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One Key Factor Most People Overlook When Planning for Retirement.

Updated on April 29, 2018
Scott Gese profile image

I'm actively retired, but now I work for myself as a freelance writer. Give me a keyboard and I'll stay busy for hours.

Retirement: Are you ready?
Retirement: Are you ready? | Source

You've worked hard all your adult life. Retiring is heavy on your mind. Maybe you've reached a point where you've grown tired of the hamster wheel. All you can think about is getting the hell out. Mentally, you're more than ready to give the boss your notice. But are you really ready to take the big leap.

Leaving a working career is without a doubt a life changing event. Your working years are behind you. All your careful planning is now in place. You have the necessary funding to survive those golden years. Everything seems to be in order.

Hopefully you realize that finances are merely one part of the overall plan. There are other equally significant challenges just over that sunny horizon. These also need to be thought through. Not taking every important issue into consideration can give you a skewed view of those golden years.

You want your retirement to be on a level path, not a downhill slope.

Don't set yourself up for failure
Don't set yourself up for failure

Before you take that final plunge, take off those rose colored glasses.


Take a realistic look at all the facets of your plan. Not just the money part. After all, retirement should be a joyful time indeed. The last thing you want is to have it turn out to be something less than expected.

A well thought out retirement plan must take the emotional aspect of your sudden lifestyle change into consideration.

As part of your plan, you should have taken the time to develop your passions and interests. You will need quality time-well-spent. Having a reason to get out of bed each morning is extremely important. The ability to prevent boredom from taking root and derailing those lucid dreams of total bliss is a must.

A ship without a rudder will eventually run aground.


Think about it. After forty to fifty years of a regimented work schedule, to total freedom overnight can be a challenging life change. Especially for those who aren't fully prepared. In fact, it can even be a challenge for those who are. Don't take this lifestyle change lightly. Once that 'vacation' feeling wears off, you may be in for a big surprise. It's never too early to start planning.

Start Early

Start Early
Start Early | Source

Start to develop a solid plan well before you're financially ready to give the boss that final notice. Be sure it includes ideas on how you will keep busy for the long term. Catching up on that honey-do list might be an important first task. Finishing those long put off projects will seem like a breeze now that your daily nine to five commitment is no longer a factor. Those work on and around the house projects are a great way to fill your first few days, weeks and even months.

Unfortunately the honey-do list won't last forever. It's only so long. You need a concrete plan to stay active for the long term. If you don't have one in place, the refrigerator, television or computer screen will stealthily fill in the gaps. This type of lifestyle isn't going to cut it for long. In fact, it's a sure fire way to quickly end up in an unhealthy situation.

Here's a real life example.

A workmate of mine retired a few years ago. Several months after he had left he stopped by the shop to visit. I couldn't believe my eyes. He looked pregnant. He had gained close to thirty pounds. Turns out he had no plan for his new-found freedom. With no hobbies and no real interests, the TV. and fridge had filled his spare time. His body was deteriorating and his brain was turning to mush.

Our brains and bodies work best when they are in a state of physical and emotional well being.

Exercising your brain is as important as exercising your body. A brain will deteriorate just as easily as any muscle that doesn't get a regular workout.

You need to keep your brain and body healthy. Quality exercise such as hiking or volunteering your skills and services is great for your body. Enjoying a hobby that requires several ways of thinking, such as idea generation, critical thinking and problem solving is great for your mind.

If bartering or earning extra cash from your hobby or services is on the agenda, go for it. Emotional motivators like these are well worth pursuing if the goal is to keep active.

Keep in mind that the end goal doesn't have to be about making money. A sense of accomplishment in itself can be all the reward that's necessary.

If a hobby isn't currently part of your overall plan, consider adding one. Many are inexpensive. Some are free, and relatively easy to start.

Try stepping out of your comfort zone by learning something new and different.

Here are a few ideas:

Learn to build and run a blog or a website.

  • Learn a foreign language.
  • Learn to play a musical instrument.
  • Get some fresh air by walking. Find new hiking trails.
  • Join a gym or yoga studio.
  • Taking day trips (and then blogging about them) can be both fun and rewarding.
  • Give back by volunteering your time and talents to an organization you feel good about.

The Key Factor

The one key factor most people overlook when planning for retirement is this... Retirement, it's not for the lazy.

Quick Quiz

Do you have a current hobby you can pursue when you retire?

See results

The list is endless, and yes, anything is possible. Most activities are well within the reach of anyone. Don't limit yourself with a negative attitude by saying such things as “I'm not that smart” or “I can't do that.” You really are that smart and you really can do it. I'm living proof.

Trail Hiking
Trail Hiking | Source

I taught myself to write at age fifty. I also taught myself photography. Now that I'm retired, I use these skills to successfully promote my work to magazines and online publications. I also taught myself how to build websites. It was a challenge but I stuck with it. I refused to tell myself I couldn't do it. And to top it all off, I also spend time on building projects in my wood shop. This is how I stay mentally active.

To stay physically active and get myself out of the house, I plan out and take day trips. I love to hike and many of my trips are to one of the many hiking trails in my area. When I'm not on a trail I take walks around my neighborhood.

What's the best part of this whole retirement gig? There's no schedule, no time limit, no deadline and no pressure connected to any of the things you decide to do. That might be a difficult challenge for some. But remember, nothing is set in stone. If staying on task is a problem, go ahead and set yourself up on a schedule if that works better for you. A hobby or activity can be learned and enjoyed over any length of time. There are no set hours. No one is breathing down your neck to get things done. This makes the experience much more relaxing and enjoyable.

Final Thoughts

Remember, as the saying goes, it's the journey, not the destination. In fact, there doesn't even need to be a destination. The whole idea is to enjoy the ride while keeping your brain and body in motion.

Be sure to do yourself a favor when formulating a retirement plan. Incorporate workable ideas to stay physically and mentally fit. The goal is to keep boredom at bay.

An active brain and a fit body will keep those golden years shining brightly. So plan ahead to stay healthy. You'll be glad you did.

© 2018 Scott Gese


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