We humans have a tendency to say odd things at times, even though we mean well.  This is most prone to happen in a visitation line for a friend or relative that has passed away.  Walking through the line, “Sorry for your loss” seems most appropriate, but also feels empty.  “He’s in a better place” may provide some comfort, but again, depending on the situation, the widow may believe the best place is right there beside them instead of this ethereal “better place.”  I had a friend who lost his wife to breast cancer at a very young age.  A handful of people in the visitation line said to him, “Don’t worry, you’ll get married again soon.”  Odd thing to say in that moment.  But they meant well.  So, we show grace in those moments.

In my line of work over the past 20 years, I’ve helped a myriad of my clients retire.  One saying I’ve learned to stay away from next time I see them at their investment review… “Staying busy?”  I don’t know where I picked up on that in the first place, but I’ve embarrassingly asked it more than once.  I’ve since stopped.  Why?  Because the implication is that once you’ve retired, you’ve resigned yourself to a life of emptiness and boredom.  And by me asking if they are staying busy, I’m making them feel that just because they don’t work, that they are somehow resigned to hours of staring at a wall.  But the fact is that while the retirement transition can be challenging, once settled, you can be busier than when you had a full-time job!

Case in point, last fall, a client of mine transitioned into retirement.  Fortunately, this client knew their own tendency to be Type A and always be busy.  She was completely burnt out of her job and ready for a relaxing change of pace.  My experience, as my long-time readers know, has trained me to be super intentional with my retiring clients, not just from the financial side, but from the non-financial side as well.  (For my not so long-term readers, head over to YouTube to watch my Book Trailer Video that explains why I’m so passionate about this subject.)  So, I strongly recommended that my client and her husband attend our Refocus on Retirement Workshops™ where we deal with the life transition from a career to what’s next.  The live and virtual Workshops provide actionable content and tools for attendees to arm themselves with as they prepare to live a life of meaning beyond retirement.

I no longer ask any of my retired clients if they are staying busy.  You see, staying busy is not the goal.  The goal is to stay engaged, stay interested in learning, stay committed to personal health, stay involved with family, friends and community, stay open to new experiences.  During our working careers, culture has brainwashed us to believe that staying busy implies success.  But to the retiree, that’s simply not the goal anymore.  It’s to stay impactful.  It’s to continue a life of meaning beyond retirement.  It’s to make your second half more purposeful than the first.

The other day, I received a note from that client who’s now a few months into her retirement.  Here’s an excerpt:

Thank you!  I’d like to thank you all again for your help in getting [my husband] and me to this point.  I know I’ll be more comfortable with this transition with a little more time.  But I have been amazed at how busy I am!  All the things I squeezed into my evenings is now happening throughout the week.  And I love it!  [We] are also thankful for participating in the retirement workshop.  I think I’ll really appreciate it this fall when things start feeling ‘normal’ and I’m developing new routines.

Have a fantastic day!

Notes like these inspire me to continue the legacy my mom left to others.  If you or someone you know is facing a retirement transition, I’m here to help.  No, you don’t need to be a client of our firm to go through our Workshops.  We simply want to help.  It brings us joy to know that we can help make sure the retirement transition is smooth and purposeful.

I’m hopeful you’ve learned, as I have, that it’s not about staying busy, it’s about staying engaged.  Live on purpose today!