The Anatomy of a Wildly Successful Retirement

  • Mark Edwards ·
  • January 5, 2021

The vast majority of people spend their entire lives working to save up enough money to retire in comfort. But when they finally achieve that goal, they feel a little weird. They’ve stopped working, but they don’t feel any different than before. If anything, they experience more stress because they believe that they should finally be having a good time – and they’re not.

Existential angst is a real problem and something that you need to address before you leave your regular, money-generating occupation. You don’t want to hit your mid-sixties and only then begin to think about the bigger questions in life. It’s a process that should start way before you hand in your notice to your employer.

Successful retirements involve more than just lounging on a beach and sipping cocktails. You need challenge, discipline, and rigor. Fundamentally, retirement should be an opportunity for you to revisit your childhood. You’ve worked all your life, met your material needs – now’s the time to have some fun, and plan your legacy.

Do you want a wildly successful retirement? Read the following ideas:

Don’t Give up Work Altogether

While a life of leisure might sound great after a seventy-hour working week, most people respond poorly to it. On the face of it, it seems luxurious, but the reality of it is quite different, especially if you’re a purpose-driven person.

The trick here is to find the type of work you’d do if you didn’t have to work for money. It doesn’t mean going back to your old accounting firm or working in a grocery store. It means finding a vocation that benefits you and others but doesn’t necessarily reward you in the same way as a regular career.

Start by thinking about this now. What would you do with your time if earning money wasn’t the overriding factor? Usually, something will immediately pop into your head that feels perfect for you. It could be writing, painting, playing music, or volunteering. Whatever it is, make purpose the center of it.

Take up a Lifetime Learning Challenge

Just because you’ve retired, it doesn’t mean your education has to come to an end. There’s still a world of subjects out there, waiting for you to explore.

Is there something you didn’t get the chance to do at school? If so, retirement is the place to do it. Perhaps, you never learned how to abseil or do calculus. Pick a topic that interests you and pursue it. Try to become a real expert in it. All pleasure ultimately comes from skill.

Invest Early

People in the twenties and thirties imagine that saving for retirement is only something they need to worry about once they hit fifty or sixty years of age. But that’s not how it works.

The reason people wind up with retirement money problems usually has very little to do with their incomes. Instead, it comes primarily from their inability to save early in life.

The amount of money you have to put away to have enough when you retire is actually surprisingly small if you start the process early enough. When it comes to building wealth, time is your friend. Practically anyone can do it, provided you start early enough.

Most people are surprised to find out that they can build mountainous wealth from relatively small savings early in life. Putting away just 5 percent of your paycheck in your early twenties can balloon to more than a million dollars by your late sixties, even if you don’t save at any other point in your life. It seems impossible, but it’s not.

Plan Your Legacy

The joy of retirement is often tinged with a bit of sadness. You’re in your twilight years and worried about ill-health.

In this context, it’s often nice to think about your legacy – the part of you that will remain once you’re gone.

Some aspects of this can be simple things like thinking about which cemetery grave markers you’d like for your final resting place. But you can also create something that will have a lasting impact in the real world.

The legacy you leave could have something to do with your career. For instance, you might ensure that you leave your business in good management so that it continues to thrive long-term. It could also have something to do with your charity work. For example, you could leave a large sum of money to a local hospice and get them to name a wing after you.

How you create a personal legacy is very much an artistic endeavor. No two people are alike.

Set Your Topline Spending Limit

You don’t know how long you’re going to live. Don’t assume that your life will follow the same trajectory as previous generations. Researchers are coming up with new and interesting drugs to extend people’s lives all the time. At some point, these interventions are going to become mainstream, and the average person could see their hundredth birthday.

In light of this, it’s a good idea to set your topline spending limit so that you preserve your principal. You don’t want a situation where you’re drawing down on your pension pot when you have forty years to live.

Think carefully about your health and how it is likely to evolve. Usually, your doctor will be able to give you a heads-up on the state of your biomarkers and use that to estimate your likely life expectancy.

Of course, if you know you’re coming to the end of your life soon, then being frugal isn’t so important. So long as you have money for care, you’re okay.

Define Regular Goals

Lastly, many retirees find it useful to continue defining goals. Sometimes you can get stuck in a rut during retirement, thinking about where your life is going. Having goals helps to counteract this.

Retirement planning should encompass all your life goals, both social, moral, and financial. It’s not all about consumption or leisure, but also finding purpose and something to strive for now that you no longer have to work for money.

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