You’ve worked and planned for it for years, and it’s right around the corner: retirement. You’ve budgeted, kept a close eye on your IRA, 401(k), or other retirement accounts, you’ve estimated your income from Social Security and pensions, and you’re ready to ease into a time in life when you can spend more time doing what you want to do, instead of doing what you have to do.
But what do you want to do? For many new retirees, losing the structure and sense of purpose provided by the workplace can lead to anxiety, depression, and a general feeling of “lostness.” During our working years, we may think of retirement as a time when we can finally spend all the time we want, indulging our favorite hobbies. But what many retirees discover is that while hobbies like golf, fishing, thrifting, or travel can certainly provide enjoyment for a period, they can also fade after a time and may not be able to support the sense of purpose we crave as humans.
This phenomenon can especially affect men of the Boomer generation or older, who have often been societally programmed to derive much of their personal significance from their careers or their roles as the primary breadwinner for their families. In fact, a 2021 study at the University of Wisconsin found that as men approach and enter retirement, their priorities tend to shift from their work and the relationships formed with colleagues to more personal relationships with family and close friends. For some men, this transition can be difficult.
Your Retirement Mission Statement
One of the best ways to prepare for the emotional changes that come with retirement is to spend some time thinking about your “retirement mission statement.” Just as companies and other organizations develop mission statements to help them remain focused on the most important priorities, you can use your retirement mission statement to help you envision what really matters during your “next act.” This can restore or reinforce your sense of purpose and help avoid the feeling of “drift” that prevents enjoyment and satisfaction.
Your fundamental principles.
One way to start getting a grip on your retirement mission statement is to spend some time thinking about proverbs or sayings that often go through your mind. If you frequently spend time thinking about these ideas, it may indicate that they form a theme that is important to how you live your life. Reflect on the ways you’ve drawn wisdom or made decisions based on these principles. Or recall some of the people who have been most influential in your life. You can probably discern relationships between these people and ideas, and those are likely indicative of the ideals you have used for guidance through the years. In retirement, you’ll want to order your life in a way that honors and draws from these same principles and values.
Your “bumper sticker.”
If you had to boil what matters most to you down to just a few words, what would they be? Maybe it would be something like, “Family, Friends, Faith.” Or “Give More, Complain Less.” Or “You’re Never Too Old to Learn Something New.” Whatever it is, a short, pithy phrase that captures your most important priorities can also serve as a handy guide to what really matters to you in life—and retirement. It could even be the basis for your retirement mission statement.
Put it into practice.
Once you’ve developed your retirement mission statement, you should apply it to every major decision you make, including your financial plan. After all, the whole reason you’ve planned, saved, budgeted, and prioritized is so you can live the kind of retirement lifestyle that will offer you security, enjoyment, and—most of all—significance.
Mathis Wealth Management believes that the best financial plans begin with you—your most cherished goals, priorities, and purposes. To learn more, read our article, “Your Financial Life Cycle: Tips for Your 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s.”