Bruce Poster


In last month’s column I described what I mean by the “New Retirement.” This is a transition into a new stage of life in which one can find self-renewal. Many people are not seeking the old form of retirement, in which they are put out to pasture and on a kind of permanent vacation. Rather, the New Retiree has an opportunity to design his own retirement in a manner that fosters life-enrichment, self-ownership, physical wellness, self-esteem and positive involvement.

Your Life Purpose

I have met many recent retirees who lack a sense of purpose. Some stay busy for six months or a year, taking that special vacation they have long desired or going through their list of “honey-do” home repairs. But eventually, retirees will have to face the fact that they may live for another three or four decades and won’t be satisfied with a regimen consisting only of television, golf, bridge and travel.

The key to a successful retirement is having a clear life purpose for oneself. This may manifest as a new way of expressing a previously defined life purpose (e.g. educating children) or it may appear as an entirely new life purpose. I view retirement as an opportunity to do those things one has always wanted to do but never gotten around to, whether that is:

  • Running your own business
  • Traveling to exotic locales
  • Moving to a new community
  • Learning a language
  • Taking up a musical instrument
  • Spending time with your grandchildren
  • Doing volunteer work

As someone who has recently “retired,” from the business I owned (but is still working part-time), I now have the opportunity to volunteer in the community, where I am working with United Way of Santa Fe County to create a district-wide parent involvement committee for the Santa Fe Public Schools. I also have more time now to exercise, meditate and travel. And I am taking a class in improvisation, which is giving me an opportunity to take risks, be more spontaneous and work as part of a team.

I encourage anyone approaching retirement to develop a personal mission statement for yourself. This will enable you to prioritize the demands upon you, utilize your gifts and skills, and stay focused on what is important in the long run. This mission statement will have three main elements:

  1. A statement of who you are
  2. A statement of what you’d like to do
  3. A statement of where you are going


For example, my personal mission statement could be:

I am an active member of the Santa Fe community who uses my facilitation skills to help parents be more effective in supporting their children’s success.”

Once you get something down on paper, read it out loud to see whether you resonate with it. Tell a few friends what your mission is and see whether it “feels” right to you as you share it.

Your Retirement Plan

This mission statement will serve as the launching point for your retirement plan. The retirement plan is your roadmap to where you are going in retirement. Ideally, you should create your plan several years before you expect to retire. The plan will help you make the transition from your current lifestyle to your retirement lifestyle.

Many people think that a “retirement plan” is the same as a “financial plan.” While a financial plan is critical to a successful retirement (and will affect when and how you can retire), it is only one element of your retirement plan. Your plan should also address other life arenas that I will discuss in future columns. These include:

  • Work reorientation and replacement of work functions
  • Health
  • Leisure interests and travel
  • Dependents and relationships

Your retirement plan will address specific actions that you will take prior to and during your retirement. For example, if you intend to start a small business, you might need to take a computer or bookkeeping class first. Or, if you intend to travel in Latin America, you may wish to take a Spanish class.

Retirement Planning For Couples

Retirement can bring about many changes for a couple. I like the quote that, “I married you for better or worse, but not for lunch.” Men (and women) who had busy careers may suddenly be hanging around the house during the day in what had been the personal space of their partner.

Thus, the need for retirement planning is even more critical for couples than for singles, as couples need to accommodate the potentially disparate needs of both parties. It is a sad fact that many couples are not good at communicating with one another. Each partner may make assumptions about retirement without discussing them. For example, I worked with a couple where the man assumed that they were going to travel abroad extensively and purchase a retirement home in a warm climate, while the woman assumed they were going to spend a lot of time at home with their grandchildren.

Can the potentially conflicting needs of a couple be reconciled? Yes, but only if they communicate their needs and find ways to accommodate one another. Creating a retirement plan for the couple is a great way to do this. Such a plan will incorporate the life purposes and needs of each partner in a win-win plan that allows them each to retire their way. Thus, whether you are single or part of a couple, a retirement plan will be essential to your future success.


Bruce Poster is a Certified Retirement Coach who has lived in Santa Fe for 34 years and previously owned Southwest Planning & Marketing. He can be reached at 505.690.8921 or; or you can visit his website:


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