I ran across a very interesting article on NextAvenue titled, “Let People Choose How They Age”. It’s a good read you might want to check out.
The gist of the article for me was that individuals should break some of those traditional stereotypes when it comes to retirement. You guys know I totally believe that. It’s what “unretirement” is all about.
But I think there’s a difference between saying, “I want to redefine retirement.” and actually doing it. Let’s face it. For decades, we’ve been told that, at a certain age, we stop working, and that’s it. We’re supposed to save enough money to take care of ourselves. Today is different. We don’t need to stop working at a certain age. We can earn money while collecting Social Security.
Again, if we’re trying to break the retirement mold and create our own unretirement, it takes time. And it means thinking about our aging strategy. And then being prepared to put those thoughts and plans into action.
How do we want to spend our time? There are so many different things we can do: traveling, volunteering, working, etc. And frankly, there’s no reason we can’t do them all. It seems to me though, as we age, we will need to reprioritize the ways we spend our time. We need to be prepared to do that on a regular basis. And communicate it to the people in our lives. That includes family, friends, managers, and co-workers.
What impact will health have on our plans? At some point, we have to confront our health. Even if we eat right and exercise regularly. As our health changes, can we find activities that we enjoy? Is it possible to still volunteer or work part-time? If possible, it could make some sense to take a personal skills inventory and identify some knowledge and skills that we want to work on now…when we have the time to do it at our pace and convenience.
Will our finances force us to change our retirement plans? It would be wonderful to say that when we retire that we won’t have to live on a budget. Chances are that won’t be the case. So, first, we must learn how to create a retirement budget. In addition, we must make some very adult decisions about things we might never do because the budget doesn’t permit. When we’re in our 20’s and 30’s, we figure the money will always show up. At some point, we have to address the possibility that it won’t.
As we think about our unretirement and retirement, we have the ability to pave our own path. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we will be able to do whatever we want. It will be necessary to balance our wants and needs with the resources we have available to us. That doesn’t mean we can make our unretirement and retirement an enjoyable and fulfilling time.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby while exploring the streets of San Francisco, CA