It is now 11 month until I sem-retire. I planned the remaining vacation and make a checklist. The last year I already spent in the HQ doing internal stuff in a 8-5 job. That was a hard break after the former 30 years in which I traveled around as consultant and project manager and burned a lot of midnight oil for a multinational company. You will not hear any complaints. Neither for the last 30 years, nor for the last two years.  The company has been fair, I saw a lot and was reasonable paid. But now its over. And what do I do now. I will  retire early, guts feeling I can afford it. I need little. The mortgage is paid and we downsized to one BMW if needed to zero. Remaining big items are health care, energy and traveling.  Now I thought I learn from my predecessors and make a retirement checklist.2013_PreRetirementCalenderFa.

Retirement Road

Retirement Road


For many in my business, their transition into “early retirement” is happening decidedly sooner—and meaner. Even if that is happening with a fair employers’ historical grace and sensitivity the perplexing realities of this life event for outgoing runner in the fast lane remain. While the financial inducements for early retirement are reasonable (so far the meta environment in Europe is bad), the psychological atonement  thin— especially for men like me whose identities have hinged completely on their professional roles and accomplishments.

In my late 50s I am ready to g,o but still resent the reality that now I can’t do much to suppress this wave once it’s started. Further, I’m ill-equipped to manage it mentally because they’ve been denying the psychological attachments of retirement, of losing the perks of power, and of suddenly being more “lame duck” than ultimate decision-maker or at least the one who make the difference between success and failure. I have grudgingly accepted that I am not too unique, too gifted, too essential to be replaced anytime. I travel now only as tourist.I am a little worried about the bleak social landscape before me given all that I’ve sacrificed (rather neglected in my marital, family and other personal relationships. I don’t believe retirement will simply fall into place when the right time comes. Therefore I started a lot of tasks already but this is the official kickoff 2013_PreRetiementCalender.executor-checklist1

In consulting myself, I’ve discovered a five factor framework for focused and proactive planning. Actually, I’ve been thinking it’s never too soon for any of us to start this thinking about the “next chapter.” So with that thought, here’s a quick overview of the five inter-related factors and a starter list of questions related to each factor:

Purpose – activity that engages one’s mind, skills and experiences in ways that are psychologically stimulating and rewarding. This might be many different pursuits including a paid job, consulting, volunteerism, and/or the pursuit of certain avocational interests.

  • What can I do that will bring a renewed sense of meaning to my life?
  • How can I channel what I know and what I’ve done in ways that could make a difference for me and/or for others in my community?

Place – deciding where one prefers to live/work in this life stage – and making that happen.

  • Where do I really want to live now – do I prefer urban? Suburban? By a body of water? In the mountains? Desert? In another country?
  • Do I want to live in a few different places – depending on the weather?

People – deciding on the people whom one wants to work with and/or be logistically closest to for social reasons.

  • Who are the most important people in my life now and how can I set up my life so I get to see them as frequently as possible?
  • If I’m going to be working for some years longer, what kind of people do I want to be working with – what type of people will I get along best with and accomplish the most?
  • Whom do I have the most fun with and how can I plan this next chapter so we get to do the things we most love to do together?
  • How do I reconnect to my family – now that I am more at home?.
  • How do I reconnect to my neglected friends?

Physical – taking care of one’s physical well-being.

  • What changes can I make now so that I’m taking better care of myself? What goals do I need to set and achieve relative to things like exercise, walking, diet and sleep?
  • What resources (e.g. physical trainer, golf pro, yoga instructor, masseuse) do I need to identify and set a regular calendar of appointments?
  • Do I have the medical resources I need for good health maintenance?
  • Could I use some individual or marital psychotherapy as I make this transition?
  • Am I satisfied with my dentist and doctor?
  • Prosperity – tending to all relevant financial factors.
  • Have I completed the necessary financial planning? If not, what do I need to do now to ensure a sound fiscal future?
  • Have I taken care of family related matters such as a will, estate planning, and a living will?
  • Have I designated both an executor and a medical executor?

I basically have to reinvent myself before I retire. I just use the skills how I planned my project, laid the groundwork for a assignment abroad or starting a new design for to rolling out a new sofware release.  I need to do the same sort of script, right now.

“I tell man to start filling in their calendars for their first weeks and months of retirement at least three months before it’s going to happen,” a retirement coach said to me.

I need to decide what your retirement will look like. Do I want to consult after my leave runs out in about for years? Become more involved in the church or associations I am already belong to? Laying the foundation for these moves is a lot easier while I am still on the job and have access to vital contacts and support.

At the same time that I’m setting these lofty goals, don’t forget about the “me time” I’ve earned and deserve. Do I want to learn a new language? Take up tennis? Take a nap? Do a three month travel without the family?

“I make my clients write down everything they want to do — no matter how grand or small,” Gurney says. “That way, when the time comes, they’ve got a huge to-do list to contend with. The sense of loss from leaving the office isn’t so great.”

I should start talking to your spouse now.  Both of us should make clear what you want to do. Then we can figure out how you’ll use the pool of money available. My spouse does not realize that I look at things differently; but the more I discuss and negotiate, the more progress you’re likely to make. And keep in mind that we’re not used to  having our spouse around most days. While we may enjoy doing more things together once you’re both retired, it’s probably a good idea to talk about staying out of each other’s way too.

Any big change can bring feelings of discomfort and anxiety. And the transition to retirement can be especially tough becaus I missing the external structure.  Retirement is supposed to be relaxing and fun, but in reality, the early part of retirement can be a stressful time. There are a number of questions you should consider, along with your financial readiness, to establish if you are emotionally ready to enter retirement.

What does retirement mean to you?

You can spend years financially planning and thinking about what you’ll do, but often the reality of retirement can be quite different than the concept. Understanding what this really means to each individual can take a number of years to determine. After a number of months, you may find yourself wanting to work again, even if it’s a part time job. You may decide that traveling the world isn’t all you had thought it would be. Be prepared to be flexible with a potentially changing outlook on retirement the first few years.

If you are married, in a relationship or have a significant other, you’ll also want to check-in with one another to determine what retirement means to each of you. Retirement to you could mean traveling all over the world. Retirement to your significant other could mean only traveling to see your grandkids. Maybe one of you wants to keep working part time, which would limit any travel you can do together. Make sure you have open communication about what you foresee in this phase of your lives — start having these conversations early and often.

Are you ready for the non-structured life that retirement can provide you?

I’ve ever spent never more than four weeks at home during a vacation, had a sabbatical or experienced a job loss, but I’ve gotten a sense of what retirement may feel like. Going to work every day gives me a sense of purpose and structure — the lack of this during retirement is very scary. The thought of spending more than two weeks straight together is even scarier. This is where the mystique of retirement can wear off quickly. When all those chores you’ve been putting off are done, all the travel I’ve wanted to do has been checked-off, I may be left wondering — so now what?

You should also be prepared to know what hobbies and/or volunteer opportunities you may want to get involved with. This is usually the time when people find themselves perfecting their golf game, improving that serve or becoming active in the community. Remaining active helps to keep you healthy physically and emotionally as well as providing the structure you may be missing.

I’ve been working and collecting a paycheck for over 40-years, which provided me with a certain sense of security. Rather than being in the accumulation phase, you will now be in the withdrawal phase and drawing a “paycheck” from your own savings is hard. With the phasing out of company pension plans and the concern that Social Security benefits may not be as good as expected in the future, the responsibility now falls to me for securing a comfortable retirement:

  • Create your retirement “paycheck.” This phase of retirement planning includes finalizing your withdrawal strategy, and how much income will be drawn from retirement assets each month to cover your expenses. For the next two and a half year I still get paid by the company so there is no need withdraw  for retirement income.
  • Change my health care coverage. Work with my insurance to transition from your current plan into any retiree health benefits provided.
  • Make the mental transition… out of the workplace and into the next phase in your life, knowing that you did your retirement planning ahead of time, and that you have taken the crucial steps needed to ensure retirement readiness.

When I retire, I may have a third or so of my life ahead of you at max. The best way to prepare is to understand that retirement, similar to other stages in life, will offer a number of different financial and emotional phases. Sometimes the best remedy is to simply push through that anxiety and do what needs to be done. “You’re not alone,” “You will live through this.” The key is to focus on what will truly make you happy and not to give in to the negative feelings.

I  have not a lot of people who can support me as Iprepare for this new adventure. Now is the time to reach out to family and friends, some of whom you probably haven’t had time to see in a while. The meeting with wolfgang was a hint.