Big Picture, Financial Planning, Millennials

What We Can Learn About Retirement From Athletes

They say an athlete dies twice: once when they retire, and once when they pass away.

What they mean by this quote is that athletes, who have dedicated their lives to their sport, face a difficult transition when they retire. From a young age, their focus everyday has been on training, competing, and striving for the next level. Then suddenly, all of that comes to an end, and they must create a new life and find a new identity. It’s a challenging adjustment that leads many to struggle with anxiety and depression. According to an International Olympic Committee report, 45% of former athletes experience these mental health issues.

But… it’s not just athletes who face this struggle. Many people, particularly those who derive a sense of purpose and identity from their work, experience depression after retirement. Nearly one-third of retirees in the United States develop symptoms of depression, according to research.

If you’re like many of my clients, who are in their 30s and 40s and planning to retire early, these statistics should serve as a wake-up call. Planning for retirement is not just about the financials; it’s also about figuring out what you’re retiring to.Here are some valuable questions to ask yourself as you plan for retirement:

  • What do you want to do?
  • What will your life look like after you retire?
  • What activities and interests will give you purpose and fulfillment?

It’s easy to get caught up in the dream of not having to work and spending all your time traveling or playing golf. But eventually, those things will lose their appeal, and you’ll need something more.

So as you plan for retirement, make sure you’re also planning for the life stuff. Answer those questions about what retirement will be like for you, specifically, so you know what you’re retiring to, not just what you’re retiring from.