Are You Ready to Retire?

Mark Petro |


  • Retirement planning involves two components: the financial component and the emotional component.
  • The ”nuts and bolts” of retirement planning are the key financial components
  • The emotional components of retirement planning are just as critical to your retirement success
  • Retirement planning involves far more than planning mere daily activities
  • Your successful retirement involves bridging both your mastery of wealth legacy planning and finding your renewed sense of self-discovery

How can we know for sure that we are ready to retire?

Retirement readiness is not an exact science, and it involves both financial and emotional components. And while the financial aspects of retirement readiness can be analyzed through the process of rigorous financial planning, as it most definitely should be analyzed, the emotional component is a much more complicated matter.

Over my many years of wealth advisory services I’ve assisted many clients with analyzing the financial components of retirement planning. There is a fairly common thread that can be woven through one retirement plan and another, for retiring clients with broadly differing lifestyles. That common thread is constructed mostly of the core components of a cash flow driven financial plan --- cash income flows such as Social Security, a pension, planned distributions from retirement accounts and annuities, dividends and such, and cash outflows, including ordinary living expenses, food and groceries, monthly bills, housing costs, debt payments, healthcare costs and other expenses.

Contingencies and other “nuts and bolts”

These “financial” components of retirement readiness can be thoughtfully analyzed and assessed to determine the likelihood that enough financial resources would be available to any given retirement candidate to meet their ongoing cash flow needs through, quite likely, up to three decades or more of rising living costs throughout retirement. Contingency planning for unforeseen future market-driven and aging related events must also be considered as part of this financial component. As such, the financial component is the “nuts and bolts” of core retirement planning.

But beyond these nuts and bolts there's the “emotional” component of retirement readiness --- Are you fearful to enter that “final frontier” of your life? Have you considered what you would like to accomplish with newfound freedom of time in your days? Have you thought through both the good and bad aspects of emotionally transitioning into retirement? Is this a time for loosing your self-worth and significance in this world or, perhaps, for gaining it once and for all?

What will retirement truly mean for you?

For many retirees-in-contemplation, their career will have become far more significant than just the daily grind. More so, their life’s work has comprised the greater part of their truest and deepest identity. Work has found in them the source of value and community that has driven forward their daily existence. Having felt the week-by-week rigors of being a valuable part of organizational success of a business or a vocation is what steers our souls through our career years. Coming to terms with walking away from this daily expression of our very unique organizational contributions is a serious endeavor, and sadly is one that often relents. And so, we may find ourselves staying on for a time longer in our vocation --- perhaps within our leadership role? --- even beyond what is healthy for our family, for our health, or for the deeper satisfaction of our own soul.

When you imagine your retirement, what do you see? Many of us fall into the over-simplified snare of imagining our retirement simply as a pursuit of activities. Do you see yourself traveling? Pursuing hobbies; golfing, gardening, painting or woodworking? Maybe you will pursue volunteering your time? There are many organizations, such as schools, hospitals, and non-profits that would greatly value your help and the valuable insights you have to offer. Maybe you’ll take the opportunity to go back to school, or even start a new business endeavor? It's important that you've given your pursuit of activities some consideration, and have a plan. If you haven’t given any serious thought to how your daily activities will soon be changing, you're probably not ready to retire.

Retirement invokes a maturity far beyond mere money

But retirement offers so much more, and on a far deeper level. Roles and relationships in retirement will change for you. You may find more time on hand to support those who matter most to you --- your family. If you are married, imagine having more time together sharing daily responsibilities with your significant other, like cooking meals, doing the laundry or even grocery shopping. Nothing could be more significant to your longing to fulfill the central purpose of your life than the freeing of precious time that retirement can give to you. More free time on your hands may permit you to come alongside your grandchildren in pursuit of their school activities and extracurricular pursuits. Retirement can be a tremendously fulfilling time in your life to strengthen or rekindle your relationships with all who ought to hold lasting value to your livelihood --- aging parents who long for your attention, sisters and brothers whom time never found enough favor towards during your working years, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, your church family, and even your neighbors. Retirement can become your lasting gift of resounding legacy to everyone who has held you near and dear to them.

When you can foresee your retirement as a rich blessing beyond the mere “nuts and bolts” of money, finances, cash flows and wealth accumulation, then you are well on your way towards a complete and fulfilling retirement --- towards fruitfully pursuing a new direction for your life, rich with meaning and purpose towards your greater existence.

Doing the necessary work of retirement planning along side your financial advisor will provide much of the information needed for you to more clearly understand the mechanism of your retirement finances and the successful pursuit your multi-generational wealth goals. Your lasting wealth legacy will be built upon the bricks and mortar of exemplary wealth planning. And this work is highly critical to the future financial well-being of your loved ones. But your truest and most precious legacy will be the one you build with your newfound freedom of time and expression, and how you pursue the deeper aspects of a well-thought and well-lived retirement. 


Mark W. Petro is a financial advisor and President of Lakeland Investor Services, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor in Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania.

Important Disclosure: The information contained in this article are the views, opinions, and/or strategy considerations of Mark W. Petro and Lakeland Investor Services, Inc. (LIS) and are presented for educational purposes only and should not be construed as specific investment, legal, tax, or accounting advice. For advice specific to your own circumstances, you should consult with a financial/tax advisor. Certain information contained in this article may be derived from third party sources and is deemed to be reliable, but its accuracy and completeness has not been verified and cannot be guaranteed. If links to third-party sources are present within this article, you hereby acknowledge that they are made available solely as references for your convenience and do not imply any affiliations, endorsements, or representations whatsoever by LIS and/or its advisor regarding third-party content. LIS is not responsible in any way for any content, availability, or privacy policies of any linked third-party sites, and shall not be responsible or liable for any information, opinions, advice, products, services or electronic intrusiveness presented on or through them.