The Art of Retiring to Something

retire TO not FROM something

Rachel and Renee have been lifelong friends though they no longer live in the same area.  Both have close-knit families and have had successful and fulfilling careers.  They retired within one month of each other and decided to get away for a long weekend to celebrate one year of retirement. 

After careful planning, Rachel and Renee meet at a new hotel in Asbury Park just after the summer season draws to a close.  They are looking forward to enjoying the local flavor, some quiet beach time and just catching up.  As they collapse into the cushy seats on the rooftop bar shortly after their arrival, Rachel marvels at how well Renee looks…and how happy.  Surprised by the observation, Renee exclaims “Well honey! Of course, I’m happy. I’ve got my health. I’ve worked hard my whole life and now I’m doing just what I want with it.  Joe and I are enjoying each other’s company and are planning a few nice vacations each year.  I get time with the kiddies and then I get to give them back! I have my yoga classes, my hiking group and my book club.  And then my work at the hospital.  What more could I want?”

At that, Rachel starts crying. After a glass of champagne and some careful prodding, Renee is able to piece together Rachel’s story. Apparently, retirement has been a very different experience for Rachel thus far.  First, Rachel is feeling lost without her job.  She loved her work, was very successful and is now realizing that much of her fulfillment was derived from it.  Second, although Rachel and Ted have been happily married for well over thirty years, their simultaneous retirements have put quite a strain on their relationship.  Rachel loves Ted and of course, wants to spend quality time with him, but he is always there! She whispers through her tears, “I feel suffocated. And then I feel guilty for feeling suffocated.” Third, as much as Rachel always loved her career, she also prided herself on the fact that her first and favorite job was being a mom.  She loves her family and would do anything for them, so when her daughter, Kathryn asked her to watch the grandchildren, so she can go back to work, she readily agreed. After all, she thought, the only thing better than being a mom, is being a grand mom!  But the days are long, and they are wearing on her. Yet both Rachel and Ted are afraid to even book a vacation, lest they put added pressure on Kathryn and her husband Tom. “I know I should feel lucky.  We are in great shape financially and we both have our health. But honestly, I feel lost. I thought this was going to be such an amazing time but instead, I don’t even know who I am anymore.”

Renee pulls Rachel in for a big hug, and then, with a gleam in her eye, promises: “Rachel, you know what you need?  A Retirement Re-do! We’ll start working on your roadmap this weekend!”  In spite of herself, Rachel smirked. There is nothing Renee likes more than putting together a plan. Renee added, “It sounds to me like you and Ted planned very well for retirement from the financial perspective but didn’t think much about what life would look like and what you wanted to get out of it.  You retired from your job but didn’t plan to retire to anything. But this can be fixed.  And there’s no time like the present to reset. In fact, when we go back to the room, I’ll pull up the roadmap template that we used.  I’d bet that the next time we do one of these weekends, you’ll be loving retirement too!”

Why was the experience of Renee so different from that of Rachel?

Both of the friends did a great job of planning for their future from a financial perspective.  Although finances is a crucial component of your retirement plan, it is just that: one component. Retirement represents one of the biggest transitions that you will experience in your lifetime and accordingly, requires careful consideration and planning. To ensure your success and wellbeing, you’ll want to create a plan that focuses, not just on the finances, but also on the place, the people, and your pleasures, passion(s) and purpose.  When planning for your retirement, use the retirement roadmap below to ensure not only a financially successful retirement, but a fulfilling one as well.

A Roadmap to Retiring To (Not From) Something

Set Your Retirement Vision

  • What does retirement look like to you?
    • Where would you like to live?
    • How would you like to spend your time?

Determine What brings you Pleasure

  • What routines can you establish to find enjoyment each day? 

Explore Your Passions

  • Do you love to travel? 
    • Do you have a running list of destinations?
  • Do you have any hobbies?
    • Can you pursue them on your own?
    • Can you join a club? 
  • Is there anything that you would like to learn more about? 
    • Can you take a class? 

Pursue Your Purpose

  • What brings you fulfillment?
    • Should you consider a part time job?
    • Would you like to volunteer?
    • Can you share your legacy by helping or mentoring others?

Consider your Social Network

  • Who will you spend your time with?
  • Are there holes in your network without work?
  • How much time do you want to spend with family?
    • Set limits if appropriate
  • Can you expand your network to include people with like interests?

Set a Budget

  • What is your budget for discretionary spending?
    • Can you afford to explore your pleasures, passions and purpose?
    • If need be, prioritize your wish list and get creative

Share Your Vision

  • For married couples, it is so important to talk (frequently) about your retirement lifestyle. Talk in terms of the big picture and drill down to the “every day”  
    • What are your individual visions, and do they match up?  
      • What tweaks can you make so they at least complement each other?
      • Do you need to set boundaries?
    • How will you share responsibilities?
    • How will you spend your time?
    • What will you do together? What will you do individually?
    • How will you incorporate alone time? Will you have separate “spaces?” 

Lauren Flanagan Russo is a Vice-President and Senior Planner at Zynergy Retirement Planning and a sponsor of the Women RISE & SHINE Fall Transformation Breakfast

Zynergy Retirement Planning LLC is a fee-only financial planning firm specializing in retirement. Lauren is a Certified Financial PlannerTM and offers comprehensive planning to help people achieve, maintain and enjoy financial freedom. 

At Zynergy, we strive to offer the most comprehensive advice regarding all aspects of your finances including money management, retirement distributions, risk management, liquidity, estate and tax planning, Social Security, Medicare and more.  Because retirement planning consists of so many different facets, it can be incredibly complex… and a mistake can be incredibly costly. As fiduciaries, we are legally obligated to act in the best interest of our members (clients), so you can count on Zynergy to be your trusted guide as you embark on this new chapter.

And it’s not all about the money! Mr. (Fred) Rogers once said, “Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.” Retirement is truly the beginning of another chapter, and it is so important that you plan for retirement not only from a financial perspective, but also from a lifestyle perspective.  Retirement is a time for following your passions and exploring your purpose.  This is one of the facets that makes Zynergy so different… we work with our members to help them to focus on what they are retiring to, instead of what they are retiring from.  Our Retirement Enrichment Program is geared toward helping our retirees enjoy fulfillment in this next chapter of life by offering coaching, volunteer opportunities, special events, a grant program and education. 

At Zynergy, it is also very important to us that we are enriching our community through philanthropy and service.  Each year, 2% of revenue from Zynergy Retirement Planning is donated to our charitable arm, Zynergy Cares. We also sponsor events throughout the year so that our team can give back and we can provide our members with rewarding volunteer opportunities.