During their first sixty some years of life, most Americans lead extremely busy lives. The careers, families and organizations they are involved in make their lives seem extremely busy. Being accomplished consumers of products and services, most have worked long hours in order to fulfill the needs and wants for themselves and their loved ones. They were probably accustomed to rigid schedules and lots of responsibilities. In many cases they may have been in leadership positions with the lives of many associates who depended on them daily. Intellectually they were stimulated with challenges to solve and always felt as though they were vitally important individuals. While they might complain about the rat race they were engaged in, the fact that they were needed daily, made them feel fulfilled and satisfied. While they yearned for the day they might retire in order to kick back and relax, somehow many seemed scared for that day to arrive, because they didn't know what they would do with their free time.
At last the mystical "age of retirement," came and a few years have quickly passed by since they stopped working. They probably have lost touch with all their former associates and might begin to feel their life has lost the relevance they once experienced. Their kids are gown up and have families of their own, as they now engage in the rat race every day. I speak about all of this from first hand interactions with once influential business executives or successful business owners I meet each week, that retired and seem somewhat lost with their new free time. I'm primarily referring to retired men here, since they are my usual contacts during my present life.
Many of the conversations I engage in all seem to steer toward the past. What these men did during their careers; who they met; where they traveled; the influence they had over others; and the accomplishments they achieved. Then the conversations drift to their grown children and their kid's careers and accomplishments. I rarely engage in conversations about their present retired lives and all the new opportunities they should be enjoying.
I find some conversations quite sad, since generally speaking, very few retired people I meet have planned for this greatest period of their life. Some have part-time work activities and other responsibilities. However I watch too many retirees who are bored with no real goals for today or tomorrow. Time just seems to drift by them.
As in so many of my lessons, I always seem to come back to the fundamental skill of planning. Why is it that a former successful executive was a great planner for his company when he ran it, yet has no plan for his current life during retirement? Has he forgotten how to set some new and exciting goals that inspire him to wake up early each day? Or has he just stopped caring and feel sorry for himself for his lack of passion and energy?
I do know some retired men who are very passionate about their golf game. They play almost every day with lots of other passionate golfers and I think this is great. They know what they love and they do as much of it as possible. They interact with others and have stimulating conversations. They're not stuck in their past, but are rather engaged in the present and fulfilling their dreams. They win competitions and feel proud of themselves.
However, these men are not the norm. My contention here is to stress the necessity to prepare yourself for all the extra time you will have on your hands during retirement. If you don't, retirement will be a lonely burden to deal with as opposed to a time you worked your whole life for, in order TO ENJOY! Taking an inventory of your interests and passions well before your retirement is the first step to take. You need to know what you love to do. If you are not sure, start testing the waters early so you are not trying to figure all this out at the last moment.
In my case two of my many passions are walking and swimming. I love the exercise and know it's good for my health. While walking, I make my dog happy and listen to 5 books on CD per month. Another passion I've always been engaged in is to help others. I invest many hours at eHappyLife.com, fulfilling that passion for thousands of visitors each month, inspiring them 24/7 to achieve higher levels of personal development and enjoy life more. I also love to play chef and cook wonderful meals, or enjoy some great cuisine at nice restaurants. I read the newspaper daily along with 30 magazine subscriptions monthly. I enjoy creating other websites; attending live seminars and webinars; and running a consulting business. I also help improve the lives of my family. In fact my retirement has been more fulfilling than my career. I'm up at the crack of dawn and engaged passionately day and night, with the option to take a nap at will. This is exactly how I planned retirement and now I'm working my plan. Everyone needs to feel relevant. Retirement is no exception. It's never too early to begin planning for a great retirement. Make your plan the best ever. Then execute it passionately!