In my years as a financial advisor I have helped dozens of clients retire. Most very successfully and a few not so successfully. I have been with them through the thought process leading up to their decision to leave their career. The analysis, the planning, the scheduling. And despite what most may think, retiring is hard. Not the act itself, but rather the decision to retire, is extremely difficult for many.
I was reminded of this recently when I read an article titled “The Strongest Predictor of Men’s Well Being isn’t Family or Health.” Written by Leah Fessler and published in Quartz at Work back in 2018, the article summarizes a study performed with the University of London. Titled the 2018 Harry’s Masculinity Report, the study surveyed 5000 men between ages 18-95.
So, if family or health is not the best indication of satisfaction for men, what is? Work. More specifically, meaningful work where one is using their own unique talents and making a difference. All other aspects of the respondent’s life including contentment at home, relationships, family and overall satisfaction with their life – all flow from the men being satisfied at work. Most clients, both men and women in my experience, realize this fact when trying to make the decision to retire. Prior to the actual decision to leave, folks are too busy with the planning and analysis to consider the role their work is playing in their overall happiness. When they do realize the importance of their work in their life, it becomes very difficult to walk away from that which most identifies them and gives them such purpose.
This follows with another article I mention frequently in my retirement workshops. The article was titled “ How I Flunked Retirement” and was written by Lee Iacocca, the former auto executive. Iacocca attributes his failed retirement to his lack of purpose and his inability to contribute to some larger cause on a regular basis. He spent his lifetime focusing on his work and never gave much thought to how he would spend his time once he left his career. He disliked retirement so much he went back to work not soon after. He was simply happier when he was working, making a difference and using his talents. His advice, which I share with clients often, is to Retire to something, not from Something.
Successful retirement is not simply about your finances. Of course ensuring you have a source of sufficient and recurring income is a large part of your decision to retire. But what may be just as important in your planning, is determining how you will contribute, make a difference and be part of something larger than yourself. Our clients who have done just that, are most content and happy with their decision to leave their careers. Those without such a plan, frankly, struggle with all aspects of their life once retired, consistent with the results of the Harry’s Study.
Mapping out how you will utilize the talents you have spent a lifetime building could just be the key to a successful retirement. Planning Makes it Possible.
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