Catherine L. Farrar

Article Summary:

Retirement living is easy when you follow these 10 steps.

Top Ten Steps to Retirement Living

1. “What do you mean, you hate to travel?”
Have you and your spouse actually sat down and discussed how each of you envisions retirement? If your dreams are completely opposite of your spouse’s, both of you are going to be disappointed. Honestly talk about them before you get the gold watch. Be creative and open to compromise, so both of your dreams can come true.

2. “You mean, you’re here ALL the time, now?”
Spending all this quality time together may seem like a wonderful idea, but remember, you both have daily routines, some of which may have been 30 years in the making. Also, you’re not used to spending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in each other’s company. Experienced retirees say this is such a big adjustment, they’d recommend pre-retirement counseling along the lines of marriage counseling! Recognize and respect the needs both of you have for space, as well as each other’s routines.

3. Money matters, and so does peace of mind.
If you haven’t already, consult with a financial advisor to discuss how to best manage your assets for the long haul, as people are living longer and longer. Revisit your health and life insurance policies. Update or write your will, and consider a Living Will or Advanced Health Care Directive to help guide your loved ones through a difficult time.

4. Use it or lose it.
It’s not just a cliché. Maintaining some level of regular physical exercise, whether it’s walking, gardening, or golf, can help improve balance, and retain flexibility. If you feel like you need an ejector seat in your Lazy-Boy, start small, but start, before you solidify!

5. Where did I put my keys?
What’s good for the body is good for the mind. Studies have shown that working your mind is key to staying mentally sharp. Experts recommend a daily crossword puzzle, or a game of Scrabble® along with your vitamins and apple a day.

6. Set limits.
“Oh, Mom can do that; she’s retired.” Your time doesn’t become less valuable once you retire – although others may seem to think so. There’s nothing wrong with helping out, so long as you’re not ignoring yourself. Remember to respect your own time and plans; and soon others will, too.

7. Clean out your closets.
As many retirees and empty-nesters downsize into apartments or smaller homes, they realize that they just don’t have the room for everything anymore. Rather than waiting until the last minute and feeling overwhelmed with the size of the job, start now and take small bites. Clean out your closets and put together a bag for the Salvation Army or Goodwill. Give that old table to a college kid, just starting out. Who knows, you might find something worth taking on “Antiques Roadshow!” Plus, your kids will thank you for it.

8. “So, what do you do?”
Ever get the feeling that people stop listening once you tell them you’re retired? One of the hardest parts of retirement life is realizing how your job made you feel appreciated, competent and maybe even powerful. Your talents, skills and gifts didn’t evaporate when you walked out the door on your last day. The first step is recognizing what you got out of the job – it was more than just having a place to go every day. Step 2 is finding new outlets for all you have to offer.

9. Try something new.
Now’s the perfect time to live out that long hidden dream, learn a new skill, take a class or pick up that hobby you dropped because you just didn’t have the time. If anything seems the least bit interesting, learn more about it. Become an expert in something. Learn to cook Indian food. Try Tai Chi. If you don’t like it, try something else!

10. It’s not just about you.
As mentioned above, your talents, skills and gifts don’t have a limited shelf life. Consider using them to give back to the world. Your most valuable asset is your time – and your church, your local volunteer agencies and a whole host of others are waiting in line. Check out or check your local paper for something that intrigues you, even if it’s completely different than anything else you’ve ever done. It’s never too late to start on your personal legacy.

Catherine L. Farrar graduated in 2001 with an MBA in finance and accounting from New York University’s Stern School of Business. As a life coach she helped people transition from a full-time career to full- or part-time retirement. She currently works in the the financial sector.

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