I am the youngest child in our family. I don’t have any cousins, and nephews didn’t enter the picture until I was 24 years old. I think that kind of gave me a ‘younger’ mindset. I will always be the youngest, no matter what, in my own mind at least.
The thing is, I am 43 years old now, and I am not so ‘younger’ anymore. I am old enough to need certain tests done every year, my metabolism isn’t as lightning quick as it used to be, my body aches a bit more when I play racquetball now. I have to face it, I am staring ‘middle age’ right in the face.
This is quite an eye-opener for me. I am not depressed or anything, I just realized out of the blue that I really need to start thinking about some things now that I am getting older, such as:
- Retirement. We are now closer to the end of our careers than the beginning. When I first started working, I could pick a higher risk saving portfolio because I wasn’t going to be touching that money in FOREVER. Guess what? Forever isn’t that far off anymore. We don’t have a definite retirement date in mind, but it will most likely be within 12 years or so, if all goes well. That means a thorough evaluation of our retirement portfolio is in order.
- Health. I am pretty healthy fortunately (knocking insanely on wood right now). However, I want to be in great shape. I want to be able to do whatever I want in our elder years. I know weight packs on easier as you get older, so I want to be as fit as I can be. I have stopped drinking pop, and now I need to step up the exercise routine. I also plan to get a physical annually so I can keep an eye on my cholesterol and such.
- Me. The last 16 years have revolved around my 3 kids, and I think I may have gotten a little lost in the shuffle. In just 5 years, my nest will be empty; although it will probably feel empty sooner because I am sure my youngest will not just be hanging around the house in his high-school years. I have started to take more time for myself, but I really need to think about what I want for myself, and come up with a plan to attain it. I know those years will be great, they will just be different.
- Travel. What are the things in the world that I really want to see (realistically)? Besides traveling to Canada and crossing the Mexico into Tijuana for an afternoon, I have never left this country. There are locales I see on ‘House Hunters International’ that look fascinating to me, but I really am not worldly at all. I would like to learn more about some other cultures and countries and see where I would really like to visit. I don’t mean for a week, but maybe for a couple of months. (I plan on being unusually well-off in retirement. :) .) I have often thought about owning a second home somewhere warm, but I think I would prefer a different experience each year, as long as I am still healthy and mobile.
- Volunteer. As my kids become less and less time consuming, I would love to spend more time volunteering. I want to find something that really clicks for me so I do not burn out.
I really suggest that everyone take a step back and look at what their next phase in life is. I think it is much easier to transition into these ‘new’ phases if you are somewhat prepared. I know several people that retired fairly young, and it wasn’t nearly the dream they thought it would be. Some of it is psychological. I am sure it is difficult to go from being a respected executive at a company to being at home and feeling not needed anymore. When you are working 60 hour weeks, the ability to sleep in may seem like it would be the best thing in the world. However, suddenly being retired without any deadlines can be a hard thing to deal with if you are not prepared. I think it would be ideal to ‘slowly’ retire. Maybe consult for a while part-time or something instead of going from one extreme to another. Regardless, try to think ahead wherever you are in life. Live for the present, but be prepared for the future.
So, do you have a plan for your next phase?