Retiring well: a 3-step guide

These days, we’re running in many directions because of our busy lives. Pause a moment and ask yourself, how often do I find time to dream about and plan for my retirement?

If your answer is “not that often,” you’re not alone. And, yet, many of us have significant anxiety as retirement nears. This is where the idea of “Retiring Well” comes in. What is Retiring Well about? Well, as Julie Andrews sang in The Sound of Music, “Let’s start at the very beginning.”

Retiring Well is both planning for—and living—your fullest life in retirement. We believe there are 3 key steps.

1. Finding Meaning

The traditional view of retirement is outdated. According to the MIT AgeLab, most of us will live one-third of our adult lives in retirement.1 That’s right—we’re living longer, starting second careers, and exploring new opportunities.

When clients are asked what, if anything, they’d do differently, many say, “I would’ve planned earlier.” You see, a quick pivot to retirement can feel jarring, like hitting the brakes at 60 mph. The good news is that it’s never too soon or too late. So, start now!

Spend time affirming what matters most to you. Ask yourself, what gets you up in the morning and what keeps you up at night? Your answers help shed light on your hopes and dreams as well as your realities and responsibilities. Many clients realized only in retirement that they had underestimated the importance of feeling connected to family and caring for their parents.

Reassess your professional identity. Recognize that your professional identity may be a defining part of your DNA. Ask yourself, “what aspects of my identity do I want to keep, and what parts of work can I do without?” Engaging in part-time or volunteer work in retirement may be the answer.

Find a retirement mentor. Look for someone you look up to who has been there, done that—from navigating the “administrivia” of Medicare and bills to deciding to relocate to warmer climes or age in place.

Be mindful of health. We often see that sudden health issues can throw a monkey wrench into retirement planning. You’ve heard it before: “health is wealth” and “motion is the lotion.”

2. Planning for Money

Put simply, dream it and have the underpinning of a financial plan to make it work:

  • Understand how much money you’ll need to continue your lifestyle.
  • Invest your portfolio to account for longevity and the need for growth.
  • Develop a withdrawal strategy, so you know where the money is coming from once the paycheck stops.
  • Determine when to elect Social Security benefits and when to tap your 401(k) or IRA.
  • Be mindful of taxes—for most, the sweet spot to plan and exponentially save taxes is from retirement until age 72.
  • Protect your hard-earned wealth with proper health insurance coverage and an umbrella policy.
  • Finalize an estate plan that reflects your wealth and legacy goals.

3. Making Adjustments Along the Way

Think about the course corrections you’ve made throughout your life that got you this far. It doesn’t stop now.

Trust in yourself and, as Socrates said, “Know yourself.” Keep making adjustments. And please, also remember to be kind to yourself. Set goals and know that stringing together small victories has a powerful compounding effect, rather than focusing on overwhelming goals.

Your transition to a full life in retirement is waiting! To keep it moving, reach out to your CI Private Wealth Advisor.


BDF LLC is a private wealth management firm. We provide personalized investment management and financial planning. We manage approximately $5.9 billion in assets for business owners, women, individuals and families, and institutions.

We also have Practice Groups that specialize in the unique needs of:

  • Attorneys
  • Divorce
  • Executives
  • Financial Professionals
  • Insurance Brokers and Agency Owners
  • Widows


This information is for educational purposes and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax, insurance, or investment advice. This does not constitute an offer to provide any services, nor a solicitation to purchase securities. The contents are not intended to be advice tailored to any particular person or situation. We believe the information provided is accurate and reliable, but do not warrant it as to completeness or accuracy. This information may include opinions or forecasts, including investment strategies and economic and market conditions; however, there is no guarantee that such opinions or forecasts will prove to be correct, and they also may change without notice. We encourage you to speak with a qualified professional regarding your scenario and the then-current applicable laws and rules.

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