Defining success in any undertaking is an important first step that is often ignored. While project management is a way of life at most successful corporations, most people don't apply that discipline to their personal life in a meaningful way. They spend forty years working and saving and then suddenly find themselves approaching retirement age without a plan.
Most people think of the financial aspects of retirement when they consider their post-work future but that isn't the only area where careful planning is needed. All the money in the world won't matter if there isn't a sense of fulfillment and wellbeing when you wake up without a job to go to and a calendar that only has doctor appointments. The sad fact is that a majority of people don't think through the lifestyle they want to create when they're finally finished with their working career.
Retirement can and should be the happiest time of anyone's life and, with a little planning and insight, it can be more rewarding than most people ever imagined. Imagination takes thought and the subject of a “successful” retirement never makes the cut when it comes to the thought process of most people. Other than checking on their 401K and other savings accounts every once in a while, retirement thoughts are way off in the future. But retirement is more than about money, it's about how you'll spend your time. You shouldn't wait until your first day of retirement to figure that out. People love to plan out their vacations, but how many put the same effort into how to plan out the rest of their life?
The possibilities are endless and while many people embark on their retired life with a once in a lifetime vacation they've always dreamed about, they end their celebratory journey with a tinge of sadness and a bit of concern about how to fill up their days when the need to go work to make a living is over. It doesn't have to be that way, and, with a little thought and planning, it won't. The remedy is a simple one. A self discovery process that takes inventory of your skills and talents, your likes and dislikes and even a list of your biggest accomplishments in life can help in determining the priorities in your life. The fact is, you'll need a few priorities to keep you busy and fulfilled. If you think you can spend the rest of your life just playing golf, it's quite possible that you'll be in for an unpleasant surprise after your first year.
Taking the time to explore long-lost desires and creating a list of things you always wanted to try will be time well spent as you plan out making your retirement years even happier than your working ones. Always have that next journey planned and have a list of places you want to visit. Are there any hobbies you wanted to start or an instrument you wanted to learn how to play? Do you still want to write The Great American Novel? Make plans to do it as soon as you can. Perhaps some of your plans will need to be adjusted. Maybe those flying lessons you wanted to take in your youth are not as attractive as they seemed. You can get almost the same thrill with a drone that has a camera attached. Making slight adjustments to the dreams you had entertained can give you many years of enjoyment.
Make your retired years better than your working years. Keeping them as exciting as possible will add years to your life and your ability to enjoy all the things there are to do. It's never too early or too late to start. Make it a part of your plan to embrace and enjoy retired life.