KEEPING ACTIVE – DAVE BERNARD-When we finally decide to exit the working world to enter the ranks of the retired, each of us will experience our own personal retirement. We are unique human beings with differing motivations, passions and fears. What works for you may not be quite what I have in mind. The beauty of it is we are free to follow whatever path we decide is best and most rewarding according to our individual preferences. Freedom of choice is one of the major benefits of retirement.

Although there are no universally applicable steps to insure a fulfilling retirement, I believe there are some guidelines that can apply across the board. In the final chapter of my book “I Want To Retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree To Be”, I propose a list of what I believe to be the top 10 considerations for the soon to be retired. Here are a few samples taken from that list.

Be easy on yourself

As you transition into retirement, you are leaving behind a working you that required your constant attention and focused effort. You had things to do, you got them done on schedule and you felt good about your achievements. And you probably rarely if ever wasted your time. As you begin to live your retired lifestyle, things are different. You do not have to be productive every minute of every day. You have the luxury to kick back and enjoy life at a more leisurely pace. Unfortunately for many this sudden transition can be difficult. It is not easy to turn off behavior that has evolved over a 30 year career. But it is important to realize there is nothing wrong with doing nothing. Take it easy on yourself as you transition into this new role that you have no past experience with. There is plenty of time later on to look for meaningful pursuits to populate your day. For now, see if you can go with the flow and take things down a little from the hectic working world you have recently exited.

Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone

At this stage in your life you are likely pretty settled and comfortable with the person you are. You know your limitations, are familiar with your interests and are hopefully content with the life you live. Life is what it is and although not necessarily pulse-quickening, it is safe and predictable.  But what about excitement and diversity? When was the last time you did something new and different? Some may feel they are too old to try something unfamiliar, to explore new horizons. But if not now, when will you get out there and experiment? In retirement you have the freedom to do what you want and more importantly you finally have the time. There is so much to explore and experience even though not everything may be in your comfort zone. Now I am not proposing you take up skydiving or bungee jumping, but if you limit yourself today you may look back with regret down the road. A little adventure can keep you young at heart.

Try to live below your means

Living on a fixed income can feel constraining and a bit limiting as we move into our second act. But for many retirees, it is the reality. The good news is that living a fulfilling retirement does not require tons of money. Yes you want enough to pay the bills without lying awake at night worrying. But if you are careful and pay attention to where the money is going, there is no reason you cannot maximize the bang for your retirement buck. There are numerous ways to live frugally while at the same time enjoying a full life. And if you are able to figure out the details and live within or below your means, you can kiss goodbye those stressful moments of financial worrying. If each month you spend less than your investments and savings generate, you are ahead of the curve. What a relief! Moreover, it will be beneficial for you if you will think of socially responsible investments.

Have no regrets

No one wants to be that guy on his death bed bemoaning the fact that he should have spent his time differently. Few will complain about not spending more time at the office or increasing their net worth. More likely the sadness is for not spending more time with family and friends, doing what really mattered and following what they were truly passionate about. It is easy to get caught up in the whole making money for money’s sake. But how much do you really need to be happy? The good news is that in retirement, you finally have free time. The responsibility is yours to spend it wisely, to maximize your happiness, and to have no regrets

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