Some people have a much better retirement experience than others. What makes the difference? Having a plan and figuring out what you want out of retirement in advance so that you have laid the groundwork for a retirement experience that works for you and your family. In this month’s program, Richard Eisenberg outlines the ten ways that you can achieve a happy retirement. He will be covering:
About Richard Eisenberg
Richard Eisenberg is Managing Editor of PBS’ Nextavenue.org, a site for people in their 50s and 60s. He is also the editor of the site’s Money and Work & Purpose channels and a frequent blogger there. Previously, he was Executive Editor of Money Magazine and Front Page Finance Editor for Yahoo! He is the author of two books: How to Avoid a Mid-Life Financial Crisis and The Money Book of Personal Finance.
You can listen to the replay at https://InstantTeleseminar.com/Events/112495161
In The Couple’s Retirement Puzzle we talk about Time Together and Time Apart as one of the “must-have” conversations for transitioning to the second half of life. It’s not unusual that partners have differing expectations.
For example, Mary, a woman who had primarily worked at home didn’t want her husband, Frank, around all of the time. In fact, she didn’t want him to retire from his work until he had a plan. She didn’t want him sitting around, being bored, maybe rearranging the kitchen cabinets, wanting her to cancel her plans so she would be around and basically being dependent on her for their social life. A stereotype? Yes. Something that often happens? Yes.
Judy, in contrast, expected that her husband would want to do everything with her and she looked forward to it. He, however, wanted to pursue some other interests that she didn’t share. Morris wanted to sell their home and move to Florida. Ruthie, in contrast, hated Florida and wanted to stay in the family home and live near the grandchildren. Although never spending time apart, they finally reached a creative solution. He rented a condo in Florida during the winter months and she stayed in their family home. Result: they ended up enjoying their time apart and learning new things—and saw that their relationship improved when they were back together. Thomas, in preparation for retirement, learned to play a new musical instrument and joined with other musicians for “gigs” while his wife continued in her usual activities, getting together with her friends and volunteering. Creativity in how to spend time together and apart is crucial for couples, whether you’re married or not.
I recently read an article in the WSJ Article on September 9, 2013, by Psychologist Maryanne Vandevere. From my perspective, she expanded on this notion of time together and time apart in an interesting way. She wrote about the role of parallel play in the life of retirees. She pointed out that, similar to small children, who play side by side and don’t always interact with the activity, successful retirees have a similar process when each learns something new, follows their own passion and their partner also does their “own thing.” Each develops their own interests and it enhances their relationship since both are happy, enjoying their own creativity and mastery. This can bring new energy and excitement to the relationship. It works for kids—why not give it a try in the second half of life?
Vandevere comments that “individuals who do almost everything together in later life—who are “joined at the hip” usually aren’t as satisfied or fulfilled as couples where spouses have their own interests and, ideally, are learning new skills. She points out that “the model of parallel play meets the needs “for both freedom and involvement.”
What are the benefits, you may be asking? Vandevere suggests a few, such as more interesting dinner conversations, confidence for each that you can function independently and “tonic for the soul” to have some time and space for separateness and self-reflection. She also points out that challenging oneself can bring both mastery and pride and, as the old adage says, “absence (often) makes the heart grow fonder.” I like her image that “parallel play gives you ‘roots and wings’ and allows you to grow.” She further states that “It promotes the major task for this stage of life: becoming as whole as you can be. “
My suggestion: talk together about your expectations about time together and apart and creatively think about the notion of parallel play in your life and relationship. In the process, you can challenge and develop yourself and have more to bring back to your partner. I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas on this.
In a WSJ article by Kathleen Hughes on April, 9, 2012, the focus was on couples not agreeing on the timing of retirement. It was a terrific article which gave examples of a few couples and how they were dealing with the situation. Women no longer want to live their husband’s vision of retirement, and want equal say in the decision making. In one couple the wife was older, already retired, and didn’t want her husband to retire until he had a plan of what he was retiring to. Home was her domain and she didn’t want him around without a plan. In another couple the husband was tired and wanted to retire but his wife wanted him to continue work and to contribute financially. The husband wanted to please his wife but wasn’t sure how much longer he would be able to work, given his energy level.
These decisions can be very intense, often with people holding on to conflicting viewpoints. The issue of the timing of retirement is also complicated with other issues and debates–such as if there’s enough money, where you want to live and what you’re each expecting from the other. It’s helpful to clarify what’s important to each of you so you can find ways for some creative compromise that works for both of you.
The Dow Jones is whipping up and down more rapidly and more frighteningly than the scariest Giga-coaster (that’s giant roller coaster), the media is whipping up a frenzy of hysteria, and politicians are whipping out their index fingers nastily pointing to their opponents as the cause of it all. Your life savings are dwindling, your plans for a cushy retirement are fading, and a restful night’s sleep has become a thing of the past. Not to worry. You can stay calm when chaos and uncertainty is swirling all around you by:
1. Tuning Out. Okay, so it may seem too simple, but what if you just turned off the TV, put your daily newspaper on hold, and stopped checking your portfolio online every 10 minutes? You’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll feel without the steady stream of bad news overwhelming you. And, you don’t have to worry that you’ll miss any “really” bad news, because at least one person you know will call you immediately to find out if you’ve heard.
2. Tuning In. There will never be a better time to start using your IGS (Internal Guidance System). It’s like the GPS you use in your car, only better. Your IGS is that deep inner knowing that’s called a variety of names – hunch, intuition, gut feeling, to name a few. You know what I’m talking about. It’s when you absolutely know that you should (or shouldn’t) do something and you do it anyway. Aren’t you always sorry when you don’t listen? So now is the time to start tuning in. Once you’ve stopped listening to all the external noise, tune in to what you need to do for yourself. It’s probably NOT eating a quart of Ben & Jerry’s every night.
3. Stop Blaming. While it may seem perfectly sane to play the blame game, it’s a total waste of time. So what if you think your broker or the Democrats or the Republicans or your evil Aunt Sophie is responsible for the pickle you find yourself in. Does it really matter at this point? Blaming keeps you stuck in the past. Now’s the time to make some good decisions for your future.
4. Stop Playing the Victim. If you need to go to bed for a day with one or more of those Ben & Jerry’s quarts, do it. But set a tight limit to the amount of time you’re going to wallow. “Oh, woe is me” won’t change anything. It’ll just keep you stuck in the lousy feelings.
5. Accentuating the Positive. Now, more than ever is the time to refocus your attention. Move from dwelling and ruminating and worrying about what you’ve lost, to refocusing your attention on all that you have. A simple, daily act of gratitude will work miracles, not only in the way you feel, but in your life as well.
6. Discovering the Lesson(s). Yes, there are powerful lessons in this financial crisis for all of us, whether you were heavily invested or not. Perhaps, like many women, you’ve been the proverbial ostrich, leaving it up to your spouse or financial planner to build your wealth. You may be relieved that you never invested in the stock market, because you’re still waiting for the knight in shining armor (or Prince Charming) to come and take care of you. Or, you may have accumulated a lot of really cool stuff over the years, but haven’t secured your financial future because you’re not good at math. Find out what the lessons are and then start?
7. Answering the Golden Question. In every situation that you don’t like, ask yourself, “What’s the opportunity here?” I promise you, there’s always an opportunity. It may be time for you to take charge of your money and learn about investing and managing your wealth, and/or time to build your financial future before the Prince shows up, or uncover what you really value and align your life with that. Oh, and the math excuse? Forget about it. You don’t have to be a mathematician to be a good investor. If you take the time to re-evaluate your relationship with money and learn all that you can, you’ll build a secure future.
Change (good and bad) is inevitable in life. Some you choose, some – like the current financial crisis – is thrown at you. If you allow yourself to be swept along in all the negativity and hysteria, you’ll just be reacting to everything that comes along and you’ll feel yanked and pulled and fearful. If, however, you take charge and become pro-active, you can remain calm amidst the storm. And, you’ll sleep a whole lot better, too!
Does the state of the economy have you rethinking your retirement? Are you convinced that you’ll have to work at least seven years after you’re dead before you can afford to retire? Has the challenge/joy/thrill of what you do long since departed, yet you feel you’re stuck in your current job? Do you feel that you can’t keep doing what you’ve been doing, the way you’ve been doing it, but are filled with doubts about making a job or career change?
Would you like to do work that you love, and have a healthier balance between work and the rest of your life for the rest of your life? It’s definitely possible. All it requires is a fresh perspective and the discarding of some old, decrepit, limiting beliefs. You can rewire your thinking by realizing that:
1. You don’t have to keep doing what you’re doing. Maybe you’re really good at it, but you just don’t like it any more ? or you never did. Perhaps you’ve grown bored with your work. Or, it could be you’re simply ready for a change.
You may feel stuck, but you’re not. You can choose to find work that’s aligned with your values, allows you to express yourself fully (yes, ALL of you!), and fulfills some greater purpose ? work that challenges you, pulls you out of bed in the morning, and lights you up.
It will take pushing outside your comfort zone, being proactive, and living bigger and bolder. You can do it.
2. You don’t have to buy into the conventional wisdom about what is and is not possible. Who says you can’t find a great job, or start a successful business, or write a best-selling book in this economy?
What employer wouldn’t want someone with your experience, talent, resources, skills, wisdom and gifts? What service or product is the world in need of, that only you can provide? Who couldn’t learn from or be entertained by the words that only you can write?
If you’re planning on being conventional, then you may as well resign yourself to more of the same old same old. Otherwise, take the lid off and start believing that anything is possible. Then, go out and show the world that it is.
3. You don’t have to start over at the bottom. But you can find a new challenge. Start by looking for it in your current company.
If it’s past time for you to get out, then look for that challenge in a new company. But, don’t even think of approaching your job search in any — here’s that word again — conventional way. This is where you’ll want to get rid of the box altogether, and get really creative in how you approach prospective employers. Or, maybe you’re yearning to be self-employed. Go for the challenge of starting your own business. Find your passion, do your homework, research the market, find your ideal audience, and take the leap.
4. You don’t have to prove yourself. Honestly, how many times in your working life have you felt the need to prove yourself? Since you’ve been there and done that, declare “enough!” Instead, make a list of all your many qualities, capabilities, abilities, skills, experiences, and talents. Own them. You’ve earned every single one of them, most likely the hard way. Now use this list to build confidence in yourself, and what you can do.
5. You don’t have to go back to school, unless you really want to. If the idea of learning something new that will catapult you into a new career turns you on, great. There is, however, a lot to be said for experience, and don’t you already have plenty of that? Take the time to explore all the many options available to you. Yes, you have options, lots of options! Uncover long-buried dreams, dust them off, and see if they still fit. Discover what you love, combine that with what you’re good at that you love doing, and voila, you’ll find what’s next.
So, throw out those old ways of thinking, re-ignite your confidence, and get started on creating work that works for you.