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When it Comes to Your Retirement, Don’t Aspire to do Nothing

When it Comes to Your Retirement, Don’t Aspire to do Nothing

April 19, 2022

When you think of how you’re going to spend your time in retirement…what comes to mind?

A fair number of us believe we’ll reach a point in life where we can just kick back and do nothing. Based on the sentiments that have been shared with me, however, it might be most accurate to say that the expectation is that there is a point in time where we can choose to do nothing, our obligations will still be met, and we will be happy.

I recently had a conversation with a client (who we’ll call Joyce) about this very topic. Now, Joyce is retired in the conventional sense—i.e., no full-time job - but she has chosen to maintain a part-time job and she most certainly has not ceased exerting effort elsewhere to ensure that her obligations are met and that she is happy.

During our conversation, she shared with me how busy life is and how much her current life experience departed from her expectations. Her statements are absolutely consistent with what I have heard before. In fact, I can recall hearing several people utter this statement, almost verbatim:

“I never knew how busy I could be until I retired.”

When Joyce shared her experience with me, the first question that came to mind was, “Where did we get this idea from that we can, or should, refrain from doing something, anything in retirement?”

My Ah Ha Moment

In what other area of your life – other than weight gain and taxes – do you aspire to nothing? So, why would it make sense to make that a goal in retirement?

What these kinds of statements seem to betray, besides what’s already been stated, is the fact that we assume that a point in time to do nothing in life actually exists, or that we can afford to lower our expectations, or that we will be able do what we choose and only what we choose.

More than that, though, it would seem to betray an assumption that nothing is something to which we should aspire—that nothing is the ideal.

It’s Time to Reframe How you Think About Retirement

Thinking of retirement as a time in your life when you’ll do nothing is likely setting you up for some disappointing golden years.

Creating a fulfilling retirement doesn’t happen by accident. In my video, Financial Planning Problems Aren’t Always Financial, I discuss why it’s important not only to create a financial strategy for retirement, but also create a plan for how you’ll spend your time.

Retirement isn’t the time to stop living; what retirement gives you is the ability to make choices about how to spend your time. This isn’t something you should decide on your last day of work. It’s something you should be thinking about long before you pack up your desk.

Creating a financial plan to fit that lifestyle is also important. Your financial planner should work through different retirement scenarios with you, so you know you’re ready to make that transition. I try to be my clients’ greatest advocate when it comes to pursuing their aspirations and I encourage my clients to think about how they will spend their days when their time is their own.

Are you looking for someone to work through your retirement plan with you (not just the financial piece of it, but the personal part as well)? Let’s talk.