Figuring Out Who You Are Can Help You With Retirement Planning

retirement planning, setting goals, Gertsema Wealth Advisors, St Joseph, Missouri

By Nick Gertsema, CFP®, ChFC®, RICP®, AIF®, VP & Wealth Advisor

If you were asked to sit down and define who you are, how would you describe yourself?

It is not uncommon for someone to tie a substantial portion of their identity and self-worth to their careers.

My Twitter bio says that I am a husband, father, wealth advisor, and Z-Man enthusiast.

When you think about it, it should not be a surprise that some of us tie our identities to something that we spend 40+ hours a week doing – and that becomes the driving factor in decision-making in our lives.

The vacations we take, the car we drive, the clothes we buy, the personal relationships we form, etc. are all impacted by our careers.

So what happens when it is over?

For most people, there will be a day when it is time to turn the page to the next chapter in their life and begin retirement.

Some retirees will be sprinting for the door, while some may linger and say their heartfelt goodbyes. They’ll pack up their personal belongings and wonder how the company is going to operate without them.

Then comes Monday. The doors to the company open and business continues uninterrupted. All the tasks the retiree used to do, someone else is now handling. For better or worse, the retiree has been replaced.

Where does that leave you? Have those conversations to find out.

Before you retire, it is a good idea to consider what is important to your next boss – that’s you.

It’s not unusual to get so caught up in the stress of retiring that you get short-sighted and don’t think about how you will transition into retirement.

A vast majority of people only retire once, so, understandably, you may not know what to expect. The freedom to do what you want when you want is one thing; figuring out what you want to do is another.

The decision to retire should not be only economic. You also need to consider your lifestyle.

Just because you can afford to retire, doesn’t mean you should. And, just because you are short of your retirement goals doesn’t mean you need to continue your current path.

If you can afford retirement, have you given thoughts to what your lifestyle will be in retirement?

Some people fear boredom or think they will miss the social engagement that work provides. Have you considered how you will spend your time and who you will spend it with?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to this. It’s important to sit down, think about these things, and share them with the people who it will affect.

You may be looking forward to time at home, and your spouse may be looking forward to traveling. These conversations can help reach a mutual understanding.

If you are falling short of your economic goals for retirement, there is still hope.

Just because you can’t afford to retire just yet, you may be able to consider some options. Maybe your employer would allow you to work fewer hours so you can gradually work your way into retirement.

If your current job is not what you want, you might consider an encore career doing something you enjoy to cover your retirement shortfall. You may even learn that your part-time encore career is more rewarding than your current job and work longer than you intended.

It may even make sense to look at your retirement income plan and see if you can make some changes or concessions.

Change can be stressful.

Retirement is a major change.

The late great David Bowie famously sang, “Turn and face the strange.” Deciding when to retire is not completely a financial decision. To fully embrace retirement, you need to consider other things.

We’ve been using the Retirement Reframed Questionnaire to help some of our clients understand and address some of their concerns about retiring.

If you want to dive deeper into your retirement planning journey, email me at I’ll be more than happy to send you a complimentary Retirement Reframed Questionnaire – and we can walk through the results to help you prepare for your retirement together.


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