As humans, we are creatures of habit – especially when it comes to our careers. Most of us spend twenty, thirty, or forty years lacing up our work boots and heading to the coal mine.

But, what happens next – what happens after retirement – can throw us for a loop. What are we going to do once our working days are over and we have an extra 8-10 hours to burn each day?

Can You Add by Subtracting?

For many people, this nagging question never goes away. Fortunately, I do have some insight to share. One of the benefits of working exclusively with one particular demographic group (in my case, future retirees) is that I have the ability to see patterns and repeated behaviors in my pre-retired clients.

And, believe it or not, one of the scarier behaviors I see is when a client doesn’t have a carefully-crafted plan that goes beyond the numbers. Many times, the clients I meet with are dissatisfied with their careers, and I get that. Unfortunately, they tend to think that, by subtracting an unpleasant element (work) from their lives, they will somehow find happiness overnight.

They plan on adding by subtracting. Unfortunately, life rarely works that way.

How to Create a Post-Retirement Lifestyle that Works

While it’s crucial to make sure your finances are solid before you retire, there’s another component to consider. In my opinion, we desperately need to start emotionally planning for retirement well in advance of pulling the plug on our traditional careers.

Pre-retirees need to dedicate substantial time to developing habits, hobbies, and relationships now to ensure happiness and contentment in retirement.

When it comes to forming good habits, you should…

Examine your morning routine. What does your morning routine look like during your working years? Write down exactly what the first few hours of your day look like.

Which morning habits do you use to set yourself up for a productive day at work? And once you quit working, which habits will you pick up to ensure a productive day in retirement? Which habits will you drop?

Ask yourself, once you’re retired, how you’ll formulate your days so you remain happy, productive, and content. If you’re unsure, spend some time thinking through possible scenarios.

When it comes to hobbies, you should….

Ask yourself which hobbies and adventures you enjoy the most.  We all have activities in our lives that make hours pass like minutes, whether those hobbies include reading, woodworking, golfing, or working out.

Focusing on hobbies you truly love can be a giant step toward discovering your calling and creating a smart transition from your career to your calling.

Maybe you want to travel in retirement, write a book, or volunteer. Whatever excites you, start focusing on it now.

When it comes to relationships, you should…

Ask yourself which relationships you value most in this world. What is it about these relationships that makes them different than other relationships?

If you can discover what others value in you, you might discover an area others might also value. For example, finding out others look to you for leadership skills could lead to a post-retirement career in coaching, consulting, teaching, or mentoring.

Could analyzing current relationships help you identify your calling?

You may not know unless you try.

Finding Your Post-Retirement Purpose

If you don’t have a purpose beyond your career, you won’t magically find one once you quit working. Unfortunately, not having a purpose in retirement can leave you stressed, unhappy, and downright bored.

My happiest retired clients are the ones who are so busy with part-time work, volunteer work, hobbies, and grandparenting that they can barely find a few minutes to come into the office for a visit.

If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it a hundred times; a retired person with no life purpose quickly becomes bored. Unfortunately, bored retirees usually try to alleviate their boredom by spending money.

Spending money as a part of a written financial plan is fine, but throwing money at an emotional problem is rarely a proper, permanent solution. Not to mention that outsized spending will eventually leave you broke, adding to your problems!

It’s also important to note that you have until the end of your career to find your calling. Careers are not forever, but your calling can last a lifetime.

Eventually, you’ll need to draw a line in the sand and ask who you are, what you’re doing, and where you want to go. At the end of the day, finding your calling can help you create a lifestyle you don’t want to retire from.