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Building a Fulfilling Schedule in Retirement

Your IRA and 401(k) haven’t magically grown all by themselves. Your nest egg is the result of years of planning and hard work.

Unfortunately, many seniors don’t realize that their retirement schedules aren’t going to fill themselves in either. Our most successful retirees have put just as much thought and preparation into how they’ll spend their time as they have into how they’ll spend their money.

Here are four building blocks you can use to create an ideal retirement schedule.

1. Be specific. The happiest seniors don't retire FROM their jobs. They retire TO goals and activities that make retirement rewarding. Whether you're planning to launch a new company, see the world, volunteer in your community, or lower your handicap, get specific about what you want to do and whom you're going to do it with. You'll find that most items on your list have several sub steps that will keep you busy as you work towards achieving those bigger bucket list goals.

2. Ease into your comfort zone every morning.  When you were working and raising kids, your morning routine helped bring order to the chaos and get everyone where they needed to go. As a retiree, much of that chaos is gone, but that doesn't mean you don't still need some order in the morning. Create a new morning routine that feels less like rushing through a checklist and more like peaceful preparation for the day ahead. Fill that hour or two with exercise, prayer, meditation, or just a quiet breakfast on the porch with the newspaper.

These small activities can help condition you to get out of bed and start doing stuff – which, for many new retirees, is a really big part of learning how to enjoy retirement. Once you've finished your crossword puzzle and cleaned out the coffee maker, you'll be in your comfort zone and ready for the rest of your day.

3. Make the most of your time.  Without the strict deadlines and responsibilities of a 9-to-5 job, it's easy to lose days and even weeks puttering around the house trying to decide what to do with all your free time. As your bucket list gets backlogged, basic household to-dos start to pile up as well. Suddenly a messy kitchen and baskets of laundry are getting between you and planning a dream vacation or signing up for tennis lessons.

Retirees who say, "I'll get around to that," rarely get around to doing the things that would make their retirement more rewarding. Putting activities on a schedule creates commitments that you'll be much more likely to keep. Many retirees also find that structuring their days creates more time for unstructured free time that they use to experiment with new activities or follow a spur-of-the-moment whim towards a new lunch spot.

4. Unplug to recharge. After enjoying dinner with friends and family or catching up on your favorite binge watch, it's time to start sending your mind and body some power down signals. Close your laptop. Plug in your phone. Turn off the TV. Enjoy a warm bath or shower. Curl up in bed with a book. Reflect on your day with some pen-and-paper journaling. Prepare your body to enter a restful state and enjoy the peace of mind that comes from having a full, invigorating day already planned for tomorrow.

Very few of the folks we work with design a perfect schedule as soon as they retire. But the trial and error that goes into retirement can be part of the fun. Our Ideal Week in Retirement exercise can help you start preplanning how to spend your time while also leaving some room for exploration and adjustment. Make an appointment and we can get to work on your Ideal Week either virtually or in person.

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