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Planning is the key to a great retirement

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I don’t know about you, but I am getting tired of reading about people who are “never going to retire.” Newspapers, magazines, television programs and online publications are continuously writing about people who stay at their jobs well after typical retirement age. They invariably say how much they love their work and wouldn’t know what to do with out it.

Aye, there’s the rub. They don’t know what to do besides work. How sad for them.

Those heroes everyone is writing about are usually working for themselves or are in a position where they can determine their own hours, either because they are professionals or have a skill that is not dependent on physical stamina. Do you ever read about a salesperson who spends 8 to 10 hours on his or her feet saying they never want to retire? Or what about a factory worker, a bus driver, a civil servant? People in these professions usually have no choice as to when to retire…they work for a boss or a company with regulations that set their hours and responsibilities and when the rules say “retire,” that is it. They may also be physically exhausted and looking forward to not punching a clock, sleeping a bit later in the morning, spending their time the way they want to. Which is what retirement is all about.

Then along comes another pundit who says that retirement leads to early death. Usually they tell you to look back at your grandfather and consider how long he lived after retirement, but that is hardly the case today. Some of the stories make no sense…one told of a man who retired at 65 and then was stricken with cancer at 67 and died. Where is the correlation between his disease and retirement? Our attitudes, physical exercise, diet and life styles have changed significantly over the past 50 years and statistics that seem to illustrate that retirement equals early death are no longer relevant. Sure, neglecting your health, sitting in front of a TV for hours and failing to stimulate the brain with new ideas, skills or interests or social connections can lead to degeneration, but how many of these couch potatoes also skip medical appointments, develop bad eating habits and neglect exercise?

Let’s look at longevity from a different perspective. Most people know when they are going to retire but they don’t know how they are going to live in retirement. In other words, they have not planned for this critical change in their lives. The secret to a happy retirement is having control of your time, spending time with friends and family you want to be with and having a passion or a purpose you want to pursue. The passion can be as simple as seeking cultural and social activities or as complex as moving to a new city, trying a new sport or giving back by volunteering or mentoring.

You must retire TO something; keep being productive and stay socially connected. Retirement may require a bit of work on your part, but this is work you choose.

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