Written by Lee Stoerzinger, CFP®
One of the interesting benefits in our business is that we often have the opportunity to meet and work with corporate executives as they make the transition from a very busy life to one of retirement. These individuals are often used to a life of many meetings per day, crazy double-booked schedules, travel, making large decisions, and the reliance of many others on them. Over decades they almost “become” their work and derive much of their identity from it. Then, overnight, they turn into a so called F.I.P., or “formerly important person.” They go from 100 miles an hour to zero. Their schedule is clear, no one needs anything from them, and they don’t have to be anywhere at any certain time. On top of that, their paychecks have stopped and they now must transition both financially and emotionally to living on what they have accumulated for themselves. No more practice rounds.
Over the years, we have found that the perceived F.I.P.s we work with adjust to their new retirement life in different ways. Some keep rolling along, transferring their skills and pace of life into new projects and relationships. They may do some volunteering, spend more time on a passion or hobby, all while babysitting grandchildren, fixing up the house and meeting friends for breakfast twice a week. Others look forward to slowing down, getting to those things they always hoped to, and forming a second life so to speak. While some find the transition extremely challenging, struggling to fill their time and wondering what their “life purpose” will be. The one thing we found in common for all, however, is that no matter how the process goes, it becomes about finding meaning in their own way.
From our experience, we have found some things that can help make for a positive progression… Plan, Practice and Ponder.
Plan: Obviously, the more prepared you are to transition into retirement, the more familiar it will become. Getting finances in order is important. However, you may find that it comes down to more than money. Preparing your emotional, intellectual and even spiritual sides are all beneficial. Spend some time thinking about what you are most looking forward to. What will you miss most about your job? What are the top goals you would like to accomplish?
Practice: Yes, you can practice being retired. Before you make the big move, there are many things you can be thinking about and doing to maximize your experience. What does an ideal week in retirement look like? How will you spend your time? How will your money management and budgeting change? What are your biggest fears about retirement? Start that volunteer engagement and maybe do some of that traveling you wanted. Put that toe in the water. The water is sure to be warm.
Ponder: Retirement tends to be a time of significant reflection and evaluation. This can be normal and healthy. Spend those efforts not only engaging in your new life, but also thinking about what you want your legacy to be. What mark do you want to place on this world now and into the future? What do you deserve, and what do you now want to show the world? This can be an extremely positive experience.
While we spend so much of our lives working, it’s easy to understand why some can perceive themselves as “formerly important” when they transition to the new world of retirement. Our company, however, seeks to do all we can to help people never get into this territory. We prefer to engage by using our tools to make it not so much a “big change” but instead an advancement into a different phase with new opportunities. It’s your life and you only get one. Let’s make the whole thing count.