Withdrawing from the World of Work 2/13

February 2013

I would have never expected this, but at my tender age, I am surrounded by at least a dozen friends and family members who have retired, or are retiring, in the very near future. Maybe you’ve seen them. They are easily spotted, walking around with silly little grins on their faces.

And so they should grin. They are all under the age of 65 and have much to look forward to.

I’m pretty sure I’m much too young to be hearing about retirement every day. But of course it’s tax time, yet another reason to hear about it. Financial institutions are competing for our last-minute investment money.

But there’s more to retirement than financial planning and cruise ships. With increasing life expectancies we could potentially live to be 90 years of age or older. And with the reality of decreasing medical coverage we could be paying some hefty medical expenses should we require them.

Have you thought about the potential of living 90 years and the quality of life you’d like to have in your advanced age? Do you expect to be healthy? Are you healthy now?

Now those are sobering questions. If the financial aspect of retirement doesn’t rattle you, maybe thinking about your health does. And what is health? It’s broader than you think. I like to think of health as six spokes of a wheel, ideally in balance, each with many aspects, or spokes, of its own. (email to receive Six Aspects of Health exercise.)

Six Aspects of Health
1. Physical
2. Emotional
3. Spiritual
4. Financial
5. Occupational/Intellectual (which includes retirement)
6. Relational

A deficit in one aspect of health can throw everything else off balance. For example, a nasty relationship can seriously impact your emotional health. An unhealthy condition could undermine your occupational health (what you will actually do in your retirement). Lack of finances can play a role in your physical health. All aspects of health influence all others, really.

Perhaps our population is overly optimistic when we think about how our retirement years will look, given the current health of our nation. But there is good news. As I always say, as long as you still have a pulse there’s still time to change.

I’m certainly not going to wade into financial health here, tax time or not, but let’s talk about physical health, because without your body you can’t be reading this OR playing golf. Physical health can be a doorway to all other aspects. Like finances, it, too, is an investment in your future.

What aspect of your physical health could use improvement? What first step could you take to change . . . something?  What attitude do you need to maintain as you prepare for a long, healthy life? Who can you call on for support? If you’re stuck on where to start, just start. It doesn’t matter what comes first. Think small steps. Start where you feel you can be successful, because ‘like attracts like’ – ‘success begets success.’

What will you DO in retirement? I used to think that when I would retire at the age of 65 I would attend university to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, because I wanted to earn a degree and study art, but also because I heard university is free to people over the age of 65. It was a fun idea.

Coincidentally, artists were starting to surround and inspire me. I realized that waiting more than a decade to learn to paint would be very foolish, as I really wanted to paint. So that’s what I’m doing now. I am learning to paint.

If I wait until retirement I might have to live 90 years to get good at painting! And it might take even longer to get good at golf!!

What are you waiting for? What do you need to do to be vital and alive today in order to prepare for an ideal retirement tomorrow?

If you’re already retired, congratulations! Now wipe that grin off your face.