If you’re like many people, you probably don’t think much about what your life will be like after you retire.

Maybe you don’t like to think about getting old.

Forming a clearer picture of how you would like to live your life after you reach the point where you no longer need to work will help you make better plans, both financially and otherwise. It will also give you more to look forward to.

The questions in this slideshow will help you sort these things out.

What other questions can you think of? Please share in the comments!

Aged to Perfection icon

I'm delighted to be Mark McNease's guest on another interview in his "Aged to Perfection" podcast series for his website, lgbtSr.org. This week Mark and I spoke about some of the different lifestyles people create for themselves in retirement. We also touch on identifying what suits you, and the importance of discussing your envisioned retirement with a spouse if you have one.

Give a listen!

You have probably seen a bumper sticker, T-shirt, or coffee mug that exclaims, “He who dies with the most toys wins!”  Many people in the U.S. and other first-world nations seem to have bought in to that philosophy to at least some extent.

He who dies with the most toys wins

What does the person who dies with the most toys actually win?

Do you sometimes look at everything you own and wonder how you ever accumulated so much stuff?

If you’re like most of us, you know that someday you’re going to need to downsize.  Does the thought of going through all of your possessions and deciding what you will part with excite you about as much as having a root canal?

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Artist at Work

Think about what your retirement will look like, on a day-to-day basis.  Do you think you will be happy?

Are you concerned that once you leave work, you will feel that you’re not contributing anything of value?

Are you worried that retirement will be boring and depressing?

There are four components to a happy retirement:  physical activity, mental stimulation, socialization, and fulfillment.  The first three are pretty easy to understand, and it’s pretty easy to find activities that satisfy those needs.  But the fourth one, fulfillment, is a little less tangible and may seem more elusive.

Fulfillment comes from many sources, internal and external.  It means something different for every one of us.  It may be hard to define, but we know when we feel it.

What is “fulfillment?”

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Map with Push Pins

The internet is consumed with list-mania!  It seems that top ten lists (or twelve, or twenty, or…) are the magic formula to attract viewer traffic.  Some web sites are comprised of nothing but top ten lists, and some major news web sites publish lists frequently as well.

There are now dozens, if not hundreds, of "Best Places to Retire" lists on the internet.

Can you trust them?

With so many contradictory lists, how are you to make sense of it all?

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When you think about what your retirement lifestyle will be like, what comes to mind?  What adjectives would you use to describe what you hope your life will be like?

I’ll bet one that’s high on your list is “stress-free.”  Like practically everyone else, I’m sure you hope that your retirement years will be more relaxing and less stressful, since you will no longer have to deal with work, your kids will be grown, and you can spend your time doing what you want to do.

Stressed eggs

Ultimately, it should work out that way, but I’ve got some bad news for you.  The transition into retirement might be one of the most stressful times of your life.  Let’s look at why.

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How many things are you putting off until you retire?

Sure, your life is busy. There never seems to be enough time to do the things you really want to do. It’s easy to think, “When I’m retired, I’ll have all the time I want for <insert activity here>.”

Hiker at Grand Canyon

To an extent, you’re right. You will have a lot more time to do the things you want after you retire. And it’s good to use these things as incentives to help you look forward to retirement and to better plan for it.

But why postpone happiness until sometime in the future? There’s no lifetime quota on happiness and enjoyment – you can have as much as you want.  If you put things off for too long, you may never get to do them, or you may no longer have as much physical or mental capacity to do them.

I’m going to suggest seven things that people often postpone, thinking that they will be able to devote time and attention to them once they retire. And I’m going to present a case for why it’s in your best interests to start doing them now, rather than wait.

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After you retire, what will you do with all of your new-found time?

Are you concerned that you’ll be bored?

I’m always bewildered when I hear people say that they think retirement will be boring.  I’ve heard many people say they don’t want to retire and they would rather keep working, because they have no idea what they would do with all that leisure time.


This is totally foreign to me.  I never seem to find enough time to do everything I want to do.

In my Retirement Visualization Guide, I ask you to list things you really enjoy doing, things you have enjoyed doing in the past, and new things you want to try.  If you have undertaken this exercise, chances are that there are more things you just haven’t thought of - yet.

The list below will stimulate you to come up with some more possibilities for activities you might pursue after you retire.  It is by no means a complete list, but it should provide some good starting points for brainstorming and possibility thinking.

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It’s December in Phoenix.  Our daily high temperatures reach into the upper 70s, and our nighttime lows are in the lower 50s.  The days shift between sunny and partly cloudy;  it rains only occasionally.

The freeway traffic is heavier, the restaurants are more crowded, and the grocery check-out lines are longer.  Why?  The snowbirds are here!

Retire Fabulously Snowbirds Crowded Freeway Heavy Traffic Retirement
Snowbirds add millions of dollars to the local economy, but also clog the freeways, restaurants, and check-out lines.

Snowbirds are people who migrate from colder regions of the United States and Canada to sunny spots in Florida, Arizona, and other Sunbelt states every year.

But to the millions of people who migrate every year, it offers the best of both worlds – an opportunity to maintain ties to your family, friends, and the familiarity of the place you’ve called home for much of your life, as well as an escape from cold, wintery weather and a change of scenery.

Why is seasonal migration so popular among retirees?  What are the drawbacks and the costs?  What do you need to plan for, and what challenges must be confronted?

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The Old Home

Are you planning to move after you retire?  While top ten lists of retirement havens are a staple of today’s list-happy internet, there are still many people who plan to retire right where they are.

My most recent reader survey indicates that over 60% of respondents are considering moving or have already moved.  Only 15% say they aren’t planning to move, and the rest are unsure.

(By the way, the survey is still open.  It’s only 7-8 multiple-choice questions and it should take you only 3-5 minutes to complete it.  You can participate here.  Thanks!)

On the other hand, a recent article on CNN Money claims that 63% of Baby Boomers plan to stay in their own homes when they retire.  In the October, 2014 issue of Consumer Reports, 65% of retirees surveyed had not moved.

Of course, you can find statistics to prove anything.  Regardless of what some percentage of people is planning to do, what really matters is what you want and what makes the most sensible choice for you. ...continue reading