I’m saddened by a report I recently read in U.S. News about how retirees spend their time.
Retirees as a whole spend more time watching TV than any other waking activity. They spend about half their free time doing it, in fact. That’s four hours per day of sitting there doing nothing.
Guessing these people didn’t have many reasons to retire other than an age target.
The next largest time suck besides TV is doing housework like gardening, food prep, cleaning, and more. Retirees spend about 45 minutes more doing that every day than pre-retirees.
Working average is an hour for retirees, which is about the same amount of time they spend reading. Shopping occupies 51 minutes of their time, and volunteering takes up about 30 minutes per day on average.
Volunteering barely beat out 26 minutes of TV without the TV – or as the article calls it, “relaxing.”
Is this what you want your retirement to look like? That was a whole lot of excitement in those last few paragraphs, I know. Try to keep your breathing calm.
I’m guessing if you’re preparing for retirement, you’re not thinking to yourself, “All right! I’ll soon be able to get caught up on ‘Days of Our Lives.’”
Do you have good reasons to retire?
No one goes into retirement hoping their days will look like what I described above.
Where’s the purpose?
In my experience meeting with people who are about to retire, what they crave is freedom.
But they don’t always have a goal for how to use their newfound freedom. And that’s the problem. That’s why TV rises to the top. Because a fail to plan is a plan to fail, as Benjamin Franklin wisely posited.
I did a survey of thousands of listeners of my Retirement Answer Man podcast some time ago, and 54 percent said they valued freedom above all else while planning for retirement.
Retirees crave freedom from the work life they no longer enjoy. Freedom to build and grow what they want to build.
And yet the sad reality is that too many retirees build a strong sense of what’s up next on TV, instead. That’s certainly the easier, more normal and available route.
But you’re not normal, are you?
I know, because I talk to my listeners and readers often, and I talk to my financial planning clients. They tell me what they dream of for their retirement. They have a purpose.
At least, most of them do.
Retire with a purpose
I can usually spot the clients with few reasons to retire who will end up watching twice as much TV. They’re the ones who come to me and passionlessly say, “I guess retiring at 63 would be a good target, don’t you think?” like they were randomly pulling it from the air.
Or they focus on a magic number: “Once I hit X amount, I’ll be set. I just have to suck it up and bust my butt until then.”
One couple like that, Phil and Nora, retired in their 50s through a financial advisor friend of mine. My friend went to visit with them and see how retirement was going, only to find out it looked a lot like the life I described in the first few paragraphs.
“There are days I have done everything I can think to do and by 10 in the morning I’m drinking beer, eating peanuts, and thinking, what happens now?” Phil said.
My friend realized he’d made a mistake in helping them plan. He’d planned based around money, rather than how the money would be used to improve their lives and the lives of others.
“I helped them with numbers, but failed to address the critical psychological and social aspects of life,” my friend told me.
Do you see how people like this could end up in front of the TV for the rest of their lives? To them, retirement is more about cutting loose from responsibility than building the life they really want.
On the other hand, I have clients who talk with me about their lives, goals, and aspirations. They talk about spending more time with teenage children about to leave the house. They talk about experiencing more of life while they’re healthy. Hobbies. Goals. Inventiveness. Businesses. Time with friends.
These people are planning for something, and they have purpose.
Unlike our parents, when we reach “normal” retirement age, we’re at the top of our game. We’ve got connections. We’ve got experience. We’ve got the hard-earned wisdom and maturity that only comes with time. We’re not worn out from physical labor, so we still have energy to pursue things we actually care about.
The key for us in this generation is to reimagine retirement. You need to see retirement as a life where you gain freedom as you age so you can pursue the things you truly care about.
It isn’t about dropping responsibility, it’s about finding, creating, or taking on responsibilities that meet your soul purpose.
Let me help you do that so you can Rock Retirement.
Question of the Week
What’s your driving purpose for retirement? How will you make the world a better place with your time freedom and financial freedom?