Planning for Your Retirement: A Checklist

A tool to help you enjoy a good retirement

Posted Jan 06, 2016

Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain
Source: Pixabay, CC0 Public Domain

It's scary to think about retirement. It's usually like the Roach Motel: You can check in but you can't check out.

The following may help you decide whether to retire and what you'll want to do in retirement. 

Should you retire?

See how many of the below items you agree with.

  • I've analyzed my finances, perhaps with an accountant, and am confident I can afford to retire.
  • I feel my job would be in better hands if someone else did it, perhaps with my helping my successor transition.
  • I feel I should completely retire rather than with a glide path, in which I gradually reduce my work responsibilities.
  • If I'll be spending more time with my romantic partner after retiring, that will be good for both of us.
  • Reviewing the list of retirement activities below makes me feel good about retiring.

What you'll do in retirement

Here are things that many people do in retirement:

  • Volunteering: For example, join a nonprofit board or get active in a religious institution.
  • Visual art: Even if you're no Rembrandt, perhaps you'd find it fun to do  photography, perhaps around a theme you care about, such as nature, poverty, psychologically rich faces, etc.
  • Theater: Community theaters are always looking for volunteers to participate by acting (Okay, maybe not starring for a while but in minor roles or the ensemble,) building sets, making costumes, finding props, helping with marketing and ticket sales, ushering, running the lights and sound, which are easier than you might think.
  • Performing: Want to reveal your inner ham? How about singing, perhaps starting at home in the shower then graduating to performing for friends, then on open-mike night, or joining a choir, religious or not. Or take up magic, juggling or both. Think you're funny? Try writing and delivering a two-minute stand-up routine.
  • Writing:  Want to write a book of poems? How about a blog? A blog enhanced with video you took on your phone? Or maybe you want to think big: a book, perhaps your memoir, your message to the next generation, or the Great American Novel.
  • Video: A YouTube video is only a video camera and free editing software away. Want to create something instructional, like how to teach a child to estimate? Something related to activism like a minute on why the minimum wage should be raised or not? Something artistic, for example, a video collage of your neighborhood?
  • A simple business: Might you like to sell collectables on eBay? Work part-time in a laid-back cafe? Grow veggies in your backyard and you or a kid sell them on the street corner?
  • Gardening: Even if you don't want to sell what you grow, it's rewarding to plant and see the miracle of growth, beauty, and harvest. It's good exercise too.
  • Caretaking: Do you know an older person who'd love more companionship or errand-doing? Want to do some babysitting for family or neighbors?
  • Mentoring: Retired business people can volunteer at SCORE to mentor aspiring entrepreneurs. Or mentor a young person at a local high school or college or through Big Brothers or Sisters.
  • Exercise: Care to do more hiking, locally and not? Play golf or tennis? Hit the gym for exercise and perhaps flirting?
  • Travel: Consider travel with a purpose, volunteerism, writing an article or blog on something you learned that might benefit readers or society.
  • Reading: Have your New Yorkers piled up? Your Psychology Todays? Does your car wear a bumper sticker that reads "So many books, so little time?" Now you'll have more time.
  • Other learning: Finally, you can take courses purely based on what's of personal interest. And you can do it online or in-person. And many universities have programs specifically for older people.
  • Psychology/Spirituality: Do you want to do more to explore life and yes, your mortality? Through reading? A discussion group? Organized religion? Independent search for meaning?

The takeaway

In light of the above, is there a step or two you want to take now?

Dr. Nemko's nine books are available. You can reach career and personal coach Marty Nemko at