I have to admit that I didn’t pay close attention to retirement until maybe five years ago.
I had begun working for my current employer and they had just offered me a private retirement fund. Before that, I was only focused on saving as much as I could. I didn’t have a clear plan or strategy for retirement.
The only earlier ‘hint’ I received about retirement, came in the mail shortly after I had hit the half-century milestone. The U.S. advocacy organization AARP wanted me to join them. Why in the world would they offer me a subscription if I was only 50?
I was sure that I had plenty of time to plan for my retirement. Wait! Not so fast…
Stirring into Action
Then came the possibility, or rather the threat, that I could be laid off before I reached the full retirement age of 65.
The industry I had served all my life began to crumble under the collapse of oil prices. I was utterly unprepared for this. My foundation shook and I had to stir into action.
Being a ‘Plan B’ person, I didn’t like being caught off-guard. So I began to brainstorm alternatives.
I knew that it was going to be very difficult, if not impossible, to get a new job in this industry because of my age. The final push was given by my bicycle, or rather, by falling off from it during a routine training ride. I broke my clavicle in three pieces, as well as two ribs. I ended up in surgery and was given a few days away from the office to recover fully. This was a blessing in disguise.
I used this time to extend my periods of meditation, to listen carefully to my intuition, and to think about all my options. I read and researched. It was during this most vulnerable but powerful episode, that I decided not to delay my plans for retirement any further.
Some of my readers may have noticed that throughout all this time, my energy stayed ANABOLIC, positive, and constructive. I did not allow myself to fall into despair or anger – the typical catabolic responses to stress. (I invite my new readers to visit some of my previous blog posts on anabolic and catabolic energy).
Realizing the Non-Negotiable Pieces
I understood the importance of staying healthy and fit, both physically and mentally. So I got back on my bicycle as soon as I had recovered from surgery and had completed physical therapy. This, I realized, was an absolute non-negotiable: monitor my health, keep moving, and stay fit.
I also paid close attention to my purpose, my passions in life, the things that have always stirred inspiration and joy in me. And out of this introspection came several ideas about what I could do in the event of losing my job prematurely.
These ideas turned into a vision for the future after leaving behind my lifelong career. This vision had to be aligned with my values, and with the spiritual routine I had strived to maintain for decades. I knew I wanted to serve people, to connect at a deeper level. I also wanted freedom to pursue whatever passion called me. But at the same time, I needed to generate income. This is how I was drawn to the coaching industry.
I had found a hidden passion, another purpose. Another non-negotiable…
Then, of course, I had to resolve the financial part.
I knew that I was not in bad shape, because I had been saving and contributing to a number of different retirement funds. But I had no idea of where my wife and I stood financially for the long term. Unfortunately, we didn’t take immediate action as we didn’t know of any good financial or retirement advisor. Only recently we took firm steps on this, and we are now on the right track.
In retrospective, we could be better off now had we acted earlier. Along with financial planning is having the certainty of good health care coverage. This also means having a full-time job, or sufficient income to pay for a good plan in the open market in case employment is not possible.
Finances and health insurance are, of course, a non-negotiable.
During all this time, I kept sharing my thoughts and ideas with my wife. I understood that I am not on this journey alone. We reviewed other options as well, for example that of buying into a franchise that would provide us both with stable income. But we quickly discarded this idea because it required for her to give up a lot of the time she was dedicating to her clients, and I couldn’t do this alone. So the decision I ultimately made to go into coaching was satisfactory for both of us.
Family relationships, even if you think you are retiring alone, are then another non-negotiable.
How Solid is your Foundation?
These four pieces may be metaphorically compared to a table that is solidly supported by four legs. Try ignoring or removing one of these ‘legs’, and the table will be unstable.
It is your turn to think carefully about these four non-negotiable pieces, and to assess your level of satisfaction with them.
But before you do this, can you rank them in order of importance? You may find that this is difficult to do because they are all mutually dependent.
In my own case, I discovered that the financial aspects of retirement are not at the top of the list…
So take some time to measure your level of preparedness, or of satisfaction, with these four pillars of retirement. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being completely dissatisfied and 10 being fully satisfied, confident, and prepared, how would you rate yourself in:
- Your physical and mental health and fitness
- The vision you have for retirement, including your passions
- Your finances and health care considerations
- The degree of communication you have with your life companion and with your family.
If you rated yourself less than seven on any of these non-negotiable foundations, you may want to find out why, and then take some steps to resolve it.
I rate myself very high in all four categories, but not with a perfect 10 in each. And even though I have not retired yet, I continue to prepare for my second act as if I were to do so tomorrow.
I would love to hear from you. Please leave any comments below, or on my Facebook page.
In Peace and Prosperity,