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The Need To Re-Open Retirement

The Need To Re-Open Retirement

By Richard Haiduck

This blog is aimed first and foremost to those 75+ helpful people who told me about their retirement, as input for the book I am writing. It was a privilege to me to hear your stories about how this generation of Baby Boomers is reinventing itself in its retirement.

Climbing tall mountains, volunteering to build houses, loving the RV life, teaching anger management to convicts, doing a documentary in Gaza, and dealing with the loss of a house to a fire. This generation challenges its limits, and tries new things.

But wait a minute. How are all of you doing on those great plans now? Is your original map of retirement still legit?

I noticed the other day how much I was anticipating the arrival of the mailman. And remembering how I used to tease my father about his anticipation of the mail.

And when is the last time you had a group of friends over for a fun evening? And is travel something you even think about these days? Are you regressing to the kind of retirement done by your parent’s generation and which you swore would never be you?

Our generation are the vulnerable ones. Fauci and Gupta have made it clear that our age group is the most vulnerable to the virus. It would be easy to conclude we just have to sit this one out, and try to get back to our original retirement plan as conditions allow at some uncertain time in the future.

But our generation has a second vulnerability, equally important, but not quite as obvious.

Our second vulnerability is that the clock is ticking. Our time is getting shorter overall. In addition, how much longer are those knees good for? What are the time constraints of retirement, but also of active retirement.

If we are going to have a great retirement, we need to press on, and keep challenging our limits. Think of it as a second reinvention. We reinvented ourselves once for our first retirement. Now we need to reinvent a second time for the changed circumstances. Adjustments for the virus will be part of those plans, but so is figuring out a new set of retirement goals that can co-exist with healthy practices. Think of the process as finding your new normal for your retirement.

If you accept the need for a second reinvention, you each will have your own way of thinking through your situation and coming up with a new plan. Here are some examples of questions that may help you assess your circumstances, and come up with a new way of approaching retirement.

Some broader questions about your overall direction:

  • Self-assessment of how your retirement was going at the start of 2020.
    • What were the activities that gave you the most joy? What concerns did you have about your retirement?
  • Self-assessment of how you are doing during stay at home orders.
    • Are there some things that you have added that you would like to now continue? Are you doing zoom calls with family and friends more frequently? Do you have any new or expanded hobbies that you would like to include in your new plan? Have your relationships changed in any lasting ways?

A partial list of more specific questions worth considering:

  • How have your leisure activities changed? What should be your new normal?
    • I know both Deb and Barb are now doing paint by numbers, which was never on their radar screen before.
  • If you were an active volunteer, how do you adjust to the changed environment for the organization for whom you volunteered? Are there other volunteer activities that have emerged that might also be interesting for you?
  • Have your relationships evolved? Have you had any gains and losses recently? Is it time to try computer dating?
  • Was travel an important part of your retirement plan? Is a 50 mile drive to a Carmel weekend more likely to be in the cards, compared to a trip to Australia?
  • Are you broke? Some people on fixed income have said their expenses are lower, and they actually are in better financial shape now. Do you need to adjust your expenses? Should you consider some gig work?
  • How is your health? Several retirees have told me that they are now exercising with much greater regularity, including John who does up to 4 hours on some days. Jim is getting a new shoulder. Do you need to make any adjustments to your new retirement plan because of changes in your health?

You get the picture. You reinvented yourself once; now you need to go through the process again. This time you have the learning from your “first retirement” along with what you learned during stay at home orders. So you are smarter about the process this time.

I’ve seen how this group of 75 interviewees got it mostly right the first time. Second time should be a piece of cake. Indecisive inertia is not the answer. Get out in front of this second reinvention and figure out your new normal.

Richard Haiduck is a retired life science executive and author of upcoming Tales of Retirement, a book about the retirement experiences of his fellow baby boomers and how they are actively reinventing themselves in this stage of their lives. Along with currently enjoying his own retirement, he is also a mentor at the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship. You can contact Richard through his website.

This post was originally published on Richard Haiduck and has been reprinted with permission.

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