It might surprise you to learn that once one of our clients retires, they’ll usually call me up about a year or so later to tell me they’ve gotten another job. When I first got into this industry, this was a cause for concern on my end. Did they not feel financially secure? Did they want to review their income strategy? Had something happened in their lives that was going to cause a financial burden? Their answers always confused me: it wasn’t a financially-driven choice, they were just outright bored.
The job we do for our clients is, relatively speaking, the easiest part of retirement. At the end of the day, it comes down to number crunching paired with some financial know-how to build a retirement game plan. I don’t have to do any sort of soul-searching when explaining mutual fund fees or how a certain annuity product works. The hardest part is on you—because, after all these years of working, you’ve got to find something else to do with your time.
The general current estimate is that you spend about 2000 hours a year working, assuming you’re clocking in 40 hours per week. Let’s say that you’re 65 when you retire, and you hope to live for about another 25 years. That’s 50000 hours you’ll have to fill up with something that isn’t work—quite a lot of time to spend on a hobby or traveling! I’m sure most people read that and think I’m crazy. Vacations, hobbies, family time, house projects, there is an endless amount to do—and if you’re still working, you just don’t have the time.
I was dumbfounded when I saw so many of my clients seeking new jobs or going back to their old ones based on having nothing to fill their time with. The first few I saw I’d assumed a weird coincidence, but you can only have so many “coincidences” until it turns into an outright trend. When I finally asked one of my early clients why on earth he’d ever go back to his old job, he pointed out that golfing and fishing are great…but not when you can do them every single day, for as long as you want.
His statements made it click for me. When you’re working a 9-to-5 job, you enjoy your hobbies on the weekends or going on vacations because it’s a rare treat. Once you can do them all the time, they quickly begin to lose the appeal they once had. They just become “that thing I do every day since I don’t work now”—not a great way to think of your passion projects!
On top of this is the fact that many retirees allow themselves to get into a slump. Studies show that as the baby boomer generation enters their retirement years, a sharp uptick in cases of depression in late middle-aged and elderly populations has occurred. This is due to several factors, but the biggest I’ve seen is that some lose their sense of self when they’re no longer employed. Their routine is gone, they’re spending more time at home than ever before, and ultimately retirement can make some dwell on the fact that they are aging and may have to slow down compared to their younger selves.1
I certainly don’t want to see any retiree struggle with something like that, so for once my advice this is week is not financial. Instead, I’ve got a harder task for you: think about what you want to do for the rest of your life.
Let’s assume you get all your house projects done, you take the dream vacations you want, and you’ve got plenty of time with your family. After those things are done, what do you want to do? W
e’re talking big picture here too; this must be something that you can imagine doing day-in-day-out for years. Volunteering, keep working, backpack across the world? There’s no right or wrong answer, but there needs to be an answer. My team can help you build a retirement financial plan, but we can’t tell you how to live your retirement.
I’ll leave you with this: if you had 50,000 hours to do whatever you wanted once you hit 65…what do you want to do with them?