Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Michael Winters when we both appeared as guests on the Houston Matters radio program. During the program, we talked about both financial and non-financial aspects of transitioning to retirement, topics that are way too expansive to cover in a short radio segment. I asked Dr. Winters to meet with me again yesterday to continue our conversation because his philosophy seemed to be in line with ours when it comes to transitioning to retirement: namely that you must know what you’re retiring to, not just what you’re retiring from.
Dr. Winters and I spoke at length about the importance of knowing what you value and what gives you meaning and purpose as you make the transition to retirement. For most of us, those things include family, friends, hobbies philanthropy and volunteerism. But we must not wait until after retirement to begin thinking through this difficult subject.
As Dr. Winters pointed out, the first several weeks and even months of retirement feel like an extended vacation, but when the reality sets in that this new state is permanent, it can be overwhelming. For many people, so much of our identity is tied up in what we do for a living. “I am a financial advisor. Who am I if I’m not a financial advisor?” Figuring this out before retirement will help ease the transition to this new phase of life.
I asked Dr. Winters to provide some practical things to consider when answering the question, “What are you retiring to?” Here are his thoughts:
“1) With whom do you want to spend your time? Relationships rate very highly in terms of the quality (and quantity) of life. Having rewarding relationships with a spouse or close friends is very important. If you already have close connections, how can you maintain them? If you do not have the kinds of relationships you want, it is not too late to develop new connections.
“2) What is really important to you? Perhaps there are things you never did professionally because you could not make money at them, like paint portraits, dance, take care of sick animals or knit afghans. As you retire you will have time to invest in what is really important to you. Having activities that reflect your values and absorb your interest are very important.
“3) How will you structure your time? For most of us work provides not only social connections, but a framework for how to spend our time. When working we know when we have to be awake and when we are expected for a meeting, etc. Upon retirement consider regular breakfast meetings with friends. This will ensure that you stay connected with others and are up and out of the house on a regular basis.”
For more ideas from Dr. Winters, visit his website which you can find here.