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Preparing for Retirement Emotionally: A Timeline and Tips Thumbnail

Preparing for Retirement Emotionally: A Timeline and Tips

Laurence Hale, AAMS®, CRPS®
Principal/Managing Partner, Investment Advisor & Chief Investment Officer

Retirement paves the way to a new and exciting chapter of our lives. Like popping the cork from a long-awaited champagne bottle, this is the moment of relief when, for the first time ever, we now have ample time to travel the world, take up new hobbies, and scratch whatever itch we’ve been ignoring.

But for many of us, the thought of leaving our jobs forever can be daunting. After all, our careers play an important role in shaping our identity. And to suddenly cut the cord means we have to find something else to fill the void.

This isn’t helped by the fact that the word ‘retirement’ can feel quite limiting – when it’s anything but. Today’s typical 60 somethings are nothing like those of a generation ago, when men could expect to live up to their late sixties, and for women their mid-seventies. Since then, life expectancy has improved incrementally. The current life expectancy for men in the U.S. is 75 and for women it’s 85.

For many retirees these days, retirement isn't a wind-down phase but a whole new beginning.

And just as new beginnings in the earlier phases of life required preparation, so too does this one.

Financially speaking, you might need to consider how to manage your retirement fund more strategically. This is where solid financial planning and strategic investments and wealth management come into play – these are essential to enabling you to live the kind of lifestyle you want, for longer than might have been expected by prior generations.

But how do you prepare for such a massive transition emotionally? According to gerontologist Ken Dychtwald, it’s all about mindset. (You can read more about Dychtwald and his work on his website, agewave.com.) He advises people approaching retirement to do so as they would a career: set goals, visualize a ladder to climb, and use these targets as motivation to move closer towards your next destination.

This is important because, as human beings, we’re very goal oriented and without goals, we lack direction. Unfortunately, the statistics show how detrimental it can be to find yourself without purpose and meaning at retirement: depression is prevalent in 22% of men and 28% of women at the age of 65 and over.

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If you’re unsure of how to even begin to plan for retirement, then following some of the principles from Professor Dychtwald’s five phases of retirement could help you map out your journey.

Imagination (15 years before retirement):

Being at least fifteen years away from finishing work for good, retirement might not seem like a priority. At this point, you’re more likely to be making sure that career aspirations are met, bills are paid, and your children are able to get through university. But it’s important to think about your retirement savings at this stage to ensure you have the financial stability to live well post-retirement. This is where you can start to dream big and imagine the retirement you really want to have.

Anticipation (3 years from retirement):

Now you’re planning to turn retirement it into reality… this is where preparing emotionally is just as vital as preparing financially. A great way to do this is by trying to develop a network of retirees whom you can trust for advice so they can share their experience of how they coped with the process. Make a note of the goals you want to accomplish and what measures need to be put in place in order to achieve them. 

Preparing (1 year before retirement):

The new beginning is near! Now’s the time to start developing concrete steps. Ask yourself what you’re going to do during the first week of retirement and what you plan on doing on a day-to-day basis. Make a plan of what you want to achieve in the first six months and talk it through with your partner or loved ones. Visualizing the practicalities of this new phase will make it seem less daunting when it eventually arrives.

The liberation phase (first year of retirement):

Your working life is finally over! This is the stage when you’re likely to feel the most excited, relieved, and liberated. You can finally begin to explore new opportunities, travels, and hobbies. Unfortunately, this honeymoon period will eventually fade, but remember, this is natural. Dychtwald states the importance of staying physically active and maintaining strong social ties with people at this stage.

Reorientation (3 years into retirement):

Being this far into retirement, you’ll hopefully be settled into a new routine and you may even have taken a step back and started to think about what you want to offer the world. This is the part where creating a legacy for the next generation can be top of mind. Whether that’s by sharing your knowledge and wisdom with others, or by thinking more carefully about the financial gifts you’re leaving children and grandchildren, this is an opportunity for you to decide what impact you want to leave on the world.

Wherever you are on this timeline, it’s never too late to invest in the kind of life you want to live.

Retirement isn’t the end of the road; dream big and don’t be afraid to chase after your deepest desires. That may mean making adjustments to your overall financial planning and wealth management strategy.

This process lies at the heart of what we do for our clients at Weiss, Hale and Zahansky Strategic Wealth Advisors. Through our proprietary Plan Well, Invest Well, Live Well™ strategy, we empower our clients to move forward fearlessly through every stage of life, knowing they’ve got a strong strategy in place to help them build wealth so that they can live well. See how we can help you to create your own strategy for living well in retirement.

This article was prepared by AdvisorStream for Laurence Hale, AAMS, CRPS® and is legally licensed for use by AdvisorStream. Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®, Member FINRA/SIPC, a Registered Investment Adviser. These materials are general in nature and do not address your specific situation. For your specific investment needs, please discuss your individual circumstances with your representative. Weiss, Hale & Zahansky Strategic Wealth Advisors does not provide tax or legal advice, and nothing in the accompanying pages should be construed as specific tax or legal advice. 697 Pomfret Street, Pomfret Center, CT 06259, 860-928-2341. http://www.whzwealth.com (http://www.whzwealth.com).

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