Thinking About Retiring? 6 Non-Financial Tips For A Happier Retirement Start

| June 3, 2021

retirementIf you’re considering calling it time to retire, then I have a few non-financial tips for a happier retirement start. A lot of my early retirement relied on winging it. I was aware of the non-financial aspects of retirement. But I primarily focused on all the money stuff. As far as non-financial aspects, things I thought were important really weren’t. Resulting in wasting too much energy on the wrong stuff. Not that it went bad, it just could have been smoother. 

Creating A Smoother and Happier Retirement Start

Forget about workplace legacy

I had a long career and the opportunity to improve the business and professionally influence, teach, and elevate a lot of people. In my final weeks before retirement, I expended way too much energy trying to feel that I was leaving a workplace legacy. Key takeaway here is “trying to feel”. The reality is we and our accomplishments are all soon forgotten. I realized soon after I retired that any workplace legacy is short lived as life moves on, as it should.

My tip is that anyone with notions of this sort should understand what you truly feel your workplace legacy is. Then why you feel the need to leave a legacy at work. Try to separate out what is being done for ego. Do only what is necessary to provide peace of your own mind regarding your retirement. There is absolutely no reason to run yourself ragged in your last months, days, weeks on the job trying to appease legacy vapor.

Give just enough advanced notice of your retirement to the boss

The best way to retire is on our own terms, when we decide it’s time. Some people like to just pull an abrupt exit either because their position allows for it or they have had it. Others may have critical responsibilities and still care about their career, wanting to leave on good terms without hurting the business or coworkers. If that is the case then it’s alright to protect yourself from adverse reaction to any announcement of retiring.

I gave my boss a month’s notice. Not that I hadn’t left clues of my early retirement thoughts long before, but it still came as an unwelcome surprise. It was a little too much notice and resulted in a lot of work and hours to cover them when I would have appreciated a gentler retirement takeoff.

My tip to anyone wondering how much notice to give is to keep it to yourself for as long as professionally possible. The very minimum is the same as any resignation, 2 weeks notice. If that is really still a thing. The other is giving approximately the amount of notice needed for them to reasonably find your replacement, within limits. I would set that timeline. Don’t wait on them to get started if they’re dragging their feet. I was later told I wouldn’t be replaced so I could have technically danced out without any notice. I learned my lesson, my second early retirement announcement was aligned with completion of my project. This time I let them know just in time as they were preparing to assign the next big project.

Treat any exit interview diplomatically

As a retiring employee, there’s really no beneficial reason to participate in a retirement exit interview. Unless of course you are counting on them bringing you back later for a sweet short-term contract gig. I would always rather not burn bridges even when there was a lot on my mind about what could have been a better company environment. Things that were done during my long career, dark motivations to retire early.

My tip, if you can’t avoid the exit interview altogether, play the middle of the road. I knew some of the things they don’t want to hear would just be marked as grumbling from a disgruntled employee no matter how beneficial it would be if improved. Positive things would be happily used in company promotionals to tell everyone still there how good they have it.

Preplan what you’re retiring to

Everyone knows to do this. I think when we are still on the job preparing for retirement that we over simplify what is really about to happen. The easy part is rejoicing in knowing what we are leaving. I know that I figured my hobbies and bucket list of opportunities was all I needed to know what I’m retiring to. I was wrong because there are a lot of mental adjustments when leaving behind the lifetime structure of a career.

My tip, make sure to add some structure to your retirement. Even if you have little to no big things to first accomplish, define your routine. Make sure it includes growing your social circle. It wasn’t until I retired that I realized that almost all of my social contacts were work related. It took some effort to grow it in retirement and I consider it my biggest retirement accomplishments.

Reinvent yourself because it truly is the perfect time to start your new life

The best part of retirement is having the opportunity to reinvent yourself. Being no longer limited by the definitions of career or unrewarding obligation. Let go of all the muck in life and start fresh with a value based mindset. What makes you tick? It felt liberating to be able to say no to things I no longer wanted to be a part of. I also refused traditional definitions of retirement itself. I embraced the definition that retirement is the absence of needing to work, not the absence of working. Taking on a couple of opportunities to learn and do things long interested in.

My tip is to be picky in whatever you decide you want to be. Walk past anything resembling the mud from your previous life and concentrate on the gold. No matter what anyone else thinks. Retirement means being able to make our own definitions about our retirement and what we want to be.

Give yourself time to transition

Retirement is a mindwarp. After the celebration, we all go through some things. Especially after the last paycheck clears. There are key steps we need to take to complete our transition from work to retirement. I know my retirement planning shortfalls came quickly to light. I not only had to put in effort to correct them but I also beat myself up for not being more prepared. That probably weighed on me more than the actual mishaps. What else did I fail to account for?

My tip is give yourself time to work through all of the unknowns of transitioning from career to retirement. We don’t know what we don’t know. Everyone will have their unique winging-it phase. It will all work out as long as we want it to and put in the effort.

Note: This article originally appeared at Leisure Freak.


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Category: Personal Finance

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Leisure Freak is a site dedicated to those who are truly passionate about reaching financial independence and early retirement. Not just the traditional definition of retirement, but a new passion-driven retirement.

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