When most people think of retirement planning, they think about investing, Social Security, and how they’re going to pay for their golden years. There’s much more to retirement planning, though, than simply crunching the numbers. In fact, the numbers themselves are a bit meaningless if a retiree doesn’t know how the money will be used.

When I sit down with clients who are nearing retirement, I encourage them to think about retirement in a larger sense. Rather than simply estimating their expenses and expected income, I ask them to think about what they want to do after they retire. In other words, I ask them to think not about what they’re retiring from, but rather, what they’re retiring to.

A New Chapter In Life

The retirements of the past may have been filled with rounds of golf, winters in Florida, and days upon days of leisure and relaxation. That attitude towards retirement planning may be changing. The AARP said in a recent study that 50 percent of Americans over the age of 50 are interested in starting their own business and plan to do so after retiring from their primary career.

Of course, starting a business isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Retirees are also filling their time in other ways. Some are embarking on new careers in lines of work in which they’ve always been interested. Others are committing themselves to charity. Still others are focusing on personal goals, like learning a new skill, travelling the globe, or taking up a new hobby.

An excellent example of a successful second act is the story of Richard Druckman. At age 72, Mr. Druckman was featured in a 2011 piece by ABC News. Mr. Druckman worked for 35 years at Bristol-Myers Squibbs before transitioning into a second career in photography.  He took photography classes and also reached out to a former Time Life and Sports Illustrated photographer who lived in Mr. Druckman’s area. Now Mr. Druckman is an established sports photographer and his photos of athletes like Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan have appeared in numerous publications, including Sports Illustrated.

USA Today recently featured New Jersey friends Linda Lombri, 65, and Virginia Cornue, 68. The two friends decided to fill the free time in their retirement by writing mystery novels under the pen name Crystal Sharpe. Their e-book series of Sandra Troux mysteries are now sold on 10 websites and they are releasing their third book in the series this spring. Neither had written fiction before retirement, but the friends now find it to be an enjoyable – and profitable – way to spend their time.

How to Plan Your Path

For many retirees, planning what they’d like to do with the rest of their life is a daunting challenge. Many of us have never had the choice to fill our time as we please. When we’re finally offered the freedom to carve our own path, the choice can be too difficult.

Dr. Nancy K. Scholssberg, Ed.D a world-renowned professor of counseling psychology and author of Retirement Smart, Retire Happy and Revitalizing Retirement has identified six main types of boomers and gave them titles. Although the definitions are flexible and you may not exactly fit into one type, it’s helpful to think about which type of retiree you envision yourself being. If you strongly identify with one type, that may give you a good indication of how you’d like to spend your retirement.

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