Myths, Facts and Reminders

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“Preparation for old age should begin not later than one’s teens. A life which is empty of purpose until 65 will not suddenly become filled on retirement.” ~ D. L. Moody

Retirement myths; they abound. As people plan for and approach life’s Third Act, many think they’ll be spending more time with family and friends. It’s true that you will likely have plenty of discretionary time. And though you may want to spend more time with family and friends, will they have the time to spend with you? Many of them many still be on a hectic treadmill. Consider whether your adult children and their family really want you to come over for dinner every Sunday night?

Perhaps you envision walking hand-in-hand along an exotic beach somewhere. While traveling to romantic destinations is on many people’s short list, be real. For most, those trips will likely be few and far between. Your focus will be better spent on what you’ll be doing on those days in between trips. Costs for those trips add up. Not surprisingly, an Allianz study found that 82 percent of respondents ages 44 to 49 with dependents, feared outliving their money more than death. That doesn’t sound like a crowd spending much time at all-inclusive resorts in Phuket, does it?

Fact: More and more people are working in retirement. Why? To stay mentally active. In a recent survey, money was reason #4 after “to stay physically active,” “social connections,” and “sense of identity/self-worth.” Presently, 80 percent of working retirees said they work because they “want to;” 20 percent said because they “have to.”

In work and research what I continue to find amazing and somewhat alarming, is that many boomers focus largely on the financial planning aspect of life’s Third Act and little else. Here’s where an apt adage applies: “Failure to plan is a plan for failure.” Maybe that’s a bit drastic but it seems fair to think that significant planning,Β well in advance, is probably going to better your odds of enjoyable retirement living.

Intentionally sidestepping financial planning (because it’s obvious), here are three things to keep in mind for life’s Third Act. You could probably come up with 30 more on the back of an envelope.

  1. Be mindful of how you think. Certain thinking styles can stress people out. Things like perfectionism, all-or-nothing thinking, and negative thinking. As you plan for or help others plan for retirement, be mindful of how you think. Consider lowering your expectations and instead, think in “anticipation” terms. Learn to accept and become comfortable with the fact that reality may not always match your ‘vision.’ Frame problems or potential challenges as opportunities. This is about mindset shifts.
  2. Know what makes you happy (and what makes your partner happy!). Life gets so busy while we are building our careers that we often end up in a rut. We may not have the time or energy to do the things we love. Prior to and once you transition into retirement, choose activities that will make time fly for you!
  3. Get good teeth. You do not want to look into a mirror and see a gnarly smile, even if minor. Dental care can be very expensive, so it’s prudent to get your teeth fixed while you’re still under a dental health plan. The longer you wait, the worse the fate. Dentures are a last-ditch effort and many who have them, hate how they feel and are not happy about limiting their food options. On a related note, healthy gums versus periodontal disease can also help with cardiovascular health.

52 thoughts on “Myths, Facts and Reminders

  1. Good post Eric. I have learned that life keeps evolving and changing and it is important to be able to let go of some ‘truths’ that I hold dear. This week I learned that it OK that I sometimes get things wrong and it would be foolish of me to expect to always be right (do right etc.)

  2. Although this might have been a very -minor- piece of this post, I’d have to say: Yes, I really WOULD love to have (full) family meals on Sunday. Especially coming from a (partially) Italian ancestry – and having married back into a native Italian family.

    If that’s any consolation. =)
    xLoJu

    • Consolation acknowledged and appreciated. πŸ™‚ The example presented is a dynamic that is easily unique to each family. Enjoy the blessings you have with you Italian heritage and family! And thanks for sharing your experience.

  3. Thank you for sharing the facts with us Eric!
    I love this practical wisdom …. and point number 3 is a new one for me … but SO important to consider.
    Val x

  4. “Get good teeth.” I would say: get as many good teeth as possible. πŸ˜‰ Eric, I think that majority of people don’t have dental plan before and after retirement.

    • My limited research suggests that while some may not have dental coverage, fewer retain it post-retirement. Or if they do, at tremendous cost. Thanks for adding to the conversation, JF.

  5. This post is dripping with realism – nobody has time for the retired, no doubt they are busy with their own life pursuits and fun activities, affording exotic holidays and enjoying them when life itself becomes a big vacation? Quite a far fetched idea! And your dental advice is so hilarious!!

    • To your comment, Balroop, we all have the ability to create time for the chronologically gifted. Some choose to, many align with other priorities. Your insights are always grounded and appreciated. Thank you.

  6. I fully agree with you that many people seem to be focused solely on financial planning and that’s a bit scary. I’ve counseled great people who have suffered from “lost identity” after retirement. They have money but they are miserable. Their days are no longer packed with back-to-back meetings and they no longer wake up to 300 emails waiting for them…Not to be “needed” has affected their self-worth. It is wise to grow other identities on the side while still on the “treadmill”. Great post!

    • Acknowledging your comment, Tiny, post-retirement depression is significant. We simply don’t hear much about it or choose to pass over the reality when it’s brought to our attention. Part of retirement planning is (again, to your good points) to become aware of and anticipate how things will change. I like and strongly concur with “…wise to grow other identities on the side while on the “treadmill.” What’s to lose?

      Thanks for adding richness to this thread.

  7. I like that part where you mention turning your problem as opportunity. I never thought of life after retirement. Even after reading this, I don’t even know if I should worry. Well thank you, Eric. By the time I get close, I hope to plan to be stay physically active. Money is never my thing. I can find peace and happiness in every little have. I hope it won’t be a problem during my retirement life. πŸ™‚

    • The consideration you may choose to take away, Rommel, is not whether or not you ought to worry — it’s to keep in mind the importance of planning (in this case for retirement) before needs arise. One’s health is huge so your focus on staying physically active is commendable! And yes, there is always opportunity is any given situation. πŸ™‚

  8. Sadly I didn’t have this wonderful post before I turned 50 and had to retire. I discovered then that I was unprepared for the emotional turmoil that goes with retirement, and lack of planning. Being a person who’s lived hand to mouth most of their life, planning doesn’t come naturally. I love the last bit of advice about having good teeth. Very very true, and something to think about in your 20s, because bad teeth are extremely expensive!

    • Yet we all have the present moment in which to acknowledge who and where we are – now! And then choose to move forward consciously. Even if we didn’t considerably focus on earlier planning, we can still make the best possible choices for ourselves – now. πŸ™‚ Glad you enjoyed the third suggestion. It often helps to conclude a post with something upbeat or off key.

  9. We walk hand-in-hand on an exotic beach 2-3 times a week. Today, we rode the waves with our nieces . . . whee!

    Moving to where you want to live is my #1 tip for retirement. Then you never have to take expensive vacations . . . because you don’t need to “get away.”

    And taking care of your teeth is KEY! Great tip.

    • Fortunate and blessed you are, Nancy. Readers who follow your blog know how well your life is aligned with the now and being focused on what really matters. An excellent #1 retirement tip. Thanks! πŸ™‚

  10. Spending time with your kids… so true. I’ve seen Andrew twice since May. 😦 Also, I am telling all of my soon to be retired friends get all of your medical done as our dental is not covered, and social medicine could mean long waits. As for a job…. I might have to go back to Habitat.

  11. You are a shining example of living fully in retirement, Shelley. Or partial retirement. πŸ™‚ The more we can and choose to share personal experiences with those coming along similar retirement paths, the better equipped they’ll be to plan and make choices. And you have stunningly beautiful teeth so little so worry about as time passes by.

  12. Hi Mary. Unsure if you read Nancy’s comment (above) or the two of you are on the same page. I’ll echo both of you… where one chooses to live during life’s Third Act is quite important. It could easily make or break those years. Thanks for adding to the thread!

  13. This post Eric brought a huge smile to my face.. ( and yes they are still my own teeth at 60. ) LOL.. Having made that decision to retire I am under no illusion.. LOL.. And I expect to be even busier than before.. Wonderful advice all taken on board πŸ˜‰

    • So glad the message was/is worth “taking on board.” And yes, the teeth/smile mention caught several readers off guard… pleasingly, I think. Onward, happily, with all of your chosen busyness!

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