What image do you see when you think about the word “retirement”? The image that pops into my head is me sitting in a lounge chair on a beach somewhere (I don’t even like the beach!).
I’m convinced that the financial industry has programmed this picture in my brain, and it’s an image of endless recreation. And while more leisure time is a major benefit of retirement, you were created for more than just a life of leisure.
You were made to work (even in retirement!). God calls you to use your gifts, talents, and abilities to serve Him and serve others. Just because you retire from your job doesn’t mean that you’re finished doing the work God has for you.
Retirement can be an enjoyable stage of life, but only if you plan well for it. Here are 3 questions you should ask yourself to ensure a successful retirement.
What am I retiring to?
Make it a point to know your purpose before you retire.
Not everyone is happy in retirement. In fact, studies show that about 25% of retirees go back to work within 6 months. In my experience, the happiest retirees are the ones that know their purpose. They retire “to” something rather than “from” something.
This excellent TED Talk can help you discover purpose and meaning as you approach retirement: The Most Productive Years of Your Life May Surprise You.
If you know what you’re retiring “to”, then you will have a better handle on the next question that you should ask before you retire, which is…
How will I spend my time?
Every one of us has 168 hours per week to spend. As we get older, that time becomes more valuable. As a retiree, how will you spend those 168 hours each week?
You may think that golfing every day in retirement sounds enjoyable (I agree!). But even if you golf every day of the week for 5 hours a day, that’s only 35 hours out of 168. What will you do with the rest of your time?
Use this worksheet to help you get a better idea of how you will spend your time in retirement.
Once you think through how you’ll spend your time, you’ll have a better handle on the third question you should ask before you retire…
How will I pay for it?
You’ll want to know if you can sustainably support your lifestyle as you pursue your purpose and other hobbies and interests in retirement. Maybe you have to work part-time, or maybe you decide to start a business, or you might just live off of investment income and social security. In any case, you will need to pragmatically consider how you’ll pay for your retirement.
This is where a good financial planner can help you. A financial planner can help you determine how much you’ll need to support your lifestyle in retirement. In addition, a good planner will examine all of your income sources to determine a tax-efficient income solution to meet your needs.
If you seek professional help from a financial planner, look for one that has signed a fiduciary oath, meaning he or she is required to act in your best interests.
You were created to do good works until you leave the earth. Instead of viewing retirement as a finish line, you should view it as a launching pad to continue the work that God has given you.
“There needs to be enough purpose to wake up in the morning and enough money to sleep at night.” – Mitch Anthony
About the Author: This post originally appeared on Three Nine Financial. Ben Malick is the founder of Three Nine Financial, a firm focused on helping clients live out their faith through the management of their financial resources. If you would like to learn more about Ben or Three Nine Financial, you can reach him via Linkedin.