Practice Makes Perfect, Even When Planning for Retirement

“How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”

“Practice.”

Although this is an old joke about a lost tourist in Manhattan, the same punchline applies to: “What’s the best way to ensure a happy retirement?”

Practice.

Yes, that’s right. You should “practice retirement.” According to the 2018 Global Retirement Reality Report, only about half of Americans are happy in retirement even with financial security. If more retirees would have practiced retirement before retiring, the number of happy retirees would increase substantially.

The Unhappy Aspects of Retirement

The usual reasons for an unhappy retirement include:

  • Inability to adapt to a new daily routine
  • Loss of work friends
  • Loss of professional identity
  • Boredom from too much free time
  • Tensions in the spousal relationship created by role changes

For most retirees, transitioning to a completely different lifestyle does not come easy. They fail to consider the huge emotional changes that retirement brings. By “practicing retirement,” one can test the waters and prepare to react and adapt to those changes.

Tips for Practicing Retirement Before You Retire

  1. Don’t go cold turkey. Depending on your practice area and law firm, slowing down can be a realistic possibility. Start by taking a day off each week. If you don’t do well simply taking one day off, you’re in for a hard time during retirement.
  2. Seek out fulfilling activities while working full-time. Try doing some pro bono work, volunteer in areas outside of the law or try a new hobby. Not sure what to do? Conduct a quick online search for some ideas. The sky’s the limit for what you can choose to fill your time with.
  3. Just do it. Try retirement before Experiment and learn. While it’s not necessarily too late to do this after retiring, you can save a lot of time and trouble by doing this sooner rather than later.

Learn Lessons From Recent Events

If you’re like me, you may have gotten a sneak preview of retirement while sheltering in place this past spring. Your routine may have been turned upside. Further, if you had no children at home, you probably had more free time than what you were used to.

Did you learn any lessons during this pandemic? How do you now feel about retirement? Reflect back on how you did and use your learnings to help you move forward toward a happier retirement.

Retirement Is About More Than Just Numbers

Planning for retirement involves a lot more than pensions, social security, IRA’s and 401(k)s. These are only some of the pieces to the retirement puzzle. Don’t forget about the other pieces that affect your day-to-day life and overarching happiness.

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– Owners, small Mankato, MN, law firm

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