Below are 10 of the most difficult retirement questions you will ever be asked. It’s a short but painful test that is designed to give people pause and question the ways they have been taught to think about and plan for retirement.
Each question only requires a simple “Yes” or “No” answer. Scoring is simple, each “Yes” answer counts for 10 points. When finished, total up all “Yes” answers for your final grade %. Anything below a 60% is failing and should garner your immediate attention.
1) Did you know that 23 of the 43 most stress life events can take place at or near retirement?
In fact, the act of retirement by itself is in the top 10 of the most stressful list. The reality is, transitions of any kind can be difficult and take time to acclimate to. Knowing this ahead of time and having access to the tools and resources for it can go a long way in helping you deal with the ups and downs you may experience when you leave the workplace.
2) Do other people want you in their social network for retirement?
In my retirement coaching books, workshops, and sessions I often talk about the essential role of one social network in retirement. This includes talking about who you want to surround yourself with. However, where most people fall short is assessing their role in friendships. Are you a good friend who invests time and support in others? Are you fun, optimistic and reliable? What traits do you seek in friends and what traits do you offer?
3) Will extra time in retirement be enough to make up for any family relationships that suffered as a result of your career?
Too often I hear from retirees that they have a strained relationship with their children and since retiring have done everything they could to reconnect and be a part of their life. That’s great, but just because you have extra time or desire, doesn’t mean they do. They may not only be busy professionals, but they may also harbor some negative feelings that aren’t just going to disappear because you retire.
4) Does your current health truly support your perceptions of the life you plan to lead in retirement?
People have these grand visions of walking on the beach, playing on the floor with the grand kids, tending their garden, and biking the board walk. Yet, they have been so busy at work, their health has taken a backseat. One study I found stated that nearly half of all Baby Boomers said it was difficult for them to kneel or stoop, stand for two hours, walk one-quarter mile, climb 10 steps without resting, sit for two hours, lift and carry 10 pounds, reach over their heads, push or pull a large object, or grasp small objects. That’s a lot of people who may not be able to do the things they imagined.
5) Have you created a document to pass on your personal values and beliefs?
Simple fact, passing on wealth will not give your kids or grand-kids wisdom. However, passing on your wisdom can help ensure they maintain it and potential grow it. I am always surprised to see people spend thousands of dollars to write down where their money will go, but won’t spend a few hours writing down their values, beliefs, and other personal assets.
6) Do you have a written plan for non-financial aspects of retirement?
A truly comprehensive retirement plan should address the mental, social, physical, spiritual, and then financial aspects of life after work. Unfortunately, people have been wrongly trained to think retirement planning is about having the right amount of savings and asset allocation. Therefore, they assume the more personal aspects will fall into place. But that’s not the case. Leaving work creates a huge void for people and you need a plan to replace your work identity, relationships, physical activity and more.
7) Do you know when you are going to die?
This may seem like a trick question, but the point is, many people enter retirement thinking they have all the time in the world to do what they want, when they want. As a result, they haven’t prioritized what’s important to them and therefore, can end up sick, hurt, or alone and regret not using the time they did have. This is why I ask people to write down what they would regret if they were told that they only have a 48 hours left to live.
8) Are you prepared to become a caregiver in retirement?
Most people don’t retire with the plan of caring for a loved one. However, incidents of care-giving are increasing as society continues to age. According to AARP, an estimated 16.6% or 39.8 million Americans are considered caregivers, with the majority of them being female (60%). This makes it more important than ever to retire in a place with access to good medical care, support systems, and the financial means to remain independent in your home.
9) Do you have a “Plan B” in case the volunteer work or part-time work you hoped to do in retirement doesn’t turn out as expected?
It’s common for people to plan to do some volunteer work or get a part-time job in the early stages of retirement. The problem is, most people have these vague assumptions about what they will look and feel life, and just assume good things will happen. Then suddenly they are thrust into a situation where the non-profit work they hoped would be so rewarding, is a downright drain. Or that the part-time gig with ideal hours and pay is now bleeding over to weekends and unexpected frustrations with lazy co-workers. This is why it’s so helpful to practice volunteering at various places and to try a few part-time gigs before pinning your hopes on one specific outcome.
10) Did you like this test?
This is an easy 10 points, right? Actually, this question is really about your attitude about retirement planning. So many people don’t think or plan for these non-financial aspects until it’s too late. They put it off, prefer to avoid the tough topics and questions, hoping that it will just work itself out. And usually it does, but the problem is, you can lose some of your best and healthiest years trying to figure it out. So, get a non-financial planning book like Naked Retirement or work with a Certified Professional Retirement Coach so that you can not only thrive in retirement, but also come back and pass the quiz on your second time around. It will put you in an exclusive group of people who understand that the new era of retirement planning requires a plan that goes beyond the dollars and cents.