Why retirement is very personal

You are who you are, which means that when it comes to retirement, you shouldn’t try to live someone else’s retirement. You need to remember who you are.

Whatever the current retiree rage is – cruising down the Rhine, swimming with dolphins in the Florida Keys or taking The Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin – if you don’t really have an interest, why would you want to include it in your retirement plan?

This is your retirement, not anyone else’s. Naturally, if you’re part of a couple, there needs to be some give and take.

Learn from the lessons you’ve already learnt
If you’re getting close to retirement, you’ve already had quite a bit of life experience. You already know a lot about who you are. Yes, there’s more to discover, more to experience, more to experiment with, but the basics are there.

Along the way, you would have discovered what you love to do. What plans do you have for doing it, or them, in retirement?

I love to write. I was 22 before I decided to see if I was good enough to be published. That first article was published! I was hooked. Several hundred articles and a few books later, a 15-year stint as a magazine editor, and I still have the writing bug.

That’s why, in ‘retirement’, I enjoy writing about retirement.

That’s my story. What’s yours? What do you love doing? How will you incorporate it into your retirement? Or how are you incorporating it into your retirement?

When you have the time, you have the opportunity
I’ve written about retirement being a gift of time every week, but that can be expanded. There are 8760 hours a year (8784 every leap year). Okay, you’ll sleep for about one-third of them (2920 hours). That still leaves you 5840 hours to be who you want to be in retirement.

That’s a stack of time to spend your retirement your way – with your deadlines, your priorities, your passions, your hobbies, your interests, your goals – to make it your retirement.

Please don’t read this as saying your retirement should be self-centred and selfish. That’s self-defeating if you’re looking for the best retirement.

Make sure you try new things
You need to plan to do new things in retirement. This is still a chance to experiment and to achieve new things; to take opportunities that come your way and to go outside your comfort zone.

Be aware of opportunities as you plan your retirement. And in your retirement.

So let’s get back to the give-and-take between couples. If you’re part of a couple, that means some decisions you make will be shared decisions. Your partner may not be as excited about walking the Great Wall of China as you are. How will you work through that?

I can’t answer that for you because I’m not you. And it’s your retirement, not mine.

A final point struck me while browsing the book, Retirement Maze. The authors, Rob Pascale, Luis H. Primavera and Rip Roach, said: “Retirement is a full-time job. Retirement is very much about building a new life, mostly from the ground up and usually without much help. That’s what makes it such a challenge.”

Have you found retirement to be a full-time job? Are you trying to ensure your retirement is your retirement?

This is an edited version of an article that first appeared on RetireNotes.com

Bruce Manners is the author of Retirement Ready? and Refusing to Retire. He is also the founder of RetireNotes.com

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