When it comes to retirement, not many people think things through enough to find themselves living their golden years the way they believed they would. If you take a step back and reflect on your life before retirement, you might find that you might have done some things differently to actually have the present that you dreamed of.
This is not to say that you should live with regrets, after all, the decisions you took back then seemed the appropriate ones in those moments. However, as you move on to the next stage of your life, which is retirement, you might feel more empowered and determined to do it. If you have a bit more time before retiring, it’s even more helpful to know which common mistakes people have made before you and learn from their experience so you don’t fall prey to the same regrets.
That being said, here’s a list of the most common regrets most retirees have, and find out how to avoid or reverse such mistakes to enjoy a well-deserved retirement.
Most common regrets in retirement
Not prioritizing health
When we are young, most of us think that we will be healthy forever. As time passes, we begin to realize that health should not be taken for granted and there are things we can do, better said, have to do, to be healthy for as long as possible.
Not prioritizing health is a regret most retirees admit to having. According to Bayu Prihandito, a certified life coach and the founder of Life Architekture, people “worked long hours, skipped meals or exercise, and now face health issues. To avoid this regret, it’s crucial to balance work and health throughout your career, not just in retirement.”
As explained by Lachlan Brown, founder of the website Hack Spirit, to make sure you don’t have any similar regrets, don’t disregard your health; go to regular checkups, try to eliminate the habits that you know might be detrimental to your health and start listening to your body more. Small steps can lead to huge results. And when it comes to health, it’s all worth it.
Not nurturing deeper relationships
While working, many people’s social circle consists of their co-workers. When retirement comes into the picture, they realize that they no longer have the same interests as their former co-workers and, thus not many friends outside the workplace.
This is another common regret many retirees have. “So many retirees say they wish they had spent more time with family and friends instead of getting caught up in the daily grind”, says Brown. It might be difficult to put social relationships on a priority list, especially when you’re younger and caught up in the whirlpool of building a career.
Unless you want to have the same regrets, make sure you prioritize family and friends, not only work. If you’re already in retirement, it’s never too late to rekindle your relationships, be it with old friends, children, grandchildren and so on.
Not prioritizing self-discovery
Many people in retirement find themselves lost, with no purpose, now that work is no longer on the table. Many of Prihandito’s clients, as the life coach explains, have not made self-discovery it a priority. But not knowing what your principles are, what you would like to do in the future, and what motivates you to go on, might make retirement even more difficult to cope with.
Prihandito explains that many retirees regret not having invested more time in defining their identities, likes and dislikes before retiring. As a general recommendation, it’s better to start exploring new interests and hobbies, making time to get to know yourself better, beyond your professional identity, before you retire.
Not having a purpose
Many people can’t wait for their working days to end so that they can enjoy retirement to its fullest. At least that’s what they hope, only to find themselves lacking a purpose in the absence of work. After leaving behind the 9 to 5 job, it’s important to have some things to focus on, so that you don’t feel completely worthless.
Looking forward to playing golf the whole day should not be seen as a retirement purpose. In the long run, it will stop being fun, leaving you with nothing meaningful to do.
Not making better financial plans
Many retirees have expressed their regrets over not putting health and happiness first; on the other hand, for others, the regrets come from not working and planning better for a worry-free retirement in terms of finances.
When faced with all the costs and financial needs in retirement, many wished they had prepared more for such times, by investing in more areas or asking for financial help from professionals in terms of methods to save money for their golden years.
Although it’s important to start planning and saving as early as possible, it’s also never too late to start doing it. Every year of saving matters, whether it’s five or ten years, the important thing is to have something to rely on when on a fixed income in retirement.
Speaking of finances, check out these 10 Worst States to Retire In if You Want to Save Money on Taxes.
Not talking about expectations with partners
Another common regret many retirees have is not discussing openly with their partners about life in retirement. Will you be enjoying your hobbies together? Will you spend more time with your grandchildren? Will you get a pet? These types of things need to be discussed so there are no unpleasant surprises.
“Spouses need to talk to each other about expectations regarding how much they’re willing and able to babysit grandchildren and how work around the house will change, too,” says Patti Black, a certified financial planner at Bridgeworth Wealth Management.
When reflecting on your past, there will be many moments that stick out from the “crowd” as the defining ones. If you’ve been too cautious and wary throughout your younger years, you might not get to experience what’s specific for that period of time.
“Many retirees wish they had taken more risks, both personally and professionally. They feel they played it too safe and missed out on potential life-changing opportunities”, says Prihandito. Getting out of your comfort zone can open the door to new opportunities and adventures that might shape your life in unimaginable ways.
Instead of regretting the places you did not visit, the trips you did not take, and the things you did not do, life coaches suggest making the most of every experience. Do not postpone anything on your to-do list only to feel regretful afterward.
Not practicing retirement life
As time passes and retirement gets closer and closer, it’s important to take some time to “practice” retirement. Many people find themselves with a lot of time on their hands and no strategy to fill it efficiently.
Some may have imagined themselves traveling the country in an RV only to discover it’s not their cup of tea. So, they regretted the purchase. Others might have planned to take a side job to add some more money to the family budget only to realize that they no longer have the necessary strength, physical or mental, to tackle the job they envisioned.
Whatever the plans, make sure you have an idea of what they actually mean in real life not just on paper, to avoid regretting your decisions in retirement.