Posted On May 13, 2016

Values-Based Retirement

Reprinted with permission.

“Make love, not war!” was the rallying cry of the infamous ’60s’ generation. While many were talking about the ‘love’ part as reflecting a new sexual freedom, others were thinking about how to stop the Vietnam War.

Underneath it all values were being expressed. Perhaps not in the best way, but they were real. Values of caring for others, making the world a better place, a simpler place — and being a ‘better’ generation. That generation, known as baby-boomers, went on to ‘buy into’ the values they tried to reject. They sought to better their career, bought the house, then the bigger one, the car, then the bigger, fancier model, the cabin at the lake, the boat, and all the toys.

Even if satisfied with the life they’ve built, as this generation heads into retirement. They’re ready to revisit those ‘values’ that have laid dormant as they built their careers, had a family and did ‘what was expected’. Deep down, there is still a hope that they can make a positive change in the world.

So that’s why it’s good to champion a “values-based” retirement. How do we do that?

First we help retirees look at the values they held as children, teens and young adults.  Then we ask them to reflect on whether those values still stand. If so, identify them, if not, identify the values that are driving them now.

Values can be identified by our dreams – we know that. But what about our regrets? Can’t they also tell us something about what we value?  So asking retirees to look at their regrets is not as negative as it might sound. What do you wish you had done? What cause makes you sit up and listen? What makes your blood boil? Answering all these questions can point to values that could be used to guide retirement plans.

Successful retirement comes out of fulfillment. Fulfillment comes out of doing things that match personal values. Here are some statements that might be helpful:

  • Perhaps you have a unique opportunity to bless your children and grandchildren with your presence – at their sporting events, when they need rides and support, maybe even in ongoing child care.
  • Perhaps you would like to try ‘travel with a purpose’ where you can see places in the world you’ve never been – and help build a schoolroom while there.
  • Perhaps this is the time you want to explore further your spirituality – by attending classes, retreats or going on pilgrimage hikes.
  • What have you always wanted to do, but never had the time?
  • What is something you value — would like to contribute your time helping there?

These ideas and questions can assist those preparing to retire identify their own values and then have those values direct their retirement plans, hopefully to lead to true fulfillment in the retirement years ahead.