Thursday, October 22, 2009

Now Do It

There is an interesting challenge in the process of planning for retirement. At some point, you make the transition to retirement and it becomes time to shift your focus from building your plan to executing it! After so many years of planning and saving, suddenly it’s time to do what we prepared for and start spending our savings and retirement income according to plan. I know this seems obvious, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. We found this to be a surprisingly difficult change to make.

The transition period, from working life to retired life, is a time of tumultuous change. You close one chapter of your life and move into unfamiliar territory. Euphoria can be interrupted by occasional panic. Remember, you have a carefully crafted plan. You know what you want and have the means to enjoy life. Now do it.

Shortly after we retired in May of 2008, the financial crisis hit. The bottom dropped out of the real estate market, the stock market plummeted, and unemployment rose. Oops, we already were executing our plan and couldn’t turn back. Fortunately, we successfully sold our home, cashed the severance checks, and moved on. The situation required a few adjustments, but the fundamental plan was not affected.

A little bit of a leap of faith is required. Trust your plan. Let me give you an example. We budgeted for a celebratory retirement kickoff trip - the vacation of a lifetime. The financial climate caused us to postpone making specific plans for over a year. We wondered whether it would be injudicious to spend cash on luxury travel during these uncertain times. Finally, the lure of heavily discounted travel deals convinced us to make reservations for flights, hotels, and a cruise. Why? Life can be uncertain in so many ways. Today, it’s financial concerns. Tomorrow, it could be health problems. Next year it could be family issues. But right now, we have the money, we crave the experience, and it shouldn’t wait any longer. We’re doing it.

There are things I’ve always wanted to do for which I couldn’t (or didn’t) make the time. Between my career, maintenance of a house and yard, and family obligations, I found little time for my own leisure. I wanted to paint, make jewelry, write, enjoy my friends, exercise, and just have fun! The excuses I had for not doing those things has disappeared.

I’m taking my own advice, “Now Do It”. Just this week, I designed and made a bracelet, spent productive hours exercising in the Man Cave, wrote several blogs, and am looking forward to meeting new friends for dinner Friday night. I’ve moved on from planning to doing, and it feels great.

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