As more retirement hopefuls and the financial advisers who serve them begin to consider the non-financial aspects of planning for a retirement period that could last longer than all the years of employment, important lifestyle choices need your consideration. Giving careful thought to what you will be, do, and have during a multi-decade retirement recess period is paramount to ensuring that the financial means of your retirement plan will adequately fund the lifestyle ambitions you seek.
To help discover clues about your retirement lifestyle inclinations, consider the three images above. Which one is most appealing to you? Those who associate with the rocking chair I will call Rockers. Those who relate to the exercise bike I’ll call Bikers, and the beach chair brigade – Seekers.
Among other things, the rocking chair image symbolizes the traditional retirement lifestyle of past generations who lived lives of leisure during relatively short retirement life spans. Regardless of your age today, there’s something timeless, nostalgic and calming about a rocking chair. Increasingly, busy airports are making them available in terminals to help soothe the nerves of stressed passengers. Interesting, all age groups seem to enjoy the calming rocking motion that needs no batteries or cell phone service to operate. People who are attracted to this lifestyle symbol are more about being than doing. Perhaps after a career life of high stress and crammed schedules, the notion of being peaceful, unhurried, and contemplative during the second act of your life seems alluring. Slowing down from a frantic breakneck speed to a slower pace where the events of the day unfold rather than unravel takes practice, discipline, and patience to master. Some folks improve their rocker skills by practicing short periods of just being present that can be extended into a full-time lifestyle as they go. Mindfulness, lifelong education, and maintaining strong relationships with family and friends resonate strongly with this group.
The image of the exercise bike represents a physically active and sometimes competitive life choice. Those who are attracted to this symbol place a high value on physical and mental activities. A major benefit of consistent physical activity is enhanced overall health and fitness while aging with an important caveat: physical activity is beneficial if one’s physical limitations are respected. “No pain, no gain” is not necessarily a good slogan to live by – especially at older ages. Moderation and consistency are the watchwords of those who desire to remain as active as possible for as long as possible. As a result, Bikers tend to tailor their retirement routines to include activities such as running, hiking, biking, swimming, skiing. They often develop networks of friends and social circles with similar interests. This group is all about doing rather than being. Achievement is important. As a comparison, the Rockers would be content taking in the view and enjoying the sea air on an ocean cruise while the Bikers would be running laps around ship’s decks.
The beach chair choice symbolizes a predominant desire for travel and adventure. Those who select this seat feel a draw to experience a sunset from a paradise island in the Caribbean or the view from a mountain peak in the Himalayans. Seekers are not afraid to explore new frontiers during their retirement years. Along with the Bikers, this group is changing the perceptions of retirement living. They are more apt to complete their “bucket list” adventures sooner than the other groups. Whether blazing a new trail or following the sun, they are more motivated by having an experience rather than just being.
The Best Retirement Seat
None of the three lifestyle choices just described are more right or wrong than the others unless you find yourself symbolically sitting in a rocking chair when your inner self wants to be on the exercise bike. Couples need to agree on what works for each of them separately and what lifestyle experiences they can enjoy together to avoid discontentment.
For many, ones current age is a determinant for choosing their seat of choice in retirement and when they will utilize it. Younger retirees tend to enjoy lifestyles similar to the descriptions of the Bikers and Seekers initially, becoming Rockers later on in life.
A Hybrid Retirement Lifestyle
This choice involves combining all three lifestyles concurrently and allocating a portion of time to each throughout an entire retirement lifetime. Part of every day becomes an opportunity to enjoy time just being like a Rocker, doing like a Biker, and having a new experience like a Seeker.
Regardless of your decision, it’s important to be true to yourself and discover what you want to be, do, and have in all facets of your life before you embark of your retirement adventure. Only then can you successfully launch your retirement dreams and create a financial plan to keep them afloat on the sea of your longevity.
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Jim Collier, author of Retirement is Recess for Grown-Ups and the blog The Retired Retirement Planner, is the founder of RetirED LLC, a non-affiliated retire ready resource company located in Larkspur, Colorado.
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