At Dunston Financial Group, we regularly help our clients make the transition from their career years into retirement. For most, retirement is a major milestone, as well as a significant lifestyle change. In order to make the transition into retirement as successful as possible, our friends over at WealthManagement.com recently offered up the following list of some of the more qualitative things prospective retirees should be thinking about:
- Encourage clients in their 40s and 50s to begin a wish list of things they want to accomplish, places they want to visit, and things they want to learn. Help them start on a few now, and keep adding to the list over time. This keeps clients dreaming continuously, rather than waiting until retirement to achieve all their dreams.
- Involve both members of a client couple in discussions about retirement. Watch for differing expectations (i.e. he expects to retire to the cottage on the lake, while she expects they will finally sell the cottage and move to Arizona.) Work to help them get in sync.
- Golf, sailing, or any other enjoyable activities can get old fast if they are the only focus of life. Prompt clients to expand their thinking. If they want to volunteer, encourage spending an hour or two per week volunteering now until they find a good fit; this way they already have relationships and feel comfortable in that setting. Likewise, they can research community colleges and available options for classes they’d like to take when they retire. The transition is easier when clients retire “to” something interesting.
- Engage in an exercise with clients to help them determine what brings them the most satisfaction from their job. Is it security? Status? Variety? Meaningful purpose? As they define more specifically the personal needs filled by the job, they can begin imagining how to fill those same needs in alternate ways after retirement.
- Suggest to clients that retirement is a process, not an event. Recommend, for example, that they plan lunch or coffee a couple times a week for several months to personally thank colleagues. They may also take pictures of the office a month before retirement, then gradually take things down. As they do so, acknowledge the mixed emotions by asking what they look forward to, and what they will miss most.
- As the day nears, suggest that clients plan at least one activity a month that they look forward to—visiting adult children, a sports game, or a museum they haven’t had time to explore.
- Encourage clients to stay in close touch with a doctor during the transition, as one’s mood, immune system, and overall health are affected by major life changes. Especially watch for signs of depression like listlessness, sleeping too much, weight loss or gain, purposelessness, or inability to get out of bed.
- Remind clients that it may take a while before they feel comfortable in the new chapter. Each retirement is different, and no one can predict a particular person’s path.