycle”?
What are some of your current reference points?
If you have a significant other, are you starting retirement at the same time?
Will you retire “in stages” or work right up to the “finish line”?
Will retirement be your choice or be driven by others?
Will health be a deciding factor; yours, your partner's or an aging parent?
Have you started to look at consolidating your assets?
Most importantly, have you taken some time and measured thought to define who you are going to be next, particularly if work largely defines who you are now and how you spend a considerable part of your life?
Your first step is to recognize what stage you are at in your retirement life-cycle. Write it down, describing as best you can, where you are and how you are feeling about the next stage in your life.
What do you plan to do with your time? Will it be fulfilling? Will work be part of this next phase of your life. If work of some kind is part of your plan, will it be the same kind of work or something different? Will it be enough to fill the void created by not working or working as much?
What responsibilities are you now taking on or do you expect to assume? Would they include providing care-giving to your partner or an older relative?
Review your notes: refine them and change them as your priorities become clearer and after you have had some time to decompress and take a breath after finishing your career as it used to be. Work with an advisor who is well versed and trained in retirement income planning. That person can provide you with questionnaires and worksheets that can help you capture what’s important and organize it over time. One of the key benefits of using a retirement income planning template to create your retirement income planning playbook, is that no matter what stage you happen to be at as you start this, you use the same step by step process repeatedly.
As simple a step as this first one may seem to be, it does take some time and effort. You need to commit to this process. If you want a better idea of where you want to go in life, even during that first phase when you are bound to be most active; if you want to know how to get there and minimize hiccups, you need to know where you are now.