Our office regularly fields calls from people in the planning stages for making this major turn on life’s highway. This week alone, we have spoken with 5 by phone and 5 via email. Some of those contacts originate with those who are planning years in advance. Some originate with people who are applying the brakes, because their turn is merely feet away.
Our headline image for this post includes the popular phrase of making the rest of life the “best of life,” because that is everyone’s goal. It is part of our hope for every participant in the Christian Churches Pension Plan. A significant part of the American Dream has been to achieve a financially secure retirement. Our hope for everyone is for the ability to pursue your passions during the senior years. That is not the case for everyone. Unforeseen health issues for seniors, and for their descendants, can derail the best of plans. Pandemics like COVID-19 can force undesired changes in our plans. When the unforeseen strikes, our best response is to lean upon God’s presence, strength, and wisdom as we adjust our plans for the future.
Having a plan for our future that has been prayed for and thoughtfully designed will help us make the senior years the best they can be. We regularly scan the headlines of periodicals searching for concepts to help everyone create such a plan. We have gleaned these ideas recently that may be helpful as you dream about your future.
- If your “dream” includes a job, you are not weird. More than 55% of Baby Boomers not only expect to continue working, they WANT to continue. For most, there will be a CHANGE in the burden of responsibilities, but there will continue to be productive work. One of the members of the Board of Governors of the Christian Churches Pension Plan long planned for his “purpose driven retirement,” changing from the Senior Minister’s role of a rapidly growing church to serving part time with a mission work. Almost 60% have said their reason for continuing to work was based upon their mental well-being. If your reason is financial, that is fine as well. We should not look at this as a failure to plan, but we should view it as an opportunity for God to continue using our gifts to help others. Yes, we should plan early, and we should save early in order for us to work as we want. However, wanting to continue working in some capacity is natural.
- The possibility of moving during retirement should be a part of everyone’s consideration. Choosing where we are to live is a financial AND emotional decision. Some of us want a different climate. Some of us will want to move to a location offering better healthcare. For some, there is a place we have longed to live. For some, staying put is the right choice. Will downsizing help? Studies have found that downsizing can actually add almost a decade of productive years. However, for some caring for the landscaping and the garden is just what they need physically and emotionally. Some will discover later on that the hobby of caring for the homeplace transitions into a burden. Almost two-thirds of Americans find that moving during retirement is the right choice. So, thinking now about moving at some point in the future is absolutely a wise thing to do.
- Plan for lots of changes…and plan to be surprised. Goodness, Baby Boomers should be used to a life that includes rapid change. We were born in an era when telephones were metal objects wired into the home, and the radio was a piece of furniture. Now our phones never leave our side, and we can even watch television on them. Sixty years ago, most had never seen a computer. These days, we use them daily. Retirement is an age that will absolutely bring change to us physically. We need to find ways to stay active. We will probably need to change our diet. Our bodies are changing, and we cannot prevent that altogether. We do not need to try to hold on to youthfulness as much as we need to discover new ways of being useful! Fighting, resisting, and resenting change can rob us of the joy that God desires for us in our senior years.
The exit ramp for retirement comes for all of us. No matter how well or poorly we have prepared for it financially, it is coming. It has come for every generation before us. Just as we are all a bit different in height, weight, talents, and skin color, retirement will not look exactly alike for any of us. The one thing that is constant is CHANGE. Let’s embrace the change. As much as we can, let’s make the rest of life the best of life!