“Life-long learning” can help us feel fulfilled in our later years.
If you’re obsessing over your stress about retirement, then it’s time to stop, sit down, and do something about it. The best retirement plans start early.
Why today? Because retirement coaches and planners say procrastination is one of the biggest obstacles people face in their 50s and beyond. So no more excuses – the time to act is now!
Not only is procrastination a concern, but the last thing people want to do as they get older is become complacent or sluggish. We tend not to do healthy things for ourselves when we’re bored, says Joanne Waldman, director of training for Retirement Options and owner of New Perspective Coaching based in St. Louis.
Gerriann Fagan, founder of the Alabama-based The Prism Group, agrees. “Get ready for the future – it can creep up on you. People think about aging, ‘Oh my gosh I’m 50, or I’m 60, or I’m 70, and I’m so old.’ We’re aging every day. We started aging in our thirties. Think about the future. It’s not like you wake up and are suddenly at 60.”
That’s why Fagan says people should start doing those things they want to do immediately rather than put them off any longer. In other words, if you’ve always wanted to travel, you should book a trip right now.
Waldman says a lot of people lose optimism as they age, especially when it comes to their career. She says she sees so many clients who have never done what they wanted to do in their life, and it’s a shame.
“When they started out, their parents said you can’t do this, or somebody said you can’t do this, or their belief system was so strong that they felt ‘I am not good enough to do this.’ They have avoided doing what they really wanted to do, and when they come see me, they say, ‘This is my last chance.’ I want people to figure out who they are and what they love and what their gifts are. I want people to focus on what they were designed to so they can feel fulfilled.”
Last chance or not, retirement can be a wonderful opportunity for doing what you always put off. One way to do that is to learn something new, and Waldman points out the “many neat programs for retirees” that are out there. Some universities even offer reduced tuition for boomers and retirees, she says.
“I believe we have to get involved in life-long learning,” Waldman says.
Optimism doesn’t just affect our career pursuits – it also relates to personal issues. Avoid keeping grudges, and be a more forgiving person. If not, it can eat you up the rest of your life, Waldman says. Make a pledge now to change that attitude. “I know too many people who keep those feelings around for so long, and it’s corrosive,” Waldman says.
Fagan says negativity must be replaced with fulfillment – and not just the money-making kind. Work, even if it’s unpaid in retirement, can be fulfilling.
“What’s going to get you up in the morning?” Fagan asks. “People with a lot of money, and people with little money – both can be happy in retirement.”