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A Purpose-Driven Retirement: Find Your Purpose, then Fund It

A Purpose-Driven Retirement: Find Your Purpose, then Fund It

September 21, 2018

The financial profession spends a substantial amount of time discussing the topic of retirement planning.  However, I’ll be one of the first to admit that the profession focuses too myopically on the premise that retirement planning means money and investments, and that more of the two equals a happy retirement.  To prove this point, a major financial institution created a commercial several years ago asking the question “What’s Your Number?”, as if to infer that retirement is simply a numerical and monetary milestone a person must achieve.  As someone who works closely with retirees on a daily basis, this is a major flaw to the entire perception of what retirement is and what retirement should be. 

Prior to retirement, a person spends almost 7.5 hours per day doing things other than sleeping and work.  However, when a person retires, that time spent on “other things” more than doubles.  Although most of us may think that having this free time sounds wonderful, reality can be much different.  What most retirees don’t realize is that, over time, work becomes a social identity.  It becomes who they are and how they identify themselves.  Upon retirement, that social network and social identity can get left behind, leading to health issues like loneliness, depression, and in some cases even death.   

It’s true.  Studies have shown that individuals who retired at 55 and lived to be at least 65 died sooner than people who waited until 65 to retire.  In addition, those who retired at 55 were 89% more likely to die in the 10 years after retirement than those who retired at 65!  While there are numerous factors at play in the later years of a person’s life, one would have to conclude that retiring early without a purpose or the continued pursuit to find a purpose, plays a key role in these statistics.    

Not only does living a purposeful life make you 52 percent less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease and 44 percent less likely to have a stroke, it literally can add years to your life.  When thinking about retirement, most people envision these years as getting the opportunity to do things they weren’t able to do during their working years – travel, spend time with grandchildren, or take on a new hobby.  Having the physical and mental ability to do those things becomes especially important.  Therefore, wouldn’t you conclude that a happy retirement is determined by a sense of purpose in addition to money?  At Cuba Financial Group, we believe this to be true.  Retirement is more than a number; it is the pursuit of the next great chapter in your story.

A retirement plan should be first about finding your purpose, then funding it.  Then, and only then, is your plan ready to implement.