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Marion Syversen Marion Syversen
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I wish you a very happy retirement

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Retirement. We spend years saving and planning for these happy years. But not all of us plan well for our retirements. Because we don't plan how we'll LIVE in retirement. What do I mean?

Identity - What do we usually ask when we meet a kid? For me it's, 'What grade are you in? What subjects do you enjoy in school? Do you play a sport?'

We humans initially understand a new friend by what they do, maybe by their hobbies and other activities. But when we retire, our identity, usually so comprised of the tasks surrounding our job, no longer comes from our 9-to-5 job. Psychologists have found that the more closely an individual identifies with their work role, the harder the transition into retirement can be, meaning that in retirement you could feel loss, depression, separation from friends - a whole host of things you may not have considered.

Transition - To ease the transition from work to retirement, start thinking about your future life. Several years prior to your scheduled retirement, give serious thought to the dreams of what your ideal life in retirement would 'look' like. Have you longed to help kids, play your favorite sport or enjoy your favorite hobby? Imagine what a typical day after retirement would include. Really think about waking up, having your coffee, and then what next?

Retirement can be like summer vacation when you were a student. The first few weeks with nothing to do are dreamy. But after a while, people with too much time on their hands and not much structure can get into mischief. Your first few weeks or months of retirement may include sleeping or hanging out. But for many, your former work friends and the camaraderie of being part of a team working towards a united purpose was an enjoyable part of the job. But your work friends are still working. Having something to look forward to, being part of something, gives purpose to life and shape to our days.

Retirement work' - Let's say helping kids was a passion, and that your dream job would be helping or mentoring kids. Look for ways to fulfill your dream as a volunteer. Can you imagine the joy of child care providers or schools in having someone available to assist them in a classroom with kids as a volunteer?

Is it sports that ignites your spirit? Are there leagues available to you now that you have more free time? Is community service of interest to you? Consider joining the many area service groups such as Kiwanis, Friends of the Library or the hospital auxiliary. Having a place to be, 'work' to do even if unpaid - and friends who share your passion, will give structure to your retirement and interest and fullness to your life.

It may not seem intuitive that having 'work' in retirement needs to be part of your life plan, along with a good savings plan and budget, but we have all heard stories of folks who retired and then withered away, perhaps because they were set adrift. Make a retirement plan that is more than just about income. For a long and happy life, make a retirement plan that includes your heart.

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