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  • Writer's pictureJason LaBarge

6 Fs of Retirement Planning

Have you ever experienced flatspotting? It’s when you have left a car parked too long and a temporary condition called “flatspotting” occurs. It causes you to feel a ride disturbance or shimmy the first few miles you drive the car, until the tire warms up and smooths back out.

Some people report a kind of flatspotting as they transition into retirement; there are areas of their life that feel a bit bumpy, because they neglected to plan for all areas of their retirement life. I’d like to help you have a smooth transition into retirement without any disturbances! Many people only think about the financial aspect of retirement, but it’s best if you consider all areas of your life. I like to call them the 6 F’s of Retirement Planning.

If you properly plan for all six areas of life, it can help smooth out your transition, so your tires will speed into retirement without any issues. The six areas are Faith, Family, Fitness, Finances, Fun, and Finality. I’m going to give you an overview, and while I do, grade yourself on a scale from 1-10 and see how you’re doing!

6 Fs of Retirement Planning

____ 1. Faith – This is faith in your future, in a better tomorrow. It can also mean faith in a Higher Power. Do you have faith that you will be able to retire and enjoy it? Do you have faith in your retirement plan that you are looking forward to retirement?

____ 2. Family & Friends – Psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, the director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development, one of the longest and most complete studies of adult life ever conducted, has discovered the secret to happiness! This study has followed over 700 men for 75 years to find out what makes someone happy. There were two cohorts of men, one cohort was made up of Harvard sophomores, and the other were 12- to 16-year-old boys who grew up in inner-city Boston. The overwhelming results from gathering data for over 75 years, is that good relationships keep us happier and healthier. How are your family relationship and friendships? Is there a relationship that could use some extra attention?

____ 3. Fitness – They say that your first wealth is your health. Life is so much more enjoyable if you have the choice of doing what you love. Are you taking care of yourself? Are you getting regular physicals? Think of one form of exercise you enjoy; do you schedule it onto your calendar on a regular basis?

____ 4. Finances – Of course finances are one of the essential aspects of preparing for retirement! Are your finances in order? Are you doing all you can to educate yourself on how to properly prepare? Unfortunately, I have seen some people do a little reading on the topic of financial planning and think they are an expert in the topic, but for something as nuanced and personable as your individual retirement plan, you really should seek out professional advice. For example, if you read an article about when to start taking your Social Security benefits, you will be reading advice written for the masses. It doesn’t factor your own health or family history or situation into the decision.

____ 5. Fun – When as the last time you met a stranger? I bet right after the obligatory “nice to meet you” comment, came the most commonly asked question when meeting someone, “What do you do?” How did you answer? Most people answer by listing their profession, but how do you answer once you’re retired and no longer work? Now is the time to rediscover what makes you you. Now is the time to remember everything that brings you joy and start putting those things back on your calendar, so you don’t struggle with knowing your identity and finding yourself in retirement.

____ 6. Finality – Ben Franklin is credited with saying, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” The financial aspect of your retirement plan can help with the taxes part, but only you can deal more intimately with the death part. Not only is estate planning and long term care planning highly recommended, but it is good for you to think about how you want to be remembered. Psychologist Abraham Maslow’s last stage in his hierarchy of needs model is Self-Actualization. This is realizing your personal potential and seeking personal growth through peak experiences. This is satisfying your desire “to become everything one is capable of becoming”. How do you want to give back? How do you want to be remembered?

The important part of this is determining where you rate with the 6 Fs. Did you rate where you are in your life on a scale from 1 – 10? If so, draw a circle with each “F” making up that circle. If you are a 10 in all areas then you are a perfect circle and will move through life with ease. If you are like most of us there are areas that you want to work on, that you want to improve upon. The first step is identifying where you are and then putting the things in place to improve. To help you through this process this is the first article of a series where I will go into each category in more depth in to help you better understand how to do this.

*This article originally appeared in the June 2018 Severna Voice and Pasadena Voice newspapers.

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