At any given time in our adult life, we focus our energy and consciousness in one or more areas of attention such as our family, health, and work or career. We lead our lives seeking fulfillment in these areas and our level of satisfaction is often very high.
But in other aspects, we wish we had the time and resources to increase our degree of contentment, especially during the years leading to retirement. For example, we may want to travel more, or to spend more time in volunteering activities and in helping others.
Areas with lower levels of satisfaction are often in our ‘to do’ list. But these don’t necessarily form the foundation of a balanced and fulfilling retirement, because all of these life areas are essential and dependent on each other. They all come together as one interlocking picture of our lives.
The Ten Key Pieces of the Retirement Puzzle
Baby boomers lean naturally towards the financial component of retirement. But this is only one piece of a puzzle consisting of ten, perfectly-interlocking large pieces that, when assembled, depict a clear picture of retirement. Each large piece contains several smaller fragments, or life aspects to consider, that yield a more focused image.
These ten pieces correspond to the following areas of attention:
- Financial – knowledge, investments, savings and retirement funds, debt, taxes, insurance, social security, extra income, budgeting, will/estate, health care, overall planning, etc.
- Family relationships – children, grandchildren, spouse/partner/life companion, independence, setting boundaries, support, communication, caring for your parents, pets, etc.
- Health – weight and nutrition, vitality, exercise, muscular flexibility, self-care, support system, positive thinking, brain health and agility, life expectancy and aging, long-term care, etc.
- Fun and Recreation – hobbies/sports, entertainment, humor and laughter, culture, creativity, travel, relaxation, etc.
- Occupation – career choice, fulfillment, leadership, achievement, personal performance, productivity, time management, problem solving, owning a business, community service and volunteering, etc.
- Spirituality – life purpose, belief system, intuition, community, practice/ritual, self-realization, ego transcendence, open-mindedness, service to others.
- Social network – friendship, mutual support, communication, technology
- Home/Residence – proximity to children/grandchildren, health care facilities, climate, cost of living, cultural activities, entertainment options, personal safety, access to technology, year-round availability of favorite foods, etc.
- Personal growth – education, expansion, balance, self-acceptance, personal achievement, innovation, creativity, etc.
- Romance – intimacy, trust, sexuality, boundaries, etc.
What does your retirement puzzle look like?
You can add more to the above, or you can cross out those aspects that you consider less important. You might even decide that you don’t need all ten pieces of the puzzle in order to live a fulfilling retirement. Your particular puzzle can be very simple, or highly complex. It is up to you to create it and to get started assembling the individual fragments.
But the resultant picture has to be clear, balanced, and comprehensive. You don’t want to leave anything out just because you feel it is unimportant. And you don’t want to keep anything in only because others have it.
Why wait to assemble your retirement puzzle?
The key to help you in painting this picture of your retirement is to assess your CURRENT level of satisfaction, or of concern, in the life areas that you decide to keep as part of the puzzle. How else can you determine what is important for you after you retire, if you don’t make a full inventory of what gives you satisfaction NOW, and that you want to keep that way?
And what about those gaps or areas of concern? How important are they for you? What is keeping you from fulfilling them right now? It is possible that you are pushing them forward into your retirement years. If so, what do you need to do to follow through and satisfy your ‘to do’ list?
The Next Step
Once you have put together the pieces, then you are ready to begin working on your own definition of retirement. This is the next step, where you define your realistic and measurable goals or intentions.
These steps follow my Top Five Strategies to Kickstart your Retirement, which you can download for free from this website.
To your Peace and Success,