Retirement: Redefining Your 9 to 5

By Kara Harmon, Professional Consultant

As Family CFO’s, we have the privilege of assisting clients as they transition into retirement. After years of saving, investing and planning, it’s time for clients to enjoy the desired lifestyle they have worked so hard to achieve; however, before taking that leap into retirement, fear and apprehension can set in. After all, it is a big change. Especially when wondering, “What will I do every day?”

Jobs provide mental health benefits including:

  • Feelings of contribution and being appreciated
  • The satisfaction of solving problems and learning new things
  • Relationships with colleagues
  • Daily routines eliminating mental decisions about “what to do next”

The key to a positive retirement is to ensure these benefits don’t get lost, but are simply experienced in a different way. Here are a few recommended “do’s” of retirement:

Take time for you – So often, we rush through our daily routines. After retirement, take time to enjoy the calm. Relax with coffee and the morning paper. Reconnect with friends or take a class. Figure out what Twitter is all about.

Get healthy – Begin or enhance your exercise routine. Setting a routine time to exercise with a friend or loved one will provide encouragement, companionship, and sense of accountability. Learn the art of healthy cooking; maybe even take a class!Kitchen Conservatory and Dierbergs offer a variety of options.

Follow your passions – Julia Child once said, “Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” My father-in-law played 160rounds of golf in his first 10 months of retirement, an impressive stat! For others, gardening, art or photography is an enjoyable way to spend time. If you are curious about your family’s history, Central Library in Downtown St. Louis is nationally recognized as having one of the largest genealogical collections in the country.

Travel– For many retirees, travel extends beyond the Florida panhandle. Retirement is a time to visit places that you have always wanted to see, and to not only enjoy the destination, but the journey. Set out on a road trip to explore the Western states or the Great Rocky Mountains and research the sights, history, culture, or food. Organized tours through university alumni programs offer an educational travel experience, and local or web based travel agencies will help you plan the trip of your dreams. Make the most of your experience, like you never could while working.

Volunteer– Volunteering gives you a sense of purpose while benefiting others. Thousands of worthy organizations are in need of help, but it is important that you identify with the cause and the role fits your skill set and schedule. Websites such as can help you find the right charity.

Share your knowledge – A career full of experience and know-how can be immensely valuable to others. Nonprofit and corporate Boards of Directors seek talented individuals in a variety of disciplines. If you are not currently involved with a charity, there are several web databases established to match board members with local nonprofits. The larger, more prominent charitable organizations also have committees that provide support to the charity and their boards.  Business acumen is also needed within the business community. Through SCORE, retired business owners and executives offer free mentoring and workshops to start-ups and small businesses.

Pursue a new opportunity – Many find that the easiest way to transition to retirement is to go back to work, but on their terms. Companies greatly benefit from expert consultants. The knowledge held by retirees can be so valuable that they are called upon as expert witnesses in trial cases or to assist with government initiatives. As independent contractors, consultants determine when and how much they work. Others pursue a casual “retirement job” to keep busy and their mind sharp. An opportunity to make a little money while maintaining a desirable schedule and less stress may be right for you.

Whatever path you take, I encourage you to pause and celebrate your career and the transition into retirement. A month in Hawaii or a family reunion may set the right tone for many years of happiness.

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