“So You Think You are Ready to Retire?”

ready to retireThoughts of retirement are typically about the financial aspects of retirement. Typically, the other things to think about are forgotten or little understood. Even while aging in retirement, people are unsure about what they’re experiencing and how to relate to those experiences.

Now, there’s a great book that talks about everything, with very little about money, in retirement: “So You Think You Are Ready to Retire?” by Barry LaValley and Mike Finke.

I’ve heard Barry speak a number of times and his background and insights are excellent to expand upon the concept of what retirement really is, and means, to each of us individually.

He thinks of retirement planning as “life awareness” “…that gets you back in touch with who you really are.” He states, “Too often, they (people thinking about retirement) are really clear about what the are retiring from but not entirely clear about what they are retiring to.” Barry describes retirement as a transition, not a destination where retirement is simply a continuation of your present life – so discard the romantic views of retirement and begin to open your mind to what retirement is and what it is not.

The books’ chapters walk you through preparing mentally, and physically (there are phases and stages to aging), to retirement. Barry quotes the singer Sheryl Crow, Soak Up the Sun: “It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got.”

“PERMA is an acronym that describes five conditions that Dr. Seligman (University of Pennsylvania) says will lead to ‘authentic happiness’ at any age.” P – Positive Emotion; E – Engagement; R – Relationships; M – Meaning; A – Achievement. “Happiness is an action, not a result.”

There are changes that occur in your second life (retirement) in the areas of health, relationships, work, leisure, home and financial. How you respond to the changes will impact health and happiness. The book walks you through responses through Chapters formatted into sections: Some Things to Consider, a discussion, simple Exercises using the information, What Will You Do with This Information?, and Did You Know?

There are different Phases of Retirement. “Each person will have a different experience, but here are some rough guidelines.” Fantasy, Excitement, Retirement is Here, Stress, Honeymoon, Routine, Disenchantment, Reorientation, and Contentment. He quotes William Bridges, an author, “Unless transition occurs, change will not.”

He points out that not all stress is equal. “The state of negative stress that causes physical and emotional pain is known as distress. While we can never really get rid of distress, we can have control over how we respond to it. In fact, researchers have coined the term Eustress to describe positive stress or how some people create a reaction to negative stress that is both psychologically and physiologically positive.”

Aging is a natural process. There is a whole chapter on aging and handling the aging process. Many chapters resonated with me and you’ll probably find your own chapters, and topics within, that are helpful to you too. Only a few chapters discussed money, and not in a number crunching way.

The bulk of the book is invaluable to get you to think about all the other things in retirement that have not, until now, been brought into our consciousness about retirement very well. Happy reading!

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