Monday, March 12, 2007

Retire Happy - Part I

In retirement planning there seems to be an abnormal amount of time being spent on figuring out how much you need to retire and not nearly enough on a much more important question: why do you want to retire?

For everyone the answer varies: I want more time to spend with the kids, or more time to travel, or write a book or even just to do nothing. In the end all the answers come down to the same thing: we are looking for more to our lives than just our jobs. We are basically looking to have a happier life.

Yet I keep hearing stories about people who work hard and get the gold plated pension only to find one year into retirement that they hate it! So what happened? They planned their money to no end and complete ignored the question of what are you doing one month after you have retired. If you don't know the answer to that question you better go back and rework that retire plan of yours to include some happiness.

But how do you generate happiness? Ah, that is a good question. Perhaps a better question to ask right now is how can I generate more happiness right now. Why should I even wait until I'm retired to be more happy?

The first step to happiness is rather simple. You have to remember how to dream. Not your typically night time dream, but rather day dream. It's playing that 'what if' game. What if I didn't have to got to work today? What would I do? Let your mind wander, trend down memory lane and recall your childhood dreams. What if you had unlimited time and money? What would you do? Then start to write it down. Your goal is to have a list going of things you want to do: travel, learn a language, learn a new skill or hobby. You don't have to be able to do them right away, the list is only to help you plot your dreams.

Although this seems like a simple exercise some people find it hard to do. A soul crushing job and other responsibilities can suck the life out of you and leave you empty of dreams. It's time to remember how to day dream again. I'll see you tomorrow as we keep looking for happiness.

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