Retirement Regrets at the End of Your Life

By Chris Duderstadt

September 6, 2023

Retirement Regrets at the End of Your Life

Key Points – Retirement Regrets at the End of Your Life

  • Figuring Out Your Purpose in Retirement 
  • It’s Your Life and Your Retirement 
  • The Fine Line of Working Hard and Working Too Hard 
  • The Importance of Being Happy 
  • 5 Minutes to Read | 14 Minutes to Watch

What Might You Regret at the End of Retirement?

Today on the Modern Wealth Management Educational Series, we’re going to take a detour from discussing the typical retirement planning topics, such as Roth IRAs, Medicare, tax planning, and Social Security. Instead, Chris Rett will talk about some things that aren’t always thought of when it comes to retirement planning. Those are your regrets at the end of retirement. 

 What’s Your Purpose in Retirement? 

One thing that isn’t talked about nearly enough in our industry is the importance of finding your purpose in retirement. You should put just as much planning into what you want to get out of retirement as you do with all the financial aspects of retirement. To illustrate this, we’re going to review a popular book from a hospice nurse from Australia. It’s The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing by Bronnie Ware.  

 Bronnie’s book started out as a blog, Regrets of the Dying, that cataloged the regrets of the dying patients that she worked with. The book went on to become an Amazon best seller. While we aren’t affiliated with Bronnie, we highly recommend checking out the book.  

The Top Five Regrets at the End of Retirement 

Let’s review the top five regrets from Bronnie’s book. Make sure to spend some time going over some of these so that you don’t have the same regrets at the end of retirement. They’re very relevant, whether you’re retired or still working.

1. Not Living the Life That You Wanted to Live

We all find ourselves from time to time trying to satisfy a spouse, child, boss, or neighbor. And it may have happened so frequently that it subconsciously becomes part of who we are. It can be hard not to fall into the trap of living someone else’s life.  

So, take an inventory and focus on the things that you want to define your life. That can be a big help with avoiding this first retirement regret. What do you want out of retirement? It’s time to define your retirement lifestyle, whether you’re retired or still working. That’s not a typo. A big part of planning for retirement is planning what you want your retirement to look like.  

If you find yourself not living the life that you want to live, change it before it’s too late. We don’t want this big retirement regret to happen to you. Maybe you’ve always wanted to take a golf lesson to get better at golf or volunteer at your church. Well, why keep waiting to do those things? If not now, then when? 

It can be a little frightening at first, especially if this is new. But we want to encourage you to have the courage to start living your life for YOU. Now is the time to start being intentional about what it is YOU want for your retirement. Everyone is going to be unique, but you are the best person to answer that for you.  

2. Wishing You Hadn’t Worked So Hard

Don’t get us wrong here. Hard work is necessary with planning for a successful retirement. That’s how you get to the point to be financially independent and remaining as such throughout retirement. Bronnie was talking about working too hard. Working too hard for too long can really wear on you.  

Hard work sets you up for living a purpose-driven retirement, so there’s a fine line with how hard to work. This is where a good CFP® Professional can come in and say if you’re on the right track or need to work a little longer. But that doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice time with family and friends, traveling, and doing the things you want to do.  

It is important that once you’ve figured out what you want your retirement to look like that you have your financials in order to fulfill your goals. Make sure you’re not confusing the situation and giving up the safety net that comes in the form of financial planning. By starting the retirement planning process 10-15 years before you’re thinking about retirement, you can relay zone in on the right time to retire. That way you can reduce the likelihood of having the retirement regret of working too hard. 

3. Having the Courage to Express Your Feelings More

Guys, we’re looking at you. As a CFP® Professional, Chris sees this retirement regret a lot more with men than women. Men can tend to be more prideful and pretend that they’re OK even if they’re not. But this retirement regret can still apply to everyone. Find a group to talk to or reach out and get professional help.  

It’s exhausting to hold those feelings in. Whether it’s people pleasing or trying to present a tough exterior. There isn’t a how-to book to deal with this type of stuff. No one should be judging you for not having the courage to express your feelings more because everyone can have that problem. Those feelings can range from love to anger. No matter what those feelings are, feel free to let them out so they don’t become a regret at the end of retirement.

4. Wishing You Had Stayed in Touch with Your Friends

We all have friends that we haven’t stayed in touch with for one reason or another—whether there’s been a falling out or life getting too busy. We encourage you to reach out and talk to your friends to let them know that you’re thinking of them. Maybe you can meet up with them or take a vacation to go see them if they live far away. It’s so important to have an in-person connection, if possible.  

If you’re more introverted, this might not be a regret for you at the end of retirement. That’s OK, too. But just about everyone has at least one or two good friends that they fall out of touch with over time. We don’t want you to have the regret of not reconnecting or trying to make amends with someone at the end of retirement.  

Harboring resentment has been likened to drinking poison and expecting it to affect the other person. The misconception around forgiveness is that it is for the other person. In actuality, it is really about finding peace within yourself around a situation or another person. If that’s something you’re experiencing, reach out to that friend. You don’t necessarily need to reconnect with them. Just simply reach out to them and share that the time you had spent together was very meaningful so that they know that. Having peace in your life feels so much better than having regrets at the end of retirement. 

5. Wishing I Let Myself Be Happier

This can speak to everyone as well. It can be a slippery slope with always stressing out about the unknown. There are so many variables we try to account for—even more than we can comprehend. We see this all the time when it comes to financial planning. Do I have enough? Well, what is enough? Simply put, enough is planning the life that you want!  

Life is hard. We all experience transgressions and traumas throughout our lives. It’s important to let yourself be happy despite all that. If you’ve reached financial independence, you can alleviate some of those stressful things in your life that you’ve always worried about. You can hire professional help for your emotions just like you hire professional help for your financial planning. Life is full of uncontrollable variables, so it’s critical to let yourself be happy in the end. 

Why Are We Sharing These Retirement Regrets? 

This obviously wasn’t our typical educational series event, but what Chris and Bronnie had to share is still educational and very important. We talk a lot about the financial side of retirement planning, but it’s critical to talk about the human element of it, too. Whether it’s financial or personal, we’re trying to educate you so that you’re aware of a change(s) that you might need to make.  

If you are retired or near retirement, there is still time. Time is our most precious asset. We don’t want you to live with these retirement regrets or any other retirement regrets any longer than you already have. If you have questions about how to better live and enjoy your retirement, let us know. You can try to address those during a 20-minute ask anything session or complimentary consultation with one of our CFP® Professionals.

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We want to make sure that you have a plan in place that doesn’t leave you with regrets at the end of retirement. Thanks again for tuning into the Modern Wealth Management Educational Series.

Investment advisory services offered through Modern Wealth Management, LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Adviser.

The views expressed represent the opinion of Modern Wealth Management, LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Adviser. Information provided is for illustrative purposes only and does not constitute investment, tax, or legal advice. Modern Wealth Management, LLC does not accept any liability for the use of the information discussed. Consult with a qualified financial, legal, or tax professional prior to taking any action.