I’ve worked with a lot of clients who are nearing retirement. One of the biggest conversations I have with them is: what are they retiring TO?
When thinking of retirement, it’s just as important to decide what you’re retiring to as well as decide what you’re retiring with. So, how do you decide what that “to” is?
The bigger conversation
I think that this conversation needs to start by recognizing the fact that what you’re retiring to is about so much more than just retirement. Recently, there was a paper that came out about the idea of “flow.” It’s defined as the state where someone feels completely content in their life.
You might know it as happiness 😉
So many people think that getting to retirement means that they’ve “made it.” But then…
They retire and discover that they’re absolutely miserable. This happens more often than you think, which is why I’ve started having larger conversations with my clients who are getting close to and planning for retirement.
The biggest conversation of all: what will make you happy during this time?
The four elements of ‘happy’
I know you’re probably thinking… “But, Hannah, this blog is supposed to be about finances!”
Yes, that’s true. And the thing that I’ve found is that people will use money in order to fill in those gaps when they aren’t aware of what those gaps are. Oftentimes, we use money as a substitute when we aren’t feeling fulfilled in one or more areas of life. So yep! Happiness and money management are one and the same!
Humans are social creatures. To be happy, we need to be involved in activities that involve other humans. Examine the places you have social interaction and ask yourself: is that enough?
I’m not the best user of routines, but I can tell you that when I’m careful to stick to a few of the most important routines, I feel a heck of a lot better! Routines help prioritize what’s most important to you on your calendar.
We need a challenge in life. We’re wired for that, for things that push us and make us grow. Everyone’s challenge is going to look different. But it’s important that you find a challenge you actually enjoy doing!
Lastly, we need measurable goals. We need to be able to see progress in our list – it’s an inherently human desire.
There’s an exercise I do with all of my clients when we’re having a conversation about happiness in retirement. I even do this exercise with myself sometimes!
What I want you to do is get a piece of paper and list out the four elements I just told you. Then, list out what it is that you ARE doing in your life to fulfill that element. Once you’ve finished that, you’ll have a very clear picture of the gaps that you need to fulfill in order to lock down all four elements.
Now, list out your dream retirement situation. What would you be doing on a daily or weekly basis? How would you fill your time? Then, put the four elements at the top of your paper and ask whether or not those dream activities fulfill all four elements. Ideally, you’ll end up with a few activities that fulfill all four at once!
The thing is, many retirement lists are bucket lists. And while that’s great, bucket lists often take 6-18 months. Once you’re finished with that bucket list, you have no more structured activity in life.
What I’ve seen is that the people who have structured activities they do regularly that fulfill the four elements of happiness end up much more content, which means they’re better at managing their money.
You don’t have to save it for retirement
The thing about money management is that it’s a lifelong process. When you feel unfulfilled in life, even if you’re nowhere near retirement yet, it will often lead to overspending as you try to fill those gaps.
If you happen to be going through any sort of life change or period of difficulty with managing your money, I strongly encourage you to try this exercise and ask yourself if you’re fulfilling all four of these elements.
Resources Mentioned in This Episode
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- Use our BudgetingBlocks™ to plan a financial future that includes the highs and lows of the market. A good budget includes all possible financial scenarios and helps you see where your money is going!
- Evaluate your money with our Live Wealthy Now resource library. You’ll find a balance calculator in there, along with budgeting tools, values exercises, and more.