Ah! Retirement dreams. Most of us look forward to that wondrous day we can finally tell our boss adios … and sleep until noon. No more office BS. No more worrying about who’s coming after your job — or will there even be a job. No more doing all the work while others take the credit. In fact, no more work at all. Your dream is now a reality!
But then, for far too many, come the harsh realities. Not enough money. No sense of purpose. Not feeling needed. Day after day of nothingness looking for something — including extra money — to fill them with. Looking for something to make you feel vital again.
That’s NOT going to be me!
“Now wait a minute!” you say to all the doubters and nay-sayers. “That’s not the way it’s going to be for me! My retirement will indeed be the golden years. Finally I’ll be my own boss!”
I think we’ve all had that dream at one point or another. But, just like the hammock in the picture above, that fantasy picture may also turn out to be empty — or at least a lot less idyllic than imagined in your younger years. So what things can go wrong, even with all your planning?
You don’t have enough money to fund your retirement dreams
- Low interest rates making your money grow much slower than planned
- Miscalculations in how much money you’ll actually need.
- Social Security COLA (Cost of Living adjustment) not keeping up with your real cost of living.
- Your kids still need your help and so that retirement day gets pushed further and further ahead.
- Emergencies / life changes that have forced you to use up precious retirement savings.
- Using your IRAs to fund things you wanted earlier on. (PLEASE don’t touch those accounts for mere wants, even if they are wonderful wants.)
You didn’t realize how much you and things around you might change
- Days start to feel the same day after day, and as boredom sets in, your energy and life spirit start to fade.
- Depression can also set in when feeling unproductive / not needed any more.
- You’re not exactly depressed, but have trouble finding something that makes you want to pop out of bed any more.
- Health issues crop up as a result of a lot more couch potato sitting time, your emotional state, or just unexpected illnesses and/or conditions.
- Things and support systems you counted on no longer exist – friends who move away, family who are too busy, people who are no longer around for whatever reason, changing neighborhood (or need to move) that leaves you feeling like an outsider
Change of any kind can be stressful. But retirement comes with the added bonus of entering a phase of life that brings up all kinds of less than pleasant thoughts — including many things we simply have little if any control over. That’s why, more than ever, it’s time to take control of what we can control.
How to keep those retirement dreams alive
In my own life, I’ve had to accept physical issues that make it hard for me to do much of what I once did — even write for this blog as often as I wish I could. But the upside is that I have discovered so many new things and people that add to my life. My secret? I approach each day with a sense of wonder, gratitude, and curiosity.
Does that mean I never have a down day? Not at all. But what works for me is to come up with new goals that also provide challenges and learning — and open me up to meeting new people, or connecting with ones I already know in a different way, even if funds are tight and health isn’t what it once was.
Do things that make you feel vital. Take on a new hobby or exercise routine / sport. Travel to new places, even if just a few blocks away. Help people you know or find a place to volunteer. Create your own university, where you come up with something you’ve always wanted to learn, using the internet, library or actual classrooms.
What if you need to keep working?
If you need to keep working, try to add some of the above to your life. But also see if you can find work and people you enjoy — possibly even as a freelancer, which can give you extra freedom.
The good thing is, if you’ve reached 65 (or whatever your full retirement age is), you already have Medicare and don’t have to worry about health insurance. Plus you’ll get to keep every penny you earn in addition to your social security.
Sure, those original retirement dreams may not be there any more, but the list of new possibilities is endless. Just trust in yourself, and let your heart speak. The dreams will come.
And please don’t be afraid to try things that may not work out. New paths open up when we move toward things that we care about. Remember, you’re the only boss of your dreams now!
“Approach each day with a sense of wonder, gratitude, and curiosity.”
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