Your wealth and ability to manage your finances play a significant role in your confidence as you transition through different stages of life, and in particular when planning for retirement. As retirement planning approaches, the focus tends to be on financial readiness as you prepare to relinquish the consistency of a paycheck. However, it is only one facet of this complex transition. While assisting and coaching many clients through this phase, we have found some of the challenges can go far beyond the financial aspect. Retirement income planning is crucial, and equally significant is how you’ll spend your free time and drive your sense of purpose, fulfillment, and contentment. These considerations can provide the key to a successful and satisfactory retirement transition.
What Does Retirement Mean to You?
As you think of your aspirations for retirement, it’s important to note this stage can last 30 years or more (or one-third of your life), and many claim them to be the best years. Envisioning your ideal retirement involves informed financial strategies and designing a fulfilling lifestyle. Hobbies, community involvement, and personal growth are all part of this equation as you plan pursuits you’ve longed to explore, nurture relationships, and perhaps identify new adventures.
You’re poised to make the most of your retirement years with thoughtful planning. A comprehensive retirement planning approach can help you be more financially secure while enjoying a rich and rewarding retirement experience.
The Non-Financial Factors of Comprehensive Retirement Planning
Over our many decades of experience in financially preparing clients for retirement, we have found a non-financial aspect of retirement planning that’s equally as important but often overlooked. Specifically, how will retirees fulfill the basic needs their jobs satisfied during their working years?
Beyond the core human needs of food, shelter, and safety, we have found most retirees are looking for three basic requirements to be fulfilled in retirement:
- Structure—This involves a sense of order and establishing a routine or framework for daily activities.
- Purpose—Retirees often seek meaning through activities that provide a sense of accomplishment, personal growth, or positive contributions to the community.
- Community—Maintaining connections and a sense of belonging by forming and nurturing relationships with peers and family is essential for well-being.
We’ve helped many clients retire in San Diego and around the world and have seen a full spectrum of post-career fulfillment. Typically, the most fulfilled clients have planned for their abundance of free time. They retire to a life they want to lead and aren’t just retiring to escape a job or due to external pressures but to design a life they genuinely desire.
Five Aspects of a Fulfilling Retirement Plan
Have you thought about how you might spend your time in retirement? If you have not and are on the retirement doorstep, this will be an excellent opportunity to add this task to your pre-retirement checklist.
Most retirees who transition successfully have found a way to accomplish five distinct components that support the three basic needs noted above:
- They fill their time with meaningful tasks—This provides structure and establishes a routine.
- They replace their work identity—They discover new roles or passions that provide them with purpose.
- They stay connected with friends and relatives—They nurture relationships to provide a sense of belonging and community.
- They keep mentally and physically active—They effectively address all three basic needs with stimulating activities that provide growth, health, and fulfillment.
- They feel financially secure—They have confidence in satisfying the three basic needs and the assurance they can support their desired lifestyle.
Returning to Work After Retirement
We commonly celebrate clients’ retirement only to find out some have re-entered the workforce a few months later. Returning to work should not be considered a failure but rather a discovery of how they will meet their three basic needs. Many who have returned to work in some capacity after retiring have achieved a renewed sense of enthusiasm toward their work because they now approach it with an “I want to” rather than an “I need to” attitude.
Every person is unique in their approach to this fulfillment, and there is no right or wrong answer. Some may find satisfaction in volunteer work, pursuing a passion, or even exploring a new career path. Retirement can be dynamic, and returning to work can be an empowering choice. Flexible and comprehensive retirement planning should address and support these diverse paths that may not fit into traditional retirement ideas. Here are more questions and factors clients can consider before returning to work following retirement.
How to Build Purpose and Fulfillment into Your Retirement Planning
Various considerations can greatly enhance your retirement experience. Here are key steps to help you navigate this transition confidently, ensuring your retirement is financially secure and rich in purpose, structure, and community engagement.
1. Establish a Comprehensive Financial Plan—Have a solid financial plan as your roadmap for anything finance-related. If you like the consistency of a paycheck weekly or monthly, your portfolio assets should be designed to provide that comfort for you in retirement. It will help if you also consider the following:
- Medical, long-term, and assisted living expenses
- Inflation and how your spending will change as you age
- Support you may provide to aging parents
- Retiring in a city like San Diego that has a higher cost of living
- Tax implications in retirement
- Emergency reserves
2. Address the Three Basic Needs—Outline and plan for how you will fill the three basic needs your work provided before you retire. How will you create structure in your day, a sense of purpose, and a sense of community? Identifying the activities that will bring you joy and contribute to your overall well-being is also helpful. Many retirees find it beneficial to write this down where it is visible and becomes a habit. You may consider:
- Relocating closer to family
- Volunteer opportunities
- Professional consulting
- Joining a senior living community
- Pursuing passions such as travel, entertainment, or fitness
3. Delegate Tasks—Engage with professionals to outsource all the things you don’t want to do in retirement so you can spend your time doing what you really love. For example:
- If you don’t enjoy managing your finances, a financial advisor can continually monitor your portfolio assets, financial plan, and the ever-changing rules that affect them.
- Tax preparers can make sure your taxes are filed accurately and timely.
- Other professionals may help with things like maintaining your home or yard if you don’t enjoy doing those things.
4. Conduct a Retirement “Trial Run”—We often suggest clients do a retirement trial run, taking time off work and pretending they are retired. If possible, we recommend taking at least two weeks to thoroughly get a sense of free time, making note of any observations during this time, and reflecting on the experience with the following questions:
- How did you feel?
- How did you spend your time?
- Did you feel more happy and content, less stressed, or anxious?
- Did you like the autonomy, or did you miss the structure of a workday?
- Consider what made you feel happy and fine-tune your retirement plan.
Retiring with confidence comes down to a simple question: What do you really want in life? We find the answer usually addresses the three basic needs of structure, purpose, and community, so retirees know what they can look forward to, not just what they are walking away from.
Planning a San Diego Retirement?
Having the good fortune of living in the mild climate of San Diego provides many opportunities to fulfill the three basic needs. Whether we enjoy the coastline, parks, or trails, we have the chance to be outside year-round to enhance our physical and mental well-being. Our amazing city also has many opportunities to volunteer or serve as mentors. Giving back can be deeply gratifying while satisfying structure, purpose, and community. It’s worth noting that many of these volunteer positions do more than support our community but also come with added financial benefits like free tickets, exclusive access, and other perks.
From access to nature, culture, and entertainment options, retiring in San Diego gives retirees many opportunities to thrive in the three essential areas of fulfillment. Still, you should evaluate the financial factors and additional pros and cons of a San Diego retirement. For example, certain regions may have higher housing, medical, and daily expenses. We share many considerations in this blog post, covering San Diego’s cost of living, healthcare access, transportation, and other factors.
Comprehensive Retirement Planning: How CCMI Can Help
Sailing into retirement doesn’t occur without thoughtful planning. Every client we have worked with has hopes and fears about retirement. Sometimes, a plan’s pre-retirement wisdom and creativity can be more valuable than the amount of money saved; a plan helps you think about how you will spend your time and seek fulfillment.
At CCMI, we walk clients through these retirement planning questions to build flexible, adaptable plans that align with their values and aspirations. A carefully curated approach will also help you clarify the emotions that often come with significant transitions like retirement, so you can move forward strategically, comfortably, and with greater ease. Retirement can also mark leaving a lifelong career, experiencing an empty nest for the first time, or assuming responsibilities for aging parents. From excitement to apprehension, a range of feelings crop up around retirement, and we’re here to equip you with tools, guidance, and support to look ahead confidently. We can also help with the following:
- Retirement Income Planning: Plan for tax-efficient retirement withdrawals, when and if to claim Social Security, and ensure sufficient cash flow for future needs and income replacement
- Investment Management: Align investments, 401(k) contributions, and income to support your retirement goals upon leaving your company
- Strategic Tax Planning: Explore tax-efficient income options to maintain your current lifestyle and create tax-saving vehicles to safeguard your hard-earned assets
- Generational Planning: Implement practical strategies to secure a comfortable future for your family and subsequent generations
- Estate and Succession Planning: Collaborate with your professional team to draft estate and succession plans that organize the stewardship of your assets and protect your family’s legacy
We understand retirement isn’t just a financial event but a significant life change. By addressing its financial and non-financial aspects, you’re better equipped to enter a retirement that brings a strong sense of contentment, purpose, and community. Our personalized, fee-only retirement planning advice helps ensure you’re appropriately prepared for every next step of your journey—before, during, and after your career transition—with a dedicated team by your side. Visit our comprehensive guide to retirement planning, and please give one of our advisors a call if we can help you plan to and through retirement.
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CCMI provides personalized fee-only financial planning and investment management services to business owners, professionals, individuals and families in San Diego and throughout the country. CCMI has a team of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professionals who act as fiduciaries, which means our clients’ interests always come first.
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