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Myths about Retirement – Part 1

Just like most things you don’t really understand, it’s easy to believe the stories you hear about retirement. Some are true. But, there are a fewwidely held beliefs about life after your career that are largely false today.

Myth #1: “This is the beginning of the end and all I will do from here is decline.”

Meryl Streep once asked an audience, “In 1950 when Bette Davis starred in All About Eve, a movie about a way-over-the-hill actress, how old do you think she was?” After a brief pause, she answered her own question, “She was 40.” That perception of being ‘over-the-hill’ at 40 is pretty far from today’s reality. Just look at Betty White who is still acting on TV and in movies well into her 90s.

Ken Dychtwald, a visionary on aging in America, says, “We never had long-lived people before. We never had 60-year-old newlyweds, 90-year-old marathon runners, or 65-year-old rock and roll stars.” Today there are lots of examples of people smashing this old myth.

  • John Glenn passed the physical to go back into space when he was 77.
  • People over 55 represent the largest age group of ownersof new business start-ups.
  • In April 2018, 203 peopleover the ageof 70 finished the Boston Marathon – 7 of them were over 80.

Jimmy Carter was “fired” from his job of President at the age of 57 and look what he went on to do with his life – and still is at the age of 93. He said, “You are only old when regrets take the place of dreams.”

The truth is retirement is no longer the beginning of the end but is the beginning of a rewarding new stage of your life.

Myth #2: “Successful retirement just happens automatically.”

There are some lucky people who sail smoothly into this new chapter and live happily ever after without running into any unseen rocks along the way.

But, that is not how it unfolds for mostof us. In 2015 Ameriprise Financial released the findings in a study they conducted among 1000 people who had retired in the past 5 years and had at least $100,000 in investible assets. The asset requirement removed the issue of not having saved enough for retirement.

Ameriprise found that 69% of the people they talked to had challenges adjusting to this big change in their lives.

Then they looked at what made it hard for so many to adjust. The three most significant challenges thatmost of us face are:

  • Losing connection with colleagues
  • Getting used to a different routine
  • Finding a purpose – feeling that what they are doing matters

These were important aspects of our career that we lose when we moveon. However, they can be replaced. It just usually takes some time and introspection to figure out the best way to do it. Before you see the solution clearly, it is normal to feel a bit directionless, like you are adrift, or that you just need something more.

After leavingyour career, you may need to do some private grieving. You have lost your old, familiar life.Thisis especially necessary whenit was a life you enjoyed. As you buildyour new life, it is important to be sure you are replacing the things you enjoyed about your career in some way.

It usually doesn’t just happen automatically. You have to make conscious decisions about what you want your life to be like and then take action to make it happen.

If you buy into myths like this, it can be difficult to see other possibilities that could make your life very different. You will make choices that make those myths become self-fulfilling prophesies.

Next time we’ll talk about Myth #3 – “You have to get it right the first time.”

Retirement Triggers by Ameriprise, Feb 3, 2015

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