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Week 13: Your happiest retirement ever


By Sam Instone - April 01, 2021

Imagine you finally reach your ideal retirement.

Each morning you wake up full of energy and purpose, ready to take on the day and achieve more of your life goals.

You’re surrounded by things and people you love and spend time doing things you love.

While retirement means different things to different people, this is ultimately the feeling we all want.

It makes our decades of hard work so worthwhile.

This week, I was inspired to write on the topic of retirement after hearing about Gary Chapman, President of Emirates Group, announcing he’ll be retiring. He spent 32 years (44 in Dubai) with the UAE’s most well-known brand and plans to enjoy his non-working days in his garden in the Cotswolds.

It made me think about how many of us characterise our identity by the role we play: pilot, executive, doctor, engineer, architect, business owner. When you retire and that role ends, how do you establish your new identity? What is your purpose in life?

This article by Robin Powell talks about how to give meaning to your retirement goals. He references the book, Your Retirement Quest by Alan Spector and Keith Lawrence which identifies the “10 key elements of a fulfilling retirement.” These are:

  1. Life purpose
  2. Passions
  3. Attitude
  4. Financial security
  5. Giving back
  6. Healthy relationships
  7. Growth
  8. Fun
  9. Well-being
  10. Retirement life plan

When your retirement plan accounts for all 10 of these elements, you can lead a worry-free, rich retirement.

I’m fascinated by how high-performance executives and business owners make the shift from high-pressure careers to leisurely days where time takes on new meaning. I recently read about those on the cusp of retirement who choose to spend a gap year studying. Adult professionals (Gen-Xers and Boomers) are dedicating their time to learn new skills that will better prepare them for their next chapter.

Hotel entrepreneur Chip Conley, 60, for instance, founded the Modern Elder Academy, in Baja, Mexico, dedicated to midlife learning. “For decades, we’ve learned of the value of lifelong learning,” said Conley. “This is why we’re seeing the emergence of ‘long life learning’ focused on helping mid-lifers, and beyond, live a life that is as deep and meaningful as it is long.

Why do most of us want to get wealthy? Often, it’s not for the money, but for the time. When employed correctly, time becomes an amplifier. When spent without consideration, it becomes a persistent source of regret. Very often it’s only near the end of our lives that we realise time’s true value. Make every moment count.

Here’s a powerful story about time cut short. It’s a personal account of a man whose father was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis – and the inevitable life changes that came with it for the entire family. He specifically touches on the need for a caring financial planner who can help you manage your wealth and health. As one financial planner, Rick Kahler, puts it in his column: financial planners are really in the wellness business.

When it comes to retirement, not many realise the rising cost of healthcare. This piece talks about health and wealth planning converging in the future. Retirement planning usually implies wealth planning but broadening the scope to include long-term personal health planning will be the most logical and successful way to retire.

To end off, I’d like to touch on the 'u-curve of happiness'. In country after country, survey after survey always shows that we’re happy in our youth, then our happiness tends to decline, bottoming out around our late 40s, then it rises again until we become happiest of all in our later years.

Happiness u curve

As Scott Galloway, Professor and blogger, explains:

“The curve of happiness is the shape of a smile. Youth is replete with beer, college, and making out. We then graduate to job stress trying to forge our career, and someone we love gets sick and dies. In our thirties and forties we realize we won’t be a senator or have a fragrance named after us. And then something happens — our satisfaction and happiness turns upwards as we age and realize we have so much to be grateful for.”

 

A question for you:

What will make your retirement days the happiest ever? Have you planned to make the most of that time?

 

This week's meditations

"The days are long but the decades are short."
Sam Altman


"A man who dares to waste an hour of time has not discovered the value of his life."
Charles Darwin

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Have a great weekend and enjoy the ‘light’ reading! 

 

Robin Powell's blog 'Money is only one aspect of retirement planning'

Kerry Hannon's 'Using your second act to make ‘a dent in the universe

Chip Conley's Modern Elder Academy

Farnum Street's 'The Shortness of Time'

The New York Times' article 'Dad, a Death Sentence and the Planner Who Set Us Straight ...'

Rick Kahler's 'Advisors are in the Wellness Business'

Philip Pearlman on 'The Convergence of Health and Wealth Planning'

Financial Times post 'Life Two: What we used to call ‘retirement’'

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