Joe Bantz, CFP®, AIF®

Ahh . . . retirement – that golden ring that you work 20, 30, 40 years to grasp. That elusive, mysterious goal masked in uncertainty. As an advisor, I have that discussion hundreds of times every year, looking at the financial dimension of retirement, helping strategize how to answer the, “Do I have enough?” question.

Yet, I’ve found the conversations taking a different direction lately. More and more clients, particularly physicians, are asking, “What’s next?” Many are thinking about retirement as an opportunity to re-define themselves – focusing more on making an impact than making an income. The added benefit is that many of these options also produce an income.

I got to spend time with a client last week that perfectly illustrates this idea. After serving admirably in his profession for over thirty years, he decided to trade his editor’s pen for a handyman’s apron; he and his wife now rent out two mountain properties on their land, meeting interesting people from around the world. He provides the “general contracting” on the maintenance, upkeep, and improvements, while hiring their adult children to do the cleaning and extra labor. From a financial perspective, the income has been sufficient to keep him from tapping into his retirement funds, allowing them more time to grow.

Perhaps we are on the verge of a new retirement standard. For physicians, that might be working part-time, mentoring younger protégés, or serving the medically under-served population. When financial independence (or “financial freedom”) has been achieved, the need to generate income no longer has to be a primary driver. Imagine working on your own terms – maybe two days a week, 4-6 hours/day, with no call. Or every Tuesday and Wednesday each week … unless you are out of town on vacation. You may find such joy and satisfaction that you’ll never want to stop!!

Here are some suggestions to begin this thought process:

  1. What is something you do that you enjoy so much that you forget to eat? My dad loved to work on projects. In fact, in the weeks before he and mom would visit, my wife would make up a lengthy to-do list for him (usually consisting of projects I had avoided since the last visit!) so that he would have enough to keep busy, which in turn kept him happy!
  2. What did you love to do as a child but no longer have time for? When I was a boy, I would spend hours being a sports announcer – often “calling” my own baseball games as I played with a tennis ball against our barn door. Perhaps I should consider volunteering at the local high school when I stop working at Foster Group, or maybe see if the I-Cubs need a new play-by-play announcer!
  3. If you knew you would die in 12 months, what would you want to be remembered for? While it’s cliché to say you never know when you die, it’s also true. Tim McGraw wrote a song about this – “Live Like You Were Dying” – but it’s primarily self-focused. Most of us want to leave a legacy of sorts, so thinking about how you want to be remembered is a great way to determine what is most important to you.

Redefining retirement starts by thinking about retirement differently. Remember, it’s possible that you could be retired longer than you actually worked! So, make those years count for something. Ask your financial advisor about this the next time you get together, and begin today to make the ideal retirement possible for you!

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