How to Find Balance in Retirement

In the last piece I wrote, Retirement Planning Isn't Just About the Money, I proposed to Baby Boomers that there is more to planning a successful retirement than having the right “number.” Much more.

The book, The New Retirementality by Mitch Anthony, foresaw the coming Baby Boomer retirement crisis and offers a blueprint for those who seek some guidance on how to do this. Clearly, it is not your mother’s or father’s retirement. Those of us who are of the Baby Boomer generation will probably live another 10 years past our parents, save some major medical issues. 

How will we address those unique issues our parents may not have had to face? They include 20 or more years of maintaining our current lifestyle, health issues that do not require institutional care but do require some at home health care, mismanaged personal retirement resources without the guaranteed pension payments of yesteryear, children returning to the nest after late-in-life divorces, raising grandchildren and other challenging situations we forget to consider.

These are all happening around us in staggering numbers. True, we cannot predict if or when they might happen. But to the extent we can control the outcomes and have set boundaries on what we are willing to take on, we should. (For related reading, see: Top 5 Things to Do When You Retire.)

Aspects of a Successful Retirement

Focusing our attention on those aspects of a successful retirement we can control, Mitch asks us to consider how much time we would like to include the following in our typical week:

  • Family/Friends
  • Work/Career
  • Downtime (surfing the web, music, reading, etc)
  • Sleep (yes, it’s that important)
  • Health/Fitness
  • Personal Growth (hobbies, learning a new skill)
  • Spiritual/Religious involvement

Here’s a typical look at the time spent by those who consider their retirement successful.

The percentages of time you would like to devote to those aspects of your life will undoubtedly change as you age. Physical capability will determine how much time you can spend on each. But having those aspects of your life in focus will help in the balance of your time with those activities you enjoy and those you would rather not include. And yes, at that age, you do get to say “no” to many things. You can give yourself permission to say that.

Recognize that the percentages of time you devote to the above activities will differ from those percentages you have to allocate as a working stiff. If you are working full time and do not expect to alter that, then you might start including more of these aspects of retirement in your life now. That falls under the column of “the things you wish you had time for” but failed to include in your life. Don’t make that mistake.

Why be focused on the money aspect of retirement only? Most people will plan for their vacations more carefully than they will their retirement. And by most accounts, retirement will last longer than the vacations. 

Communicate With Spouse

Have you and your spouse had conversations about what you will do in retirement? Make sure you are on the same page on this one. So many divorces happen after age 65 because the spouses have been going in two different directions and no one noticed. Once the full-time job ends and the companionship is 24/7, each will see the other as encroaching on their turf. Often, the different directions collide and the end result is a separation of ways.

And divorce after age 65 is very expensive. The division of retirement assets as part of the divorce settlement can make retirement greatly impoverished for both parties. An honest conversation about “your plans, my plans and our plans” is well worth the time. (For more, see: 6 Signs You Are OK to Retire.)