Before you retire you will hear all kinds of stories of what it is like to live the life of a full time retiree. Whether it’s Uncle Bob sharing stories of how much the world has changed (typically for the worse) or Grandma Williams reliving those most special moments from past decades, words of wisdom are seldom lacking. Many describe initial struggles adapting to new roles as they leave behind full time employment. Most share their new found excitement discovering the joy of controlling how you spend your time. A few may explicitly outline what not to do if you hope for a fulfilling retirement experience. Everyone has a story and everyone has advice.

Living your own retirement is a very personal journey. You will be the one making important decisions along the way. Should there be a fork in the road you choose which path to follow.

I think it is helpful to begin your second act in a state of curious attentiveness. There is no way you can know all there is to know so why not approach retirement as an on-going education. Beware mistakes survived by others and be adaptable.

Over my past years of blogging about retirement numerous people have shared personal experiences as they navigate their own retirement jungle. Some relate wonderful tales while others find they have had to deal with more than their share of challenges. I believe a good way to maximize the positives in my own retirement is by listening to real life experiences of those who have gone before me.

Here are some words of wisdom shared by those strolling down the retirement road.

It’s not just about money

Nothing prepared me for all the emotional challenges after I retired. Looking back, the financial part was a piece of cake compared to structuring a life after retirement.

There are hundreds of websites, books, articles, and seminars focused on getting your financial house in order prior to retirement. Yes this is critically important but so is having a game plan for how you hope to live the next 10 to 20 or even 30 years.

As far as a healthy fiscal retirement, we nailed it by living within our means, no debt and making practical decisions. One thing to ponder is why we can’t “feel” the fiscal richness. I can see my net worth, and it gives us tremendous comfort, but we still love a bargain, vacation within reason, buy new but reasonably priced cars, only buy items on sale… etc. you get it. But we will never spend it all, and especially because who wants to pay all those taxes?

After a lifetime of saving and doing without it can be difficult to allow yourself the freedom to enjoy the fruits of your labors. Frugality is wise but don’t let too much of a good thing cause you to do without the well-deserved pleasures retirement affords you.

Adjusting to retirement can take time

It took me about two years to settle in, i.e. lack of purpose, I felt like a disposable human by my profession and my kids… My wonderful husband helped me to see my value.

Becoming comfortable in your new life as a retiree is not something you should rush. Take time to test the waters. Don’t feel pressured to conform to anyone’s time frame but yours. Finding the way to your individual retirement happiness is a journey well worth the effort and patience required along the way.

Don’t wait too long to pursue your dreams

I am so glad that through all my adult years I never said no to doing exciting things and enjoying the experiences that came my way. So many people put off doing until they are retired, and so many never get to do their dreams.

Retirement is a wonderful time to do all those things you never had time to. But don’t wait too long. Life has a funny way of throwing unexpected surprises into the mix. Do those most important things while you still can.

It is up to each of us to find ways to stay engaged

I’m adequately prepared for retirement financially. I’ve just turned 66 and still enjoy my work.  I like being busy and enjoy the social interaction. The big uncertainty for me is what will I do to fill my days.                      

I have been retired for one year and need some guidance on how to put passion into my retirement life’s goals and dreams. I’m floundering and didn’t realize I needed to plan for my new acquired uncommitted time.

Many spend more time planning for a two week vacation than planning for retirement. If you hope to get the most of your second act get ready ahead of time. Plan and prepare. Don’t waste that free time so dreamed of by those still chained to the work wheel. This is your chance to explore your passions, try new things, take chances, and expand your interests.

The future looks bright

Marriage, children, grandkids, career, have all given life meaning, purpose, sorrow and immense joy along the way. As I reflect back, all was in preparation for the best adventure to come…retirement.

I love being retired. I continue to learn and make adjustments. I don’t expect to get everything right but am hopeful I will get more right than not. Days are filled with opportunity, some uncertainty, optimism, and great expectations.

It is a wonderful journey…and that’s the truth.


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