A few months ago I accidentally stumbled on the trailer for The Do-Over, a “2016 dunderhead comedy” (ala Rotten Tomatoes) starring David Spade and Adam Sandler who fake their deaths in order to start their lives anew. While I didn’t watch the movie, the trailer got me wondering about what retirees would do differently if they had another chance to retire, knowing what they know now.
Ever since, I’ve been asking people who have retired, recently or decades ago, what they would “do over” if given the chance. Here are the most common answers I received:
- Started saving earlier—and saved more!
- Waited (or not waited) to claim Social Security.
- Retired earlier, later or not at all.
- Traveled more while still healthy (and before COVID).
- Spent more time with my kids while they were still young and with my parents while they were still alive.
- Taken better care of my health.
- Done more research before relocating across the country (or halfway around the world).
Obviously, we can’t travel back in time for a retirement do-over. But regardless of our age and whether we’re newly retired or have been for decades, we don’t have to accept the status quo or dwell on past mistakes because it’s never too late for a fresh restart.
She advises taking these six steps to launch your do-over:
Step 1: Accept that what’s done is done. “You can’t turn back the hands of time, but you can stop living in the land of ‘if onlys’ and ‘woulda coulda shouldas,’” says Belmont. “The key is to look for lessons you’ve learned and take comfort in the fact that these lessons make you wiser.”
Step 2: Get back in touch with your dreams. If you’re like many people in or near retirement you may have lost track of your hopes and dreams. If so, Belmont advises asking yourself the following questions:
- What do I enjoy doing? Why?
- What don’t I enjoy? Why?
- What gives meaning and purpose to my life?
- What are my talents and skills? How might I improve them?
- What do I daydream about?
- What do I like to read and watch movies about?
Step 3: Set SMART do-over goals. Whether big or small, near-term or decades into the future, make your do-over goals SMART: specific, measurable, active, reachable and timed. You may also find it helpful to divide your goals into categories. Here are some Bellmont recommends: personal, family, financial, community, physical and, for those who want to continue to work, career.
Step 4: Develop an action plan. Going for your do-over goals without first breaking them down into bite-size pieces is like trying to eat an apple all in one bite. Instead, brainstorm the small steps you need to take, put them in logical order and then assign a deadline to each.
Step 5: Seek support. One great way to get support for your retirement do-overs is by finding a goal buddy, a person who understands and cares about you and your goals and offers you the tools and support you need to succeed.
Step 6: Celebrate your do-over successes. Your celebrations should be in proportion to the size of your do-over goals and meaningful to you. You may choose to keep them private or to share, either with close family and friends or more publicly via social media. “Either way, do what makes you feel proud,” advises Belmont.
A fan of do-overs, Bev Bachel is a Minneapolis freelance writer and the author of What Do You Really Want: How to Set a Goal and Go for It!
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