Am I Emotionally and Mentally Prepared to Retire
From the Florida Retirement System?
Let’s face it. Everyone thinks about the day that they will retire. Some dream about this day -
others dread it. For most, it’s likely a potent cocktail of emotions - relief, trepidation, celebration,
regret, hope and anxiety. However you see your retirement, there are things you can do right
now to prepare for freedom and success.
Many State of Florida employees preparing to retire have asked: How can I be ready - not only
fiscally - but also mentally, emotionally and strategically for retirement?
In this blog, I’m going to talk about seven general practices you can start implementing
immediately to prepare you for this next amazing chapter in your life.
By the way, if you’re also interested in learning how to avoid running out of money in retirement,
then be sure to watch my complimentary video.
Practice #1: Be clear on what you’re retiring to as well as what you’re retiring from.
So to get the party started, begin brainstorming retirement goals and ideas with your partner,
your dog, yourself.
Be creative and don’t try to censor anything as being unrealistic. Just get the ideas on paper and write,
write, write! Later on you can divide these goals into needs (usually retirement income and
healthcare), wants (travel, home remodeling, etc.) and wishes (inventing something really cool,
etc.). Most of us are visual beings so another way to access your creative side is to quickly and
randomly tear pictures that resonate with you out of magazines. Or create a board on Pinterest.
Why is brainstorming goals and ideas important to your retirement? Because you need to be
cognizant of your likes and your dislikes, what your gifts are and what they’re not. But never
fear, because in this playground called retirement you’ll have the opportunity to try things on and
if something is not quite right, you just try something else! But it’s a good idea to begin with a
roadmap in hand.
Studies have shown that the first two years after a person retires is when they tackle a lot of
goals. After certain goals are met, there is a tendency to reinvent oneself. This is good news!
It means you can pivot in any direction you like. Many people look for a “purpose” after
retirement. Actually a lot of people search their entire lives for their purpose. Sometimes when
we think of finding our purpose we envision a sudden bolt of lightning pointing directly to our
breakthrough. A lot of the time it’s a lot less dramatic and overt. So another term for being
purposeful is being useful. Because if we think of being useful - whether it’s helping with the
grandkids, teaching a gardening class or starting a new business - it’s easier to get to. You
might even want to write out a one or two sentence mission statement to help you stay on track.
Practice #2: Visualize your Calendar
Another way to get clear on what you’re retiring to is to visualize what your calendar will look
like. Print a monthly planner template off the internet or find a planner you’re not using and
create a fake month in your retirement. Fill it up with as many meaningful activities you can
think of, even if it’s only blocking out time for reading in your hammock or jacuzzi. Refer back to
your list of goals/ideas and visuals. Take a few deep breaths and really feel what it could be like
to have this life that you are creating. What if you can’t think of anything really satisfying? Well,
what did you like to do when you were a child? Retirement is a wonderful venue for acting out
your unmet dreams and indulging play. You can always warm up by helping someone else
enjoy meeting their dreams and playing outrageously.
And while you’re visualizing and fake scheduling your meaningful retirement, think about how
you’re going to replace your work routines with new routines. Trade in your hasty breakfast
routine - for a relaxing beginning to your day at your favorite coffee shop connecting with others.
Or practice yoga on your lunch hour instead of inhaling a sandwich at your desk.
While we’re talking about connections - don’t allow yours to be on autopilot.
So be sure to think about… Practice #3: Prioritize WHO you will spend time with. So,
who do you want to spend time with moving into this next phase of your life? People inspire you
or they drain you. It’s said that you can either scratch with chickens or fly with eagles. Jim
Rohn said you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. The people you
spend the most time with shape who you are because they determine what conversations
dominate your attention. Think about who those 5 people are - the qualities that they possess -
and ask yourself if you really want them playing in your sandbox. Life is short and we generally
can’t choose who we work with, but all that’s about to change. What if you could hand pick your
posse? You’re looking for quality individuals who are generally uplifting, like you, are reliable,
trustworthy, handle adversity well and, fun would be a great bonus. In other words, a trusted
support system, a team. For you and for them.
Practice #4: Stay healthy. Another practice to prepare for retirement is to take steps to get in
shape. Now. Not when you retire, but get started right now helping your heart and your
muscles by doing activities that you find enjoyable and sustainable. Why is this important?
Because you want to be strong and healthy enough to enjoy a long retirement. You want to be
physically strong and mentally sharp so you can make good decisions. For you and your loved
ones. And who wants to over spend on healthcare down the road if there’s something you can
do about it now? Remember, you’re working toward something imaginative and great and away
from the same old.
Practice #5: Keep your mind and space clear. De-clutter your home! What we’re wanting
is a clear mind, free from old patterns and things that no longer serve us. What better way than
to start by taking control of something tangible - your environment. Choose an organizing
strategy, for example, a category - and start sorting your possessions - clothes, books, papers -
and happily passing along the items that do not fit into your vision. You may say that this is one
of your goals after you retire, but by starting now, it allows you to be more comfortable, less
stressed, more fluid, and able to see new possibilities - without a lot of excess “stuff” dragging
you down. The process is eye opening and very liberating! And if you later decide to downsize,
your future self will thank you.
Practice #6: Look at your finances.
This might be obvious but to be retirement-ready, take a look at your expenses from all
checking accounts, credit and debit cards to see where your money is going. Does the way you
spend your money align with your values? Is there anything that can be eliminated - or can
you find a less expensive way to get it (i.e. changing phone/internet/cable or insurance
providers)? Take charge and tighten up the expenses that you can right now.
(see my comments about this published on marketwatch.com -"In The News" section)
Also, plan to pay off or down as much credit card debt and/or loans now. Sometimes it
isn’t possible to pay off everything before retirement, but wouldn’t it be nice to start your
retirement with a clean slate without having to immediately dip into your retirement lump sum?
Up to this point in the video, all of these practices to prepare you emotionally and mentally to
retire from the Florida Retirement System can be done on your own. The work is very reflective
and personal. You don’t need anyone to do this for you unless you really feel like you need a
coach. But being emotionally and mentally prepared for retirement is only the beginning. The
actual retirement process as it relates to your finances sometimes requires mental gymnastics
to capture all of the moving parts, as well as to maintain the integrity of your holistic plan on an
ongoing basis. That’s because your retirement money is what will fund a majority of your goals.
There is a lot going on at one time and you want to make sure you capture all of the moving
parts. To feel financially secure in this exciting adventure you’re about to embark on demands
time and knowledge.
So, the final practice - #7 - is to get the help of a Certified Financial Planner if needed. A
certified financial planner can help you holistically capture all of the moving parts of your
retirement, determine if consolidation of your accounts makes sense, help you craft a plan to
fund your goals and create a smart income strategy to help you potentially live the retirement of
your dreams. If you’d like to learn more then watch my video on how to avoid running out of
money in retirement by clicking here or simply schedule a virtual meeting with me.