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Eliminate These 3 Retirement Stumbling Blocks

A successful satisfying retirement can be upended by any number of problems, some of which you determine and some of which you don't. Your lifestyle and genes will play a large part in your health. Financial planning will be a crucial factor in how comfortable your life is after retirement. Your relationships can help make daily life happy or miserable. 

There are three additional stumbling blocks to success that are completely under your control. None of them has to upend your journey. But, any one of them can, if you don't pay attention to their potential for problems.

The number one stumbling block is lack of self confidence

In previous posts I have stressed the importance of attitude in how satisfying your retirement will be. To steal an overused political phrase, I am doubling down on that belief by making this the most important stumbling block. You have made it this far in life by making more good decisions than bad, correcting mistakes, and maturing in your decision making ability. 

Then why is it that the thought of retirement can bring out a lack of self-confidence, a fear of taking any risks, a dread of making all the wrong choices? Recently I wrote about Stage Two of a typical retirement, the time of self-doubt and worry. It happens to almost everyone.

It happens because our self-confidence falters. Usually for no specific reason we begin to doubt ourselves and our decisions. And, for almost everyone, that period of fear and worry turns out to be unfounded. There is nothing wrong with introspection. But, when it throws us in a tailspin, we are putting our retirement progress in jeopardy. 

Second is sticking with your plan after it proves unworkable

I am a planner. My family used to joke that I had a do-to list that extended months in advance. Little did they know that I had another list that included the entire year! I like predictability and having a feeling of control. Unfortunately, I had to learn those personality traits don't always work well in retirement.

No obsessive planning, no mystic with a crystal ball, no blog or book, can provide you with the perfect plot for your journey. No matter how meticulous you are, the way you expect things to turn out, won't. What you want, what you need, what is important to you, will change over time. 

The second stumbling block to a satisfying retirement is the refusal to accept that reality and to continue to plow ahead with a plan that no longer works for you. The refusal to admit you are not the same person today that you were when your master life plan was developed will not end well. The dogged insistence on following your master plan, regardless, is not recommended. 

The third stumbling block is modeling your retirement after someone else's.

Wouldn't it be great if you could just find a book or web site that gave you a retirement model that you could follow, verbatim, and be assured of a wildly happy existence? Yes, it would. Too bad, there is no such thing.

Each retirement is unique. While my writings and those of thousands of others are meant to help you avoid serious pitfalls and give you lots to think about, no one else is you. Think of your friend who lives on a sailboat in the Caribbean, your sister who has a flat in Paris and spends her days painting street scenes, or even your parents who live in a retirement community and are busy and happy.

While there may be bits and pieces in each of those lives that are a good fit for what meets your needs and desires, none should become your life without putting the essential "you" in the equation. Following someone else's game plan is a guarantee of unhappiness at some point. The right path is the one you discover on your own, adjust as you go, and put your unique stamp on that life.

Visualize yourself as the man in the image at the top of this blog. Imagine yourself leaping over those three stumbling blocks. That is the way toward a satisfying retirement.


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