For a growing number of baby boomers, retirement is just around the corner. Some 75 million people will turn 65 over the next 20 years. What that retirement will look like is not necessarily clear, but it's likely to have little in common with the retirement their parents experienced.
Preparation is critical on the financial front, but equally important is deciding what to do with your time. Even if you have sufficient savings to finance a comfortable retirement, living life to the fullest for 20 or 30 years requires effort. Before you make the move, here are three important considerations:
1. Define your retirement. Instead of a life of leisure, many baby boomers are interested in a rewarding second act. And knowledge workers who utilized their mind more than their backs may have the good health to enjoy decades of retirement. Far from being tired and worn out when they reach retirement age, these seniors will still have a lot to offer along with the energy to do so. These retirees will remain important contributors to society.
It is important to decide how you want your retired life to look. This is your chance to define the next stage of your life:
Do you want to continue working in some regard? Some people's financial situation will require continued employment. Other people will delay retirement to stay engaged with co-workers, keep busy, and ward off boredom.
Do you prefer to stay within the same career or try something new? Retirement can be your opportunity to investigate a second career path. Perhaps you can try something you have always wanted to do but were unable to because of requirements earlier in life.
Will you be happy with no specific plans to follow? Retirees have the freedom to get up when they want to and to do what they want to when they want to do it. Some people relish this freedom from schedules, while for others this may prove disastrous.
Do you like the idea of cycling through periods of work and leisure? Some retirees choose to retire for a while and then re-enter the workforce at a later date. Perhaps you could work for a year or two and then take a temporary retirement allowing you to travel or do whatever you wish. Then, after you are recharged, you can head back to your next gig.
2. Plan what you will do in retirement to stay engaged and be fulfilled. Many of us wouldn't dream of heading out the door for even a one week vacation without carefully planning what we want to do and accomplish while visiting our destination. And yet people continue to enter retired life without preparing for what will potentially be the next 20 or 30 years of their life. Don't let retired life take you unaware. Take time before you retire to understand what you can do to give meaning to your days and insulate yourself from boredom. Realize that retirement is a "vacation" that will last a very long time.
3. Discover what you are passionate about and incorporate it into your daily retired life. If you begin your day doing something that inspires you, you are off to a good start. And yet many people find it challenging to discover their personal passion. While writing my book I talked with many people who had never figured out what they would do if money were no object. A busy work and family life can make demands on you that stand in the way of pursuing your interests. But once you retire and are more in control of each day, how you decide to fill your time is up to you.
Dave Bernard is the author of Are You Just Existing and Calling it a Life?, which offers guidelines to discover your personal passion and live a life of purpose. Not yet retired, Dave has begun his due diligence to plan for a fulfilling retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only the Beginning.
More From US News & World Report