I got advice from a client recently that, in my 14 years of helping people retire, I hadn’t heard before, so I want to share it with you. This client’s been retired for about seven years, and he told me he had a group meetup with his buddies – some of them retired and some of them not – but the topic of discussion was retirement, and they were asking him for advice on how he did it because (according to them) it seems like he’s got it all figured out. He’s a humble guy and he obviously knows no one’s got it all figured out, but he did have some really good ideas, so to share them with you.

The Three Essentials of Retirement

As we were at lunch, I was asking him, “Why do you think they thought that you had it all figured out?” And what makes his retirement experience seem so much better than everybody else’s, compared to people who are not having that same experience? Some of the discussion that we had was on those three essentials, but he also did something a few years before he retired that set him up for success.

Those three essentials are the three Cs. The first one being creativity; we’re creative beings. You got to be creative when you were working, but you also have to make sure that you can continue to create and be curious after work. Some of the happiest retirees that I know are the most curious and creative ones, too.

The second C is connection. Your closest friends might be the people you’ve been with between ages 25 and 55 during your working years, and it could be quite an adjustment all of a sudden when you’re not seeing them anymore. It takes effort to keep those friendships going, but you can also deepen relationships with family, with God, or maybe new grandchildren along the way.

C number three is contribution. When we’re not able to help others, there’s something missing in our lives. In some way, your work helped others, but you have to continue that after work ends. It could end up being a contribution to a cause or a charity, a person, or a group of people where you can use your knowledge, skills, or your money to help.

Those are the three Cs, but there’s something else that this client who has given this advice said that I didn’t think about before, and he brought it up in this discussion.

Advice from a Retiree

While we were talking about contribution, he mentioned that he’d started purposefully finding the time and using it for contribution well before he retired. He actively found ways to serve and help others with a small percentage of his working time. As retirement came, it was almost like a natural progression that that percentage of time grew a little bit, and it didn’t feel like a brand-new life he didn’t recognize. Sometimes retirement can feel like a complete transition, but he made it more of a steady transition into this retirement life that was filled with those three Cs of contribution, connection, and creativity.

The piece of advice that he had was to take time before you stop working to just explore these three Cs more, especially the contribution one. Don’t wait until you have free time in retirement and invest it now. Take quiet time to think about life in retirement before you get there. I have a video on prompts to help you think about retirement before you get there. Take some time in the morning, or whenever you have your best thinking time, and start exploring those three Cs. Whether you’re already retired or not just yet, it’s worth the investment.


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