The Top 6 (Non-Financial) Mistakes to Avoid in Retirement
If you Google “mistakes in retirement”, all the top hits are about money, applying for benefits, and the like. We believe it’s absolutely critical to have a solid financial plan for your retirement (and we can certainly help you make one). But there’s more to life — and retirement — than money. Every dimension of life will be hugely impacted as you retire.
Samantha Lane is a Transition Coach who partners with men and women to help them prepare for a meaningful retirement. In this guest post, she shares how to prepare for the non-financial transitions of retirement. If you want to know how to avoid the top mistakes retirees make, read on!
The transition to retirement is a huge disruption to your daily structure, your social circles, your identity and much more. However, it’s crucial to understand that this life change is not a cliff to jump off of, but an opportunity to build bridges to the life you want, grounded in your values and strengths.
As a Certified Life Coach, I’ve compiled the top six (non-financial) mistakes to avoid as you prepare to retire. These will help you make the kinds of intentional decisions that will address all aspects of your life so you can create the successful retirement you’re craving.
Let’s dive right in.
Mistake #1: Seeing Retirement As An Ending Rather Than A Beginning
Change is hard for everyone! It requires energy to pave new connections and habits (all those decisions can be exhausting!) and maintain your creativity… not to mention all the ways we tell ourselves we’re not ‘good enough’ for this next new thing. Your life is not ending! Retirement does not diminish who you are — or the skills you’ve refined and mastered and shared over the years.
Instead of a cliff, let’s build a bridge! Let this new season of no longer working be the invitation to new beginnings. People with a growth mindset are more likely to embrace challenges and persist (even in the face of failure)… which in turn will help you not only maintain your abilities and functions, but develop new ones.
What do you want to try? How do you want to grow? Build self-awareness on the things that light you up. Don’t look backwards… you’re not going that way.
Mistake #2: Thinking You Have To Have It All Figured Out
Remember when you graduated from high school or college, and everyone’s favorite question was “What are you going to do?” It’s very likely you’re hearing that same question (like a broken record) in this season of life as well. Just as we tried to lessen the pressure for our younger selves—fresh out of school and needing time to explore talents, passions, and strengths—it’s important to remember, in this retirement season, that you do not have to have it all figured out. Feeling the pressure to answer a confident “I know exactly what every day in retirement will look like for me!” may sound exaggerated and a bit dramatic, but when we’re feeling stuck, we look for anything to feel more stable. And we don’t like admitting that we don’t know—especially about our own lives.
Take a deep breath. Give yourself permission to explore, ask questions, make space for the figuring-out… and for the most important element: enjoying the process. This moment, right now, is a beautiful time. This right here has something for you to learn, enjoy, grow, let go of! Don’t miss it by rushing ahead to have it “all figured out”.
Mistake #3: Not Widening Your Web Of Relationships
We all have unique work connections and families. What many retirees are surprised to find is how small their circles shrink when it comes to social connections. You may find yourself missing the small group of coworkers who got together for lunch once a month – or even that person you simply said hello to every day as you walked to your office. Maintaining a wide circle of social connections will not just happen for you. There are all sorts of scary statistics about isolation and loneliness for seniors. You will need to plan for and create a healthy dose of social connections.
Be real with yourself on how much social time is the right balance for you and the people and relationships you want to foster. If they’re not already there, start building communities to interact with on a regular basis outside of your work community.
Do you know the single best predictor of how long you will live? It’s the quality of your close relationships and the level of your social integration! How many people do you talk to face-to-face as you go about your day?
“The single best predictor of how long you will live is the quality of your close relationships and the level of your social integration.”
Mistake #4: Picturing Retirement As 100% Vacation
We get it – you’re tired of clocking in! You long for the day where you have an open schedule to do exactly as you please. Cute umbrellas in your drink and endless games of golf may sound pretty attractive to you now when you’re maxed out on work, but too much rest and indulgence without purpose is not good for the soul. Vacations are fun—but they also have a start and end date when we return (hopefully) rejuvenated and energized back to our responsibilities. Build rest, fun, and rejuvenation into your retirement alongside your purpose and contributions.
Mistake #5: Thinking Health And Wellness Will Just Happen For You
The inertia of the couch is real! As we prepare to retire, we often mentally start a To-Do list…
- “I’ll lose that extra 10 pounds when I retire and have more time to work out.”
- “I’ll dust off those cookbooks when I retire and have the energy to try healthy recipes.”
- “I’ll schedule that check up with my doctor when I’m not so busy.”
Yes, you will notice more space and time in your daily schedule for these things, but they will not magically materialize. You are still you… with the same strengths and obstacles as the day before you retired. You are at the age when you’ll start seeing more and more health items to address. Make a plan! How do you like to move your body? What activities are energizing for you? What accountability do you need to put into place that is most helpful for you to enjoy the process and reach your goals?
Improving habits—or adding activities—will take intentional planning for you to be successful. Our health is such a gift. Design your action plan to prioritize health.
Mistake #6: Not Having a Trusted Sounding Board
Some of us have supportive family and friends, trusted confidants, and cheerleaders in our lives. Some of us don’t. Some of us are in happy, thriving marriages or romantic relationships. Some of us are missing our person… or those relationships are struggling. Regardless, overlooking the value of having a trusted, neutral sounding board may hold you back in retirement. It takes a lot of courage to talk about our dreams, our fears, our strengths, or our perceived inadequacies. When we do open up, it can be harmful if our loved ones don’t fully listen, or gloss over our dreams, or insert their opinions and fears into our story.
Find a person who can fully support you as you work out this transition and give you reflective feedback in a non-judgmental, encouraging way. Hire a coach! Partnering with a professional who is trained in assisting people through massive life changes such as retirement is a gift to yourself. Your coach can help you determine what’s working for you and what’s not, so you can make the quick course-corrections that will let you get back to enjoying your retirement.
Think about the other big decisions in your life.
- You hired a financial planner to project and protect your assets… (if not, reach out to Sound Stewardship!)
- You hired a lawyer when you sold your business…
- You paid a doctor to identify and treat that pain in your left knee…
Your life — your engagement, your purpose, your happiness — is just as important as all of those. Invest in yourself by partnering with others to develop your unique life plan in this retirement phase.
Let me walk you through the next right steps that will allow you to create a retirement with you in the driver’s seat—enjoying the view—rather than feeling like a free-fall.
Avoiding these retiree mistakes is a crucial part of making this next stage of life successful. It’s a tragedy when we see the finances work out perfectly, but a life falls apart for other reasons.
If you think you need help or want to learn more about how a coach helps through this transition, Certified Life Coach Samantha Lane offers a complimentary strategy session. Reach out for peace of mind about what comes next.