Dreams of Retirement? Watch for Pitfalls
Early last year, a client who was a month away from retiring walked into Matthew Jackson’s office and asked him to manage his money. Then the client started pulling financial statements out of a folder and slid them across the desk.
“I’m excited for you,” Jackson recalled was his first reaction. “But let’s talk more about what you want to do with your money, rather than want you want to do for your money.”
The client “looked at me and then past me. In 4 or 5 seconds he said, ‘Matt I have no idea.’”
To prod others into weighing this critical question for themselves, Jackson wrote a book, “The Retirement Dreammaker: Master the Art of Retirement Abundance.”
And the dream maker is not Jackson – it’s you.
People facing impending retirement are about to hop on a wild ride that will take them from the emotional high of having the freedom to do whatever they like to an unfamiliar low: no job to give them purpose. Because of that, Jackson is on a mission to warn baby boomers they need to really prepare emotionally for retirement, just as they should prepare financially. (A financial planner turned financial coach, Jackson’s new book also includes a financial chapter.)
“The ultimate freedom is the freedom to follow your purpose,” he said in an interview.
Jackson’s goal in trying to help people who don’t prepare emotionally is not simple but boils down to this: he does not “pump people up – rah-rah.” He prefers to warn of the six retirement pitfalls:
- Lack of money. Granted, many retirees do, indeed, live on the edge financially. But the feeling that they don’t have enough – whether or not they do – “paralyzes people,” he writes. The root cause is a consumer society bombarding us with one message: stuff equals happiness.
- Lack of permission. Retirees who feel they don’t have enough money don’t give themselves the permission that is required to spend it in pursuit of a passion.
- Health. When healthy baby boomers picture retirement, they don’t see the failing health that could spoil their paradise. “So why do we live in such a state of denial?” Jackson asks. It’s important when planning retirement to consider the consequences of failing health – and then hope for good health.
- Isolation. Puttering around the house sounds great for workers with little time for themselves. In retirement, loneliness becomes a risk, as friends move away, as it becomes increasingly difficult to remember to hear conversation in social gatherings, and as grief or physical limitations strike. Isolation and loneliness do damage, research shows, including increasing the risk of dementia. So find ways to stay engaged.
- Waiting for milestones. In life, we lurch from big event – graduation, new car, new house – to big event – first Social Security check, dream house, grandchildren. Unfortunately, divorce, ill health, and death are aging milestones too, Jackson writes. Take that trip, follow that passion, find that soul mate now!
- I’m old and irrelevant. Low self-esteem is a retirement affliction among people who give up their careers and then find that it’s difficult to land something fulfilling to occupy them. A related feeling is irrelevance – an example is older people not keeping up with technology.
Stay relevant by finding your purpose, Jackson advises. This is where the hard work begins.
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