An Open Letter to My Retiring Friend

Dear Cindy,

Congratulations on your upcoming retirement and successful career! You’ve worked many years to earn this achievement. Here’s wishing you a wonderful and fulfilling retirement.

Since I myself have been retired for nearly 6 years and have a website dedicated to retirement, I thought I’d offer you some suggestions based on what I’ve learned. As always you are free to take what you like and leave the rest behind.

Financial

Since your retirement coincides with a time of market decline and volatility, you might want to carefully watch your spending. As you know, there is the 4% rule which says that you should spend no more than 4% of your savings per year. Perhaps you should aim to spend a smaller percentage to reduce sequence of returns risk, to get comfortable with living off of savings vs. a paycheck, and to instill confidence that you can successfully manage your personal retirement finances.

Health

Did you happen to see the viral video of that 106 year old woman dancing with the First Family? When asked about how she’s managed to live so long she answered: “just keep moving”. And that’s exactly the answer that my Aunt Grace, who lived to 103, used to give to me. So allow me to echo that advice. Stay active, build muscle strength and don’t consume more calories than you burn. (A low tech tool can help with that – the good old bathroom scale.) Since you have access to great health care, I recommend using it proactively because once something is lost, it is very difficult to get it back. I believe that this simple advice will increase the number of years of your retirement and the quality of those years.

Living with a Purpose

Having gone through my own identity crisis and retirement disenchantment phase, I can’t emphasize enough how important and challenging this is. My lessons learned were earned the hard way. Here are some thoughts for you. One of your goals is to write a book. If you haven’t written before you can join a writers’ group, take classes or read instructive books. Some libraries offer writers groups and classes. Another resource to help get up and running are meetup groups. Check out my post about eBooks which includes helpful references.

Retirement for many is a time for giving back. You have a tremendous amount of knowledge and enthusiasm that can be directed in many ways for the benefit of others. Figuring out what you want to do and how to go about it presents an opportunity to get to know yourself better and to write the next chapter of your life.  By making a difference in the lives of others, you’ll make a difference in your life too.

Expect the Unexpected

My adjustment to retirement was tumultuous. The first year (sometimes referred to as the honeymoon phase) was filled with so much activity that I didn’t have time to think of anything else. However, I eventually began to feel disenchanted with my decision to retire. It was only later that I learned that this is a common progression (see The 6 Stages of Retirement). Knowing what to expect can help prepare you to deal with the ups and downs that will come your way.

In closing, I want to leave you with this thought. Be sure to have fun along the way whatever shape that takes. Retirement is a reward and an opportunity. It is up to you to experience it as such.

All the best!

Ted

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