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Vacation and Retirement

As I was enjoying my recent vacation, I thought about some of the articles I have seen indicating that retirement is very different than vacation. However, if retirement is not like vacation (in the sense that vacation is far more favorable to working), then why retire?

Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy my job. But vacation is a wonderful break - I get to have fun, relax, and spend time with my family. If I had to choose between my job and vacation, vacation would win every time!

So why can’t retirement be like vacation? Obviously, retirement isn’t a 365-day a year party, but I would expect it to be a more favorable alternative to traditional work; otherwise, I would just continue to work.

I know that finances are one key component. If the alternative to working is significantly less financial viability, then retirement would be a lot less fun. But personally, I can’t imagine that retirement will mean I completely cease income-producing activity. For example, I have a hobby I love that, given the added time that I will have in retirement, would certainly produce income for me. In addition, I continue to learn more about how to achieve financial independence, and I expect that learning curve to continue into retirement.

But, of course, there are also the non-financial elements of retirement. Some retirees identify with their job so much that they have difficulty finding an identity in retirement. Others suffer from boredom, as they no longer have a traditional work schedule to keep them occupied. Still others have a majority of their friends and other interpersonal relationships through work, so their social life suffers in retirement. I could certainly see myself falling victim to some of these issues.

To prepare for this, the time to start thinking about these issues is now - and NOT near, or at, retirement. Yet, almost all retirement preparation is focused on the financial, and little thought is given to these other aspects. So, as I spent my vacation thinking about how to make my own retirement more like vacation, I decided to try the following:

  • Take an inventory of interpersonal relationships (most of mine are, indeed, work-related) and begin to explore new relationships that will be positive in retirement. For example, I have neighbors who are already retired - what better people to get to know to see how they are dealing with these non-financial issues!
  • Develop a “bucket list” of things to do before you die. In my case, I’d like to write my autobiography (although you know me as a retirement plan adviser, I have actually lived quite an interesting life outside of my working career!). With a traditional job, I have only had time to write one page so far. But, by including this and other items on a list that I plan to tackle in retirement, I should be able to avoid the boredom trap.
  • Approach retirement as a “what happens next” opportunity, rather than “I’ve stopped working, now what?” Retirement provides an extremely valuable commodity: time. I need to figure out how to make the most of that time - which means continuing to do the things I love the most – which may even include traditional work! Again, the key here is that whatever activities I choose to pursue in retirement should be more favorable than traditional work - otherwise, why retire?

For me, the hope is that retirement will be as much like an extremely long vacation as possible!

Do you have any additional suggestions as to how to make the retirement experience as positive as possible? Let me know on LinkedIn, Twitter or at!

Note: This feature is to provide general information only, does not constitute legal advice, and cannot be used or substituted for legal or tax advice. Opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Cammack Retirement Group.

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