As an adviser, you know that your clients need more than sufficient assets to ensure a successful retirement. Other major factors affect happiness in retirement, such as health, relationships, and personal development. As you help clients plan for their golden years, best practice says you should work to incorporate these factors into a holistic plan. But what about your retirement? It's a good approach for you, too.
In today's environment, retirees should expect to sharpen their social skills and be more flexible. Consider the professional couple, both of whom have spent decades at their respective work sites. Retirement can mean reorienting to 24/7 togetherness, sometimes in a downsized home. How will that affect the relationship? For members of the "sandwich generation," they may have to adjust to having adult children and/or elders dependent on them. Also keep in mind that work-related professional networks tend to dry up about 18 months after leaving the workplace. Retirees need to nurture or replace social connections with friends and colleagues, as well as with neighbors who move away or experience declining health.
Many boomers formed their social circles when their kids were young and become increasingly isolated as the kids age or move away. Making new friends and simultaneously fostering old relationships are skills that should improve in retirement, not languish. Remember, humans are hardwired to need relationships with others—regardless of age or retirement status.
Optimizing health and well-being
We all know it's important to practice good health habits throughout our entire lives. The basics are nothing new: eat nutritiously, maintain an ideal weight, don't smoke or abuse substances, exercise, minimize stress, and get enough sleep. The good news—and the bad—is that people often maintain the same habits before and after retirement. So be sure to start establishing a good health routine as early as possible, set realistic expectations, and focus on establishing one habit at a time.
Don't forget that mental health and physical health go hand in hand. Mental health issues are common among older adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control. And elderly white males appear to be more likely than other populations to commit suicide. Try to keep a positive attitude toward retirement and seek help if you need it.
The Army's motto "Be all that you can be" shouldn't stop at retirement. Throughout our careers, we push ourselves to grow and develop, and that shouldn't change once we retire. What can you do to make the last act the best one? Whether it's hobbies, sports, learning new things, volunteering, or traveling, have some clarity about how you will occupy your time in a personally rewarding way. Consider your unique gifts and the skills you have always enjoyed putting to use. This is a key to growth and development at any age.
Of course, no retirement plan would be complete without the financial component. Data shows that financial security more greatly affects clients' peace of mind than any other factor. It may be time to get a second opinion on your own financial plan if you haven't done so already.
Retirement used to mean ending one's professional or work career. Increasingly, however, more and more people across all industries are choosing to continue working well after age 65. Ironically, some advisers have not planned for their own futures, and they stay in the business simply because it is too scary to leave it. Embrace the challenges and opportunities of retirement and formulate a plan. Your clients will be more successful when they go into retirement with their eyes wide open—and so will you.
As honing our social skills, improving our health habits, and focusing on personal development are becoming larger components of "retirement," perhaps the word itself as we know it needs to be retired!
Joni Youngwirth is managing principal of practice management at Commonwealth Financial Network.