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Thriving in Retirement: Personal Perspectives with a Side of Bacon

How do you feel about the word RETIRE? I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with it myself.

For some, it’s the ultimate dream to be free of work. Many others view it more like one client of ours, who described it so bluntly as “one step closer to getting the Old Yeller treatment.” Even old Webster went morose in his definitions, talking about withdrawing from active life or removing oneself. It’s hard to find a definition that doesn’t evoke feelings of disengagement or a finale, right? Fortunately, our experience of working closely with retired clients every day tells us otherwise.

Here’s the perfect example. A couple of weeks ago, we gathered a group of about 20 clients to join us for our inaugural BridgeQuest 502 Breakfast (just bring 5 dollars and your 2 cents) and discuss what retirement really means. Is it riding off into the sunset as the credits roll? Or is it an exciting transition to something new? We called our gathering “Beyond the Financial: Keys to Thriving in Retirement.”  

Along with eggs and coffee, our clients/friends shared words of wisdom, personal stories from their lives and unique retirement transitions. They told of how losing parents or a spouse changed plans in an instant. Or, conversely, how taking care of an aging parent can affect your own retirement.

Now What?

A few themes kept bubbling up. One of them was time. How do you spend your time in retirement? Answers ebbed from the practical to the philosophical. Some crave a routine to feel organized and on task (“I spent 40 years getting up at 4:30 am every day and going to work, so I need structure…”), while others relish the freedom that comes with leaving their workplace time constraints behind. As one person said, “Getting up in the morning and piddling around in the garden or the garage is the best thing in the world!” This was followed by rousing approval from half of the group, which got some curious looks from our fellow diners.

In short, there was no consensus on the perfect way to structure retirement time. Some admitted struggling the first few months to find a routine (or lack thereof) that fit their personality. The sentiment we’ve heard from many clients through the years is simply: Give yourself grace. You don’t have to have it all figured out. It’s a work in progress.

Finding Your Purpose

We soon came around to the more serious theme of purpose—not just how you spend your days, but why and the pursuit of fulfillment. One retiree talked of staying active in nursing, her profession for 48 years. She now works occasional two-hour shifts so other nurses can take breaks—a welcome treat during a long work day. As she said, “I’m making people happy every time I show up.”

Most of our clients express a desire to volunteer more when they retire. And yes, opportunities abound. One gentleman found that volunteering at his local golf course fulfilled his competitive spirit and gave him a strong sense of community—not to mention stronger calves.  

There were conversations about trying new things and new experiences, but also warnings about overcommitting. A philanthropic-minded person can easily say “yes” a few too many times and quickly become busier than ever, having no time or energy left for anything else.

Take That, Webster

Thinking back to our first group breakfast, I’m so encouraged to hear stories of clients thriving in retirement. We’re truly fortunate at BridgeQuest Wealth Strategies to be a part of that. I want to extend a big thanks to everyone who attended and shared their experiences and wisdom—who showed the sunny side of retirement. We heard probably the best definition I’ve ever heard: “Retirement is being able to spend time doing the things we love with the people we love.” Maybe Webster should add that one.

From Around the Table…

“I had a plan for my retirement, but then my parents passed away and my plans changed.”

“I found my “Cheers” bar…volunteering at the golf course. I walk in and everybody knows my name.”

“Keep moving or you’ll freeze up.”


Matt Gazaway, CFP

Matt is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional and Co-Founder of BridgeQuest Wealth Strategies. His primary focus is strategic investment planning for individuals and families nearing a transition point in their lives.   He thrives on connecting, strategizing, and formulating a customized solution for each client.