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When Tomorrow Becomes Today
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Letter
from the Editor

By Atlantic Re:think

The definition of retirement is changing rapidly—and at a time when the world faces unprecedented challenges. We’re taking a look at what preparing for retirement, financially and emotionally, means today.

For decades, preparing for retirement has revolved around a single question: What’s your number? Or, in other words, it’s been all about financial planning. Saving and investing. IRAs and 401(k)s. Figuring out how much money you’ll need to live comfortably, and ensuring you’ve reached that magic number when it’s time to start your next act.

But retirement isn’t just about math. It’s an entirely new stage of life, less of a next chapter than a book of blank pages waiting to be filled. It’s thrilling and liberating—and, possibly, just a bit frightening.

That’s never been truer than it is today. Our individual and cultural understandings of retirement are changing. We’re living longer, healthier lives, extending our golden years into decades. The quintessential model of golf courses, bucket lists, and seeing more of the grandkids still persists for many but now exists alongside an increasing array of new options for who we can be and what our lives can look like.

In retirement, we’re starting businesses and careers. Making new friends and joining different social circles. Finding other ways to get involved, give back, get fit, pursue our passions, and explore our interests. We’re creating missions for ourselves and making a mark on the world around us.

And if all of that weren’t enough, we’re now also dealing with the social and economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic and the stress and uncertainty this global health crisis brings.

Yet, as sociologist Phyllis Moen says, most people spend more time “planning a wedding than planning retirement.”

Managing your money with the future in mind will always be important—lifelong financial planning is what enables people to have options and make choices in retirement. But to make the most of those choices and be your happiest, healthiest self, mental and emotional preparation is just as essential.

One day, you’re waking up to the sound of an alarm clock to catch a train or hop in your car to go to work, just like always. The next day, the buzzing and beeping has stopped. It sounds like a simple, joyous shift—Hallelujah! My days now belong to me!—but in reality, it’s a larger and more profound change than most of us expect.

Retirement forces us to contemplate some deep, difficult questions: Who am I without my job or profession? What’s my purpose in life? What do I want to spend my time on? Retirement also pushes us away from our established social networks, into acute awareness of our health and wellness, and completely out of our comfort zones. I finally have time to take care of myself, but how do I do it? Who do I socialize with if not my work friends? What will I do at home … all day, every day?

You shouldn’t wait to psychologically prepare for retirement until you’re already in it. Even—especially—in these uncertain times, you should start right now. But take heart: It’s not something you have to do on your own. In this series, you’ll get first-person insight into the potentially transformative journey of retirement from a grounded combat and medical rescue pilot who reinvented himself as a writer; an education administrator who struggled with her sense of self and purpose after years of being in charge; and high school sweethearts who rediscovered love after 40 years apart. You’ll get honest answers to real readers’ questions about the ups and downs of life after work, coming from a retirement coach and a researcher who themselves have ridden the retirement roller coaster and a financial professional who has helped clients plan for and experience the ride. You’ll witness the rejuvenating power of social connection and see how retirees are finding community and togetherness in the face of an isolating pandemic. Along the way, you’ll learn how your purpose, lifestyle, health, and wealth tie together—and see that achieving a full and fulfilling retirement goes far beyond simple math.

IN RESPONSE:

Equitable president Nick Lane on how holistic life planning is central to the company’s vision of a successful retirement.

READ THE LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Back to School

By Dr. Anne Primavera

Following a 27-year career in education, a teacher-turned-administrator was financially ready to retire—but had to learn how to make the emotional and psychological adjustment to life after work.

I was the first in my family to go to college.

My parents were very encouraging, and they wanted me to have it all.

After graduating, I married and began my 27-year career in education as a high school teacher near my hometown. I was excited. I had worked hard to get my degree in English. I expected to be in that job for a while.

But halfway through my first year teaching, I became pregnant.

Anne entering the principal’s office

The principal found out. He called me into his office and said, “I understand you are expecting.” I said, “Yes, I am.” He said, “We are expecting too.” “What’s that?” I said. He said, “Your letter of resignation, on my desk by Friday.”

That was a personal shock. And a financial shock. My husband was close to finishing his doctorate, and my salary was important to us.

My expectation was that I would have our baby and then decide whether I would keep working or step down. But the school made the decision for me.

Back then, if you were a woman and pregnant, you were not allowed to be a teacher. You couldn’t stand in front of a classroom of kids! That’s just the way it was.

Anne as a stay-at-home mom with her two boys. Feelings of being stuck at home

We decided to start our family. My two boys were born 13 months apart, and I became a stay-at-home mother for four years.

I loved my kids. But I still wanted to teach, to use the skills I had learned in school and to feel like I was contributing financially to my family. I found that satisfying.

Besides, I’m not the kind of person who falls down easily. I can be pretty stubborn. I’m a fighter.

Anne at the front of a classroom, writing on chalkboard

Over the next decade, I taught high school English, became the chair of my department, worked as an assistant principal in a middle school, and earned my doctorate in administration—still working by day, studying at night and on the weekends, and continuing to be a hardworking supermom who never missed a holiday at my house.

I ended up managing the K-12 curriculum for a full school district, overseeing roughly 13,000 students and teachers in two dozen buildings.

Being in charge, I discovered, suited me. I was an only child who had been raised to make decisions on my own. I believe that there’s almost always a solution to every problem. It’s just a matter of getting all the information, putting it together, trying something out, and seeing if it works.

If it does, pursue it. And if it doesn’t, try again.

I loved that job. But I had an opportunity to retire from it, collect my state pension, and become the president of a private school. I took it.

I thought I would be in charge, but the people at the school had their own way of doing things.

So I actually retired.

Anne working, parenting, moving quickly, and then all of that dropping off. Could be done as vertical panels

My husband and I were never wasteful with money. Never paid a bill late. We started saving for retirement from an early age, and I always took advantage of the retirement plans for every school district I worked in, contributing throughout my career. Because of that, I didn’t have to base my retirement decision on whether I would have enough money or not.

At first, I loved retired life—I had always been so busy, busy, busy, and now every night felt like Friday night, with no pressure to get up early and no place to be. My children were grown, and it was the first time I felt the freedom to do whatever I pleased.

But that initial bliss didn’t last.

I began feeling irritable. Unhappy. Adrift. Without the daily structure of work, I didn’t get much done and didn’t know what to do with myself. Breakfasts that used to take five minutes now took hours.

Time flies when you’re not doing anything, and that started to grate on my nerves.

Anne at the breakfast table, isolated, feeling like the day is closing in around her.

I also felt like I had lost my identity. With my career, I felt like I had a mission and was doing something important, and I was always proud of introducing myself as “Doctor.” Now that purpose was gone.

I had to do something because I still needed to feel productive. After I had been home for a few months, nearby school districts started calling me, asking if I would be an interim administrator—someone to keep things running smoothly while they looked for permanent hires.

So I went back to work. I spent four years working in four different districts, overseeing math and social studies curriculums and training my successors so they wouldn’t miss a step.

My last time doing that was four years ago. Being able to share my knowledge and expertise was extremely rewarding. The people I worked with were grateful, and I walked away knowing I did something good.

Today I’m enjoying myself. I’m an officer in a local service club—you’d be surprised how much time that takes! I make sure to have regular lunches with my friends, some of whom go back to my second teaching job. I have lots of time for my grandchildren.

I always tell people, “Before you retire, take a long vacation.” Because that is what many people really want when they say they want to retire. Most people I know who retired before they should have—well, they ended up burning out on it really quickly.

You have to reconstruct yourself in retirement. Even if you’ve saved your whole life and have put your finances in order, it’s still a challenge and requires emotional and psychological adjustments. For me, those short-term administrative positions made the transition less abrupt and offered fulfillment that I had previously found by working.

Everybody has an idea as to what they want to do when they retire. But I’ve learned that you have to be flexible and willing to switch things up. It’s not so different from how my career started. If one direction doesn’t work, make a turn. And keep going.

RetirementWisdom

By Marianne Oesher, Rob Pascale, and Molly Ward

Life after work can bring changes and challenges. These professionals can help you get ready to thrive.

Retirement isn’t a destination. It’s a journey—a long and winding road of mental, emotional, and financial twists and turns.

As is the case with any trip, it helps to have savvy guides.

Meet Marianne Oehser, Rob Pascale, and Molly Ward. Oehser, 73, is a professional retirement coach who writes books, holds workshops, and counsels individual clients. Pascale, 66, is the co-author of The Retirement Maze: What You Should Know Before and After You Retire and co-founder of Agnitus Life, a lifestyle website for people more than 60 years old. Ward, 46, is a Texas-based CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional with Equitable Advisors who has been helping people prepare for their retirement for more than two decades.

All three are focused on the challenges and opportunities of life after full-time work—in fact, both Oehser and Pascale have firsthand experience. For Oehser, an early retirement at age 40 from a senior position at an airline was followed by a move to Florida, a divorce, and a 14-year return to corporate work. “I didn’t get my first retirement right,” she says. “It was trial and error.”

Similarly, Pascale retired at 52 following a 25-year career as a research psychologist conducting market surveys for large companies—only to find himself bored, restless, and bouncing from one business project to the next. “At one point, I had six companies going,” he says. “Making jewelry, importing organic food from Italy—crazy stuff. I ended up staring out the window one night at 2 a.m., sleepless, wondering why I was doing any of this.”

Pascale laughs. “How many cans of imported freakin’ tomatoes could I count?” he says.

Ward isn’t close to retiring. “I mostly think about my son graduating from high school seven years from now,” she says with a laugh. Still, she already is preparing her own family’s finances for the road ahead. Seeing numerous clients transition into retirement has shown Ward that the most effective financial plans are crafted around a comprehensive vision of the future. “Retirement isn’t one-size-fits-all,” she says. “Thinking ahead about your vision will make you better prepared and also help you discover what’s possible after working.”

Recently, we asked readers of The Atlantic to share their most pressing questions about retirement. We then asked Oehser, Pascale, and Ward to answer those questions—creating a road map for how to navigate your own retirement journey.

Click on a Question to Expand the answer

“What are people’s biggest mistakes as they navigate retirement?” —Female, 23

“What are people’s biggest mistakes as they navigate retirement?” —Female, 23

Rob: It’s almost impossible to appreciate the effort required to build a meaningful retirement lifestyle while still working. We can get blindsided by dreams of greener pastures while dealing with the stresses of a job and enter retirement unprepared.

Molly: With some people, we see a feeling of regret. They wish they would have saved more. They wish they would have started planning earlier. They wish they had addressed long-term care and aging. Freedom in retirement equals having the right amount of financial security.

You’re at the perfect age to make small choices that turn into big differences later on: contributing to your company’s retirement savings plan, reducing your student loan debt, budgeting wisely, and having important conversations about money with your significant other. Those conversations are hard—especially if you expect a beautiful house in an upscale neighborhood yet your partner is content with a bungalow!—but they can bring you closer together.

There’s an old saying: The best time to plant an oak tree was 50 years ago, and the second best time is today. That holds true. Time is on your side, especially with the magic of compounding interest. One of the biggest mistakes we see is younger people not taking advantage of that magic.

Rob: Making sure your finances are in order is certainly critical. But money only provides permission to retire. Relatively few plan on how they will use their time.

Marianne: Research tells us that people spend more time planning a two-week vacation than they do planning their life after their career! Usually, people have a somewhat vague idea of what life will be like, kind of like a great vacation. They think that they will never get tired of playing golf or working on a hobby or cleaning the closets—but they usually do.

When the newness wears off, disappointment, boredom, and a feeling of emptiness often set in. People panic. They think something is very wrong, that they made a mistake and shouldn’t have retired. They often blame someone else, especially a spouse, for how they feel: I’m not happy, so there must be something wrong with our relationship. This is one of the leading causes of the growing “gray divorce” phenomenon.

Rob: It’s easy to assume all the pieces will fall into place and you will learn as you go. But you have to approach retirement like a job, with responsibilities and goals.

What can I do now to be more prepared for retirement? —Male, 43

What can I do now to be more prepared for retirement? —Male, 43

Rob: Retirement is about building a new life, one with lots of gaps that need to be filled. Without plans, your days lack structure, and that can make you feel that you have little personal control. When we lack control, we’re less motivated to do anything because we’re not sure how to make our life better. Things spiral downward from there: Reluctance to act can lead to negative feelings about retirement, and that can lead to unhappiness or, worse, depression.

While you’re still working, plan how you will use your time. Those plans have to include the details, not just general ideas—and you need to lay out steps for reaching goals. Go through a reality check to make sure your goals can be attained.

Marianne: Be sure you have balance in your life now. The people that have the hardest time retiring are those whose whole life was consumed by what they did for a living. When people only think of themselves as a doctor, or a teacher, or, say, “Brooke’s mom,” they are lost when those labels disappear.

This is a great time to make time to do things you enjoy outside of work. Develop a hobby, explore your interests, or find a way to make a difference in your community. When you retire, you will already have things to expand on or a sense of new things you might want to try.

Molly: Financially, you’re approaching your peak earning years. Your career is accelerating. Do you have a plan to capitalize on this? Choices you make now can have a significant impact on your retirement wealth and life choices.

You’re probably busy with work and with young children. But this is a critical time in your life’s journey. We sometimes refer to this period as the “derailment phase,” the time when the inevitable struggles we all face start to arise. I’ve seen so many brilliant business people and hardworking parents unnecessarily suffer when they’ve experienced a health crisis, a divorce, a death in the family.

So take a moment to pause and plan. Be proactive and thoughtful. Set yourself up so that you can handle the expected and unexpected risks and contingencies that life can and will throw your way. It can change the course of your life and your family’s life.

“How do I still find value and purpose in my life in retirement when my identity has been so tied to work and care-taking?” —Female, 33

“How do I still find value and purpose in my life in retirement when my identity has been so tied to work and care-taking?” —Female, 33

Marianne: People who have a sense of purpose are happier and live up to seven years longer than people who don’t. But what does having a purpose mean? At one point, I didn’t think I had a purpose because I wasn’t doing something big, like solving world hunger or saving the rain forests. Now I know that the scope of your purpose is not important—what is important is to do something that benefits others in some way, even if it helps only one person.

Rob: Our work identity is firmly embedded in our psyche. It’s the basis of our self-worth, connects us to a peer group, and keeps us focused on our responsibilities. It’s further reinforced by the psychological benefits of working and by the fact that it’s tied to a paycheck. It’s too deeply ingrained to be switched off the day we retire.

But some hold onto it way too long. And unless we drop that role, we can become stuck between two worlds—no longer a member of the job world but not willing to define ourselves as retirees. That blocks us from developing a retirement lifestyle and slows down our adjustment. In extreme cases, we can come to feel “roleless,” and that can make us feel disconnected and alienated.

Marianne: Author Richard Leider uses a formula that I like to use to define purpose: Gifts + Passion + Value = Your Purpose. Your gifts are your talents—the things you are good at. Passion is the love you have for what you are good at. And value has two sides to it: Whatever you are going to use your gifts to do must have value to someone else and to you.

Rob: Our worker identity weakens on its own over time. But rather than wait, we can use what we have to move the process along. We all have more than one way to define who we are as people and to connect ourselves to the outside world. We may be parents, friends, or even bird-watchers. We can add to our arsenal by getting absorbed in other activities, such as volunteering or joining clubs. As we dedicate time to them and pick up the patterns and responsibilities associated with them, the stronger our new identity will become.

“I’ve been furloughed by my company because of the coronavirus pandemic, and it’s unclear if my position will still exist once the economy is reopened. I’m not ready to retire, but I may not have a choice. What should I be thinking—and doing—to cope?” —Female, 56

“I’ve been furloughed by my company because of the coronavirus pandemic, and it’s unclear if my position will still exist once the economy is reopened. I’m not ready to retire, but I may not have a choice. What should I be thinking—and doing—to cope?” —Female, 56

Marianne: My heart goes out to you and the others who are in the same situation. It is a difficult time, for sure.

Molly: Right now, we are seeing this left and right. I’ve seen some people deal with it by taking charge—they are going online to get educated in different fields. One woman I know is moving from a 30-year career in oil and gas to the health care industry. Switching fields can seem unimaginable. But it can be the right door to open. Your ability to earn income, even from part-time work, will alleviate stress and keep your mind active while you ease into full retirement.

You also should be reviewing your insurance coverages, assets, and income streams—in that order. If your employment income is now questionable, is your foundation solid? Do you have adequate emergency money, health insurance, long-term care insurance? Can you create your own “paycheck” from the money you have saved?

Rob: People who are pushed into retirement are often mentally and emotionally unprepared. They’re not retirees in their heads. They haven’t had a psychological break from their careers. The negative thoughts and feelings they experience block them from building their identity around the retirement role. They have a hard time feeling motivated and finding something that’s personally meaningful.

So one of the most important things you can do is to accept your circumstances as soon as possible. Dwelling on how badly you feel serves no good purpose, and anger and second-guessing only leads to perseveration, a cycle of negative thoughts that is hard to break and will inhibit your ability to move forward.

Marianne: One of the good things about the situation we are all in is that it’s giving us time to reflect on things we often just don’t make time for—like what you want your life to be like when you emerge from this time, especially if you will be moving into “retirement.” Retirement no longer means not working. It’s just a new phase of your life that will have a different cadence and be filled with some different things than the last phase was.

How do I maintain my social networks and find meaningful interactions with people on a daily basis when I am no longer in the workplace? —Male, 69

How do I maintain my social networks and find meaningful interactions with people on a daily basis when I am no longer in the workplace? —Male, 69

Rob: When we retire, we lose our co-worker friendships. The size of our social network shrinks by almost half. So does the time we spend in social interactions. As our social pool evaporates, it’s difficult to replenish.

But how much you enjoy retirement is unquestionably tied to the quality of your social life. A satisfying one lets us feel connected to the outside world, feeds our personal identity, adds to our self-esteem, and is a source of emotional support. And, of course, friends give us something to do and someone to do it with.

Social isolation, on the other hand, is considered to be as high a health risk as obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Our identity may be threatened, our self-esteem can be weakened, and we’re at a higher risk of depression. There are also physical risks, including high blood pressure, coronary disease, and weakened immune system possibly brought on by stress.

Marianne: Men are at a disadvantage when it comes to making social connections. They typically learn to form social relationships around sports and other macho activities. The men who are retiring now grew up being told that they are supposed to handle all of their problems on their own. That makes it harder for them to reach out for friendships with other men—just ask their wives! I can’t get him to join anything is a frequent lament.

Rob: Some ideas that might help are:

  • Meet up with your current friends and acquaintances regularly.
  • Use the internet to track down old friends with whom you’ve had meaningful relationships in the past.
  • Join clubs and senior organizations—or start your own. This may sound silly, but if you know one person who knows another who knows another, soon you’ll know enough folks to meet anyone’s social needs.
  • Take a class or two at your local college, library, or community center.
  • Consider taking a job outside the home, specifically for the social benefits.

Marianne: Some shared interest groups are set up specifically for men, often with 8 to 12 members who meet every two weeks. According to Chuck Fink, who started one such group in North Carolina, “They talk about the things men are not supposed to talk about—and it is not reminiscing about their careers. They refer to themselves as PIPs—Previously Important People!” They also socialize and do things for the community.

There is another widespread phenomenon known as ROMEO: Retired Old Men Eating Out. According to AARP, there are hundreds of self-proclaimed ROMEO groups across the country, some with a handful of members, some with as many as 80. They meet for lunch or for breakfast, weekly or monthly. Some form spontaneously because of members’ common interests. Some are associated with religious groups, adult communities, or senior centers.

Rob: If you’re not sure whether your social life is adequate, it probably isn’t, and you need to fix that. Do it for your health, if not for the sheer enjoyment.

“How do I get over the fear of retiring?” —Female, 61

“How do I get over the fear of retiring?” —Female, 61

Rob: Retire! I don’t mean to be flippant. Rather, I just mean that there’s no way to understand what retirement is really like until you’re in it. You can try putting it off, and you should be able to do that for some years. However, retirement is likely in your future—better to embrace the inevitable so you can be prepared. Besides, you’re much better off retiring on your own terms than if you’re forced into the situation. And you’re better off retiring at a relatively young age—in your mid-60s or so, so you can create a satisfying lifestyle—rather than when you’re older and less motivated.

Marianne: The first step is to become aware of what you are afraid of. Some possibilities might be: running out of money, losing your identity, not feeling valued anymore, being bored, losing social connections, declining health, not having enough mental stimulation, or being concerned that too much time with your partner will hurt the relationship.

The next step is to make a list of the things you fear about retirement. For each one, write some possible things you could do to overcome that fear. Here are just some examples:

  • Running out of money: Talk to a financial advisor about my situation. Ask if I will have enough income or whether I should plan to supplement it with some kind of part-time work.
  • Losing my identity: Talk to a coach or counselor about how to reframe my perception of who I am.
  • Not feeling valued anymore: Make a list of the ways I have felt valued in the past. What was it about those things that made me feel that way? Make a list of things I can do after I stop working that will make me feel that way.
  • Declining health: Investigate the facts about people’s health after retirement. Ask myself if my fear is based on a myth or reality. Make a list of things I will do to stay healthy.

Molly: We sometimes see clients who don’t retire, even though all of their money and financial projections look promising and “check out,” so to speak. That means something might be holding them back—something they haven’t even discovered for themselves.

Have you talked with your parents about their wishes for their later years? What are their finances like? Are you able to easily help them when they need help? Where is their will—and do they even have one? Are your children struggling to launch their lives? Are you concerned about their relationships? If you have money to pass on to them, is it protected from them making rash decisions with it or from a marriage that goes awry? Do you have a plan?

We often ask our pre-retirees, You’ve been retired for a year now, and it’s 2 p.m. on a Tuesday. What are you doing? Too often, they haven’t thought about it. And they haven’t talked about it with their spouse. So, I understand those fears. It may help to talk with a financial professional who has the wisdom of walking the retirement path because he or she has done so with hundreds of others who have faced the same challenges as you.

“How should you decide where to live?” —Male, 60

“How should you decide where to live?” —Male, 60

Marianne: You should start by having a clear, written plan for the nonfinancial side of your new life. I call it your Happiness Portfolio. You look at eight important life arenas—like your relationship with a spouse or significant other, friends and family, and self-development. For each arena, you should have a vision for what it will be like, how much of your time you want to spend doing things in that area, and some concrete action steps to make it happen. Once you have that picture, you can start evaluating places you want to live.

Molly: Expenses can’t be ignored. They are the driving force of retirement nest eggs. For any location you’re considering, you need to understand the cost of living—including different taxes in various locations and the expense to see your family if they live elsewhere—and make that part of your financial plan.

Marianne: It’s a big temptation to live in a place where you enjoy going on vacation! After all, you know you like it there. But the experience of living there is not the same as being there on vacation. This is where your Happiness Portfolio comes in. Be sure that the place you are considering has all of the features and amenities you want to include in your new life. For example, if self-development is important for you, do they have a lifelong learning program or other opportunities for you to explore?

Rob: A 2009 study found that retirees who tried to move to “paradise”—that is, who relocated to an area with warmer climate and more recreational facilities—were less happy than they expected to be. Meanwhile, retirees who focused on practical elements in deciding where to live—such as easy access to medical services, daily conveniences, or proximity to friends and family—felt happier and more at peace.

Molly: Most often, we see that community and family overrides a beautiful landscape. Especially now, with the coronavirus pandemic, retirees that live far from their families are faced with the reality that it’s not so easy for their grandchildren to fly to see them.

Marianne: If you’re considering moving closer to your children, be careful of two things. One, how do they feel about you being “next door,” and two, is there a possibility that they could move? One of my clients moved across the country to be closer to her daughter and grandchildren. A year later, her son-in-law got a job offer he couldn’t refuse, and they moved 1,000 miles away.

Rob: It’s in your best interests to spend quite a few months in retirement—wait until the honeymoon wears off—before making your decision as to where to live.

Marianne: When you think you know where you want to live, test it out first. Consider renting a place for six months to explore what living there is really like.

“How do I avoid being bored?” —Female, 60

“How do I avoid being bored?” —Female, 60

Marianne: Not having a schedule is very freeing—but it can be a challenge to fill up all of those hours!

Rob: The simple answer is to stay active. Take dance lessons. Learn to paint. Go back to school. Become a volunteer. Mentor a child in need. The most successful retirees keep a full schedule.

Marianne: Start by making a list of things you love to do, things you always wished you had time to do, and things that would be fun to learn or do. Also include the things you know you should do, like exercising. And think about whether you want to include some things that contribute to your community in some way.

Next, arrange your list into three categories: things that you are most interested in, things you’d like to do if there is time, and things you want to get to someday. Start with the things you are most interested in. Research ways to include each one in your life, and put them on your calendar.

Rob: Keep an open mind. And keep experimenting. Well-adjusted retirees are always looking for new and interesting activities and experiences. Those who sustain their curiosity also tend to feel younger, rejuvenated, and productive.

It’s important to keep things in perspective. You’re not likely to find something in retirement that’s quite as all-absorbing or personally fulfilling as a career. But retirement also doesn’t have daily pressures and deadlines, concerns about your performance, the fear of being dismissed, and all the other things that used to make you wish you were retired. When you’re bored, try to remember the full range of emotions you experienced—good and bad—while you were working. Then sit back and relax!

“My partner and I are both planning on retiring in the next few years, but we’ve never talked about how we’ll handle our money or deal with health problems when they happen. How do I bring all of this up? What questions should we be asking each other?” —Male, 55

“My partner and I are both planning on retiring in the next few years, but we’ve never talked about how we’ll handle our money or deal with health problems when they happen. How do I bring all of this up? What questions should we be asking each other?” —Male, 55

Marianne: It’s common for couples to avoid talking about big topics, especially as they approach retirement. This may have become a habit. There isn’t much time to talk while you’re working and raising your family. Or it may just be you haven’t faced these things yet.

But now is a great time to break that habit. In fact, it’s a critical time for you, as a couple, to change your approach. One of the big contributors to “gray divorce” is the undiscussed assumptions partners have as they enter retirement and begin to live in a new phase of life. Seemingly small things like household chores can cause major rifts in a relationship. How to handle money and health problems are big ones.

Molly: Start with a conversation of what’s really important to both of you, such as where you want to live and your lifestyle. Next, go into the nuts and bolts. Make an assessment of what you have in terms of accounts, debts, income, and expenses. Ask questions about risks and protection: How safe are your income streams? Where will your dollars come from for each year in retirement? If one or both of you are ill and need care, how will that be paid for? Are your wills and medical orders up to date? Finally, talk about what you want your legacies to be.

Marianne: Tell your partner that you have heard about how important it is for every couple to talk about how the changes retirement brings are going to affect your lives. It should not be a discussion about right and wrong but rather about what each of you wants and needs. The outcome is a mutual picture of how your new life will work for both of you.

Molly: Remember that it’s not simply money that you’re discussing. It’s your dreams and dignity. You’re thinking about the future you prefer, not a future subject to high-risk health care costs or stock market surprises. You’re protecting each other’s health. You’re designing what the next generation will inherit—or what they’ll have to clean up.

These are intimate conversations. It’s important to look deeper into the embedded thought patterns you and your partner have about money, something called Money Scripts. Talking about them can bring you closer together.

“My husband wants to retire in the next few years, but I’m not ready to give up my work. How can we make plans for our future when we’re not retiring at the same time?” —Female, 53

“My husband wants to retire in the next few years, but I’m not ready to give up my work. How can we make plans for our future when we’re not retiring at the same time?” —Female, 53

Rob: As a general rule, and if circumstances permit, partners should retire simultaneously or as close as they can to each other. That way, both are emotionally supported through the adjustment process; they can plan better as to how to use their time, and they have a ready companion for activities and social events. When retirements aren’t synchronized, that can interfere with the retired partner’s participation in certain types of activities or social events and leaves that person at risk of isolation and depression.

If synchronization isn’t possible, then it’s usually best for the wife to retire first. Why? Many husbands rely on their wife to keep them active and socially connected, but if their wife is still working, then that help is unavailable. Also, the dynamics of the marriage can change when a husband is no longer bringing home a paycheck. Many men like to think of themselves as the breadwinners and may feel a hit to their self-worth if their wife is providing financial support.

Marianne: It’s definitely possible to make plans. Perhaps you just need phases to the plan. Begin by looking at what you ultimately want your life to be like. People usually start with their bucket list, which includes the big things you want to do, like travel and moving to a new home. That often presents the biggest challenge in a staggered retirement: If you’re working, you may not be able to travel as much as your retired husband might like, and it probably won’t be possible to relocate yet, if that is also part of your dream.

Rob: What you have going for you is time. You can use the years before your husband retires to work through some issues. First and foremost, come up with a schedule as to when each of you will retire; we’re much better at handling situations when we know what to expect than when we’re left in the dark. You have to agree on this schedule. For you to be mentally prepared for retirement, you can’t have that decision forced upon you. If you do, you will eventually come to resent your predicament and blame your husband.

Talk to your husband about how he plans to use his time, and keep in mind that the devil’s in the details. Just having a broad idea of what he might do is not good enough. Specific steps must be laid out, and his plans should cover all aspects of living, like activities, social engagements, and household chores. For your part, give your husband permission to participate in some activities alone, even those you would prefer to do as a couple.

Marianne: More important than planning the big stuff is building a picture of what each of you wants your everyday life to be like. Most people don’t focus on that picture and become disappointed and disillusioned when every day sets in.

One of the challenges couples face when they retire at the same time is that husbands often rely on their wife to keep them busy. But your husband will not be able to fall into that trap. This creates an opportunity and a challenge for him to find ways to fill his hours with things other than endless television or mindless computer stuff. It also means that it will be especially important for you to be emotionally available to him when you are together.

“What contributes most to good mental health in retirement?” —Female, 63

“What contributes most to good mental health in retirement?” —Female, 63

Marianne: The first thing is to keep your mind and body active—both of them are prone to the “use it or lose it” principle. When you don’t get enough exercise, your muscles and organs don’t work or function as well. The less you move, the less you are able to. The same is true for your mind. If you don’t stimulate it with learning, conversation, or mental exercises, it starts to atrophy.

Rob: Be realistic about your expectations. You might not find day-to-day retirement as interesting or exciting as your career, and if your expectations are too positive, you may end up feeling disappointed. On the other hand, if you’re too negative, you’ll be pessimistic about your future.

Marianne: One of the biggest emotional risks in retirement is social isolation. So stay socially engaged and connected. That’s a choice. You have to make a conscious effort to maintain existing connections and to make new ones. The specific amount of time you spend with your friends and family is not what is important. What is important is having a network of people with whom you regularly interact and know you can count on for support.

Rob: Try to look at your retirement as the next logical step in your life—not the termination of a career but a move into a new life stage that’s full of gaps. That may keep you motivated to fill those gaps with stuff that’s important to you.

Marianne: Make sure you have a purpose. We all need a reason to get up in the morning. It is also a way to feel that we matter, which is a basic human need.

Rob: Approach retirement as an opportunity for new experiences. As you experiment, keep in mind that this is trial and error and that you are bound to fail at times. Don’t let that discourage you.

“In our family, there is a tug between being available for our children to assist with three grandchildren, and our own desires to cast off obligations and travel freely when and where we want to go. How do we set the right balance point?” —Male, 68

“In our family, there is a tug between being available for our children to assist with three grandchildren, and our own desires to cast off obligations and travel freely when and where we want to go. How do we set the right balance point?” —Male, 68

Marianne: Your tug is between two things you love. The issue is about setting boundaries. Both of your desires are very understandable—and you can have both!

Rob: Hanging out with the grandkiddies has value, but you shouldn’t become too reliant on family nor allow your family to rely too much on you. Your children’s priorities are about building their lives, raising their kids, and working—things that aren’t relevant to your stage of life. You certainly shouldn’t ignore your kids, but you should avoid making them the centerpiece of your retirement lifestyle.

What’s important is balance between a life of independent activities that allow you to feel fulfilled and a social life that includes equal parts family and friends.

Marianne: To set the balance, start with an honest and open conversation with your children about both your desire to assist them in caring for your grandchildren and your desire to enjoy the freedom of traveling. You also need to understand their expectations of your support. That means you all need to know the starting point.

You have to be clear in your mind about what traveling freely means to you. How often do you want to travel? How spontaneous does it need to be? How long do you think you want to be away? Those dreams are an important part of your life now, and you deserve to live them.

You also have to understand what “being available for them” really means, both to them and to you. There are almost always ways to find someone to be your backup when you are away. What are the options for that?

Rob: If you feel put upon by what’s asked of you, or if you notice that you’re skipping events or changing plans often to help out your family, then you’re probably out of balance. Ultimately, what we do for ourselves contributes to our psychological well-being. And when we feel good psychologically, we’re better to the people around us.

Marianne: You all love each other. The solution is there to be discovered.

“Do I ever have to retire?” — Female, 66

“Do I ever have to retire?” — Female, 66

Marianne: No! Today retirement is totally optional! Besides, what does retirement now mean, anyway? That word no longer describes what we want the last one-third of our life to look like.

Rob: Probably not. I say probably because the odds of getting packaged out of your job go up with age. Nevertheless, some people try to stay as long as they can with their original jobs or find a similar position in another organization. Others retire but take bridge jobs—jobs that bridge the gap between all work and no work. A bridge job is something of a psychological sleight of hand: Retirees can consider themselves retired but still reap the benefits of working.

Marianne: Your company cannot set a mandatory retirement age unless there is a legal reason, usually for safety reasons. It’s also possible that your company could try to find a reason to push you out. It happened to me! It is not pleasant. But it can create an opportunity.

Rob: For bridge jobs to be beneficial, a person has to work for the right reasons. Money or boredom cannot be the only motivators. Rather, you should look for psychological and social benefits, such as feeling productive or having an opportunity for social contact. That way, you will enjoy your job and feel happier overall.

About 25 percent of retirees continue to work to some degree and have found that doing so has made their transition to retirement smoother. They feel more socially connected, have greater self-confidence, a sense of purpose, and are generally optimistic about their future.

Marianne: There are an amazing number of ways you can continue to work if you are willing to seek them out.

The Write Stuff

By Robert Fulton

Unexpectedly grounded, a longtime pilot rediscovered his passion for the written word—and reinvented himself in retirement.

I’ve always been a pilot.

Bitten by the flight bug early, I filled my childhood with building model airplanes and watching shows about planes on TV. I also spent a lot of time in airports, traveling between divorced parents.

After getting married in 1966, I started working at an airfield in Calgary, Canada, pumping gas for the small prop planes that came in and out. It paid a measly salary, but I got a discount on plane rentals.

In six months I had my private pilot’s license.

What followed was 50 years in the sky.

I joined the Army and flew Cobra helicopters during the Vietnam War. I flew helicopters off the deck of a 180-foot-long oil exploration ship in the Arctic. I flew crop dusters and logging helicopters and commercial airlines.

In 2007, I became an air ambulance pilot in Southern Florida. It was a great program, one of the best in the country. And as it grew, my role grew along with it until I was directing a team of six pilots.

And then abruptly, the program was shuttered.

I was 68 years old and had never considered retirement. Financially, I was okay. I had flown for an airline that went bankrupt and for companies that had been taken over. Those pensions had disappeared. However, I also had saved money on my own. If you can put away a core amount early on and keep saving and stay with it, you’ll really benefit later on.

But I couldn’t imagine my life without flying. I felt like I had been hit in the side of the head with a bat.

I could have gone elsewhere to continue flying, but my wife had a great job that she loved, and neither of us wanted to move.

For the next four months, I would get out of bed, go to my home office, sit in my chair, and stare at the wall until dinner. I was completely lost. Without necessarily realizing it, I was grieving the end of my career.

I had no idea what to do next.

I had never set aside the time to identify the other interests in my life outside of flying, something that in hindsight I would tell anyone to begin doing today.

At parties and events, I would still introduce myself by telling people what I used to do. I was stuck in the past. At one such event I met a retirement coach who suggested we work together to help uncover what had led me to become so stuck.

Those conversations saved my life.

I realized that I had completely lost my sense of purpose and felt like I didn’t matter without my career. And I had been harboring a lot of negative emotions: anger at my program being canceled; anger at my mother for events going back to my childhood; and unresolved trauma from my combat experience in Vietnam. By reconciling those feelings, I was able to begin to see new possibilities.

Years ago, my wife had encouraged me to take a mail-order writing course. I’d enjoyed it and had written a story about my time in the war, but I had never followed through with it.

Now that I’d had the opportunity to process what had happened to me, I picked the story back up again. My daughter was even able to help me get it in front of a Hollywood studio. They loved it.

I wanted to turn the story into a script. But there was just one problem: I’d never written one.

I bought a bunch of screenwriting books, and over the course of a year my script began to take shape.

The process was incredibly fulfilling—and cathartic.

I tried reading the script to my wife but became so emotional that I couldn’t even finish. I felt like a weight had been lifted off me.

If I could talk to my younger self, I’d tell him that retirement isn’t being put out to pasture. It’s a huge opportunity to go beyond who you were. Anything you ever thought you might want to take on is possible. It’s just a matter of taking the first step in the right direction. Don’t be afraid.

I feel like I’m now living in one of my golden ages. Taking that time to resolve my feelings has felt like a shot of jet fuel.

Now I spend my time doing something creative every day. I wish that I could do this for another 30 years.

The Power of
Connection

Photography by TESS MAYER

Remaining socially engaged is one of the keys to a healthy and fulfilling retirement—even in the face of an isolating pandemic.

About a year after Lynda Kenney retired from infrastructure finance in 2016, her friends encouraged her to attend a dance class for older adults, which she admittedly thought would be “hokey.”

Today Kenney is a weekly fixture at her neighborhood class in downtown Manhattan, organized by Dances for a Variable Population, and describes the experience in very different terms: fabulous and heart-opening.

“You really form a bond with your fellow dancers,” she says. “And I’ve made very good friends there. The community is not just the people who dance—it’s our teachers as well. We really all love each other a lot.”

For retirees such as Kenney, the seemingly simple act of connecting with others through social groups, common hobbies, and mutual passions can make a large and positive difference in the quality of their lives after full-time work—providing a renewed sense of purpose and a range of health and wellness benefits.

“As people get ready for retirement, it’s important that they have a solid financial plan in place,” says Sandra Timmermann, a gerontologist who consults with Equitable on retirement and aging. “Once they address their finances, they should start developing their own social engagement plan, thinking through how they want to spend their time and what will give them a sense of purpose once they retire. Staying active and engaged in meaningful activities is a key to aging well.”

And aging well is more important than ever. Since 1900, life expectancy has increased for Americans by 29 years, which means some adults spend more time retired than they did working. Studies show that robust social engagement is associated with retirees living better and longer—and group exercise classes, like the program Kenney attended, can be particularly powerful. Research has found that they reduce health care costs, decrease the risk of hospitalization and depression, ease feelings of loneliness, and increase life satisfaction and the ability of older people to perform daily living activities.

But social connection of any kind can be beneficial. According to Timmermann, being engaged in life is what counts. The important thing for retirees is to find communities in which they feel a sense of belonging and a joint purpose.

Want to make a difference? Volunteer with a literacy organization. Ready to start your own business? Connect with a mentor or a local entrepreneur association. Love nature and the outdoors? Join a running, walking, rock-climbing, or bird-watching group. Enjoy acting? Get involved with senior theater.

Do you miss being a cheerleader, or have you always wanted to wave a pair of pom-poms? There’s an Arizona-based cheer squad for women ages 55 and older that has you covered.

“In society, we tend to stereotype older people and look at them in a different way, like, Oh, those seniors! They just want to sit around and play bingo!” says Timmermann. “But that isn’t true anymore. Times have changed.”

When Kenney first retired, she was excited to have extra time on her hands. She planned to make more art, get some much-needed sleep, and improve her health. However, she didn’t fully grasp what she was leaving behind.

“While I had longtime friends outside of work, I had spent five days a week with a work community that was no longer there,” she says. “Now missing was the working together, social interaction, and my long lunchtime walks into Central Park. With little routine, I had a hard time concentrating and staying on task.”

Kenney’s experience isn’t unique. One of the biggest challenges retirees can face is the loss of office friendships and camaraderie. One survey of nearly 1,500 retirees found that the number of those who count former coworkers as friends dropped from 61 percent to 41 percent over the first 10 years of retirement—and that the emotional closeness of those relationships declines over time.

“Once people leave the workplace, they lose the structure, the mental challenge, and social connections with co-workers that a job provides,” says Timmermann. “That can lead to social isolation, which is a serious problem for those who are older.”

According to a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine report published in February, nearly one quarter of Americans aged 65 and older are socially isolated, while 43 percent of adults aged 60 or older report feeling lonely. Both isolation and feelings of loneliness can be detrimental to one’s health and sense of emotional well-being.

For retirees in particular, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating those risks. Because older adults are more vulnerable to the coronavirus, many have adopted a cautious approach to social engagement—postponing travel, canceling engagements with friends and family, missing part-time and volunteer work, staying home from churches and gyms, and otherwise rearranging their daily lives.

Even as state and local governments begin to lift social-distancing and stay-at-home orders, care and caution likely will define the new normal.

“With the pandemic, we are now in a situation where older people are even more isolated and not able to get out and participate the way they used to,” says Timmermann. “The loneliness factor is potentially being multiplied.”

While adjusting to the new normal will be challenging, retirees don’t have to go it alone. When New York City largely shut down in March to stem the spread of COVID-19, Dances for a Variable Population began sharing short exercise videos to encourage students to keep moving and stay connected.

Those videos were followed by a rapidly growing schedule of phone and online video courses. Regulars such as Kenney tuned in, and so did a number of new participants, including students’ friends and family who live outside of New York City.

“Loneliness was an epidemic before this happened, and it’s been interesting to see how we’re handling that,” says Magda Kaczmarska, a dance teacher and the organization’s operations manager. “I think moving forward, this platform might be very well adapted to those older adults who are most isolated, whether because they’re homebound or they’re in a really remote community. This is a potential resource.”

Local activity groups across the country, such as a senior theater company in California that teaches performing arts classes, are taking a similar approach to Dances for a Variable Population; by going virtual, they’re providing isolated older adults the opportunity to connect with others from the safety of their homes.

“There are so many opportunities online to connect to other people and do the things you love to do,” says Timmermann. “You can listen to concerts, play bridge, and even have virtual happy hours with friends—and they are easily accessible, even for those with little experience with technology.”

“For the most part, this generation of retirees wants to remain active and engaged. While we are living in a challenging time during the pandemic, older adults are resourceful and still can find ways to pursue the things they always wanted to do but never had the time.”

This sentiment is echoed by Naomi Goldberg Haas, the founder and artistic director of Dances for a Variable Population. She emphasizes “how important it is to move from wherever you are in life” and notes that activity classes, like those offered by her organization, have more than social and physical benefits. They also open up opportunities to explore one’s inherent creativity and discover new passions.

That’s certainly true for Kenney. Her weekly dance classes have provided more than just new friends; they’ve eased her transition into a fulfilling retirement by providing a new sense of purpose—and expanded her understanding what being a retiree can look like. “I’m more accepting of being an elder and recognize that you can still move in creative ways, not just doing an exercise class or something,” says Kenney. “It made me recognize my bias and dissolve it.” By seeking out new communities and social connections of their own, other retirees can find the same. “If Dances for a Variable Population had entered my life either while [I was retiring] or at work, dance would already have been embedded into my routine,” she says. “[And that would have made] for a smoother transition into my new life.”

A Second Chance
for First Love

By Gayle Puterbaugh and Kim Smith

After 40 years apart, a pair of high school sweethearts unexpectedly reconnected and found happiness in retirement.

KIM:

We went on our first date in October 1970.

Gayle was 16, had just gotten his driver’s license, and borrowed his sister’s car to come pick me up. On the way home we crashed into a ditch and totaled the car.

GAYLE:

It took me a couple of months to talk her parents into letting us go out again!

KIM:

Thankfully, it didn’t stop us from seeing each other, and we dated for the next two years, young and in love. But when Gayle went off to college, we went our separate ways.

And for the next 40 years, we lived entirely separate lives.

Gayle heading off to college, separating the couple for 40 years.

KIM:

I went to college, earned my degree in engineering, and ended up working for an electrical utility company.

After a career change, I found myself in St. Louis, managing corporate mergers in a variety of international locations. I settled down, married, and had two daughters.

GAYLE:

Meanwhile, I went off to college and struggled mightily. I missed Kim, I lost interest in my favorite activities, and I took on too heavy a course load.

That summer, I was offered a job working on pipelines, and I took it. That summer job turned into a 38-year career.

GAYLE:

I worked my way up, becoming a computer technician, then a supervisor, and then moving to Houston to oversee the rollout of personal computers company-wide.

Over time, I married, had children, divorced, and remarried.

Gayle & Kim living completely separate lives

KIM:

Over this entire period, we saw each other exactly twice: once at a funeral for Gayle’s father and once at a funeral for my brother.

GAYLE:

We never talked, never called, never emailed. We never had any kind of connection other than those two encounters.

KIM:

But I thought about him my whole life.

GAYLE:

Same here. She was the love of my life. That was the way it was.

Gayle & Kim in separate locations, thinking about each other and the love they had had

KIM:

Some major health scares were the impetus for change in both of our lives.

In 2010, at age 53, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Thankfully, it was benign, but it forced me to examine the choices that had brought me to that point in my life.

KIM:

When my company went through a major reorganization, I chose to retire.

I also filed for divorce. I had been unhappy for a long time, my daughters had grown, and I missed my hometown.

At the time, my life was running me, and I wanted to run my life. I had been a saver all my life—contributing to retirement plans, taking advantage of matching employer contributions, and growing my money over time. Having that security allowed me to make the decisions I did—but still, I was scared! I retired and divorced within a couple of months and planned to move home.

GAYLE:

In 2010, on the way home from my niece’s wedding, I had a stroke. The experience was terrifying and left me dealing with an intense recovery process, which gave me time to think.

I was unhappy in my marriage, tired of living in Houston, and was warned by my doctor that going back to my stressful job would be like “putting a gun to my head.”

GAYLE:

I spoke to my financial advisor, who had taught me how to save and had set up several retirement accounts for me. She helped me determine that I could afford to stop working and leave Houston.

That set the stage for me to make changes. Some people go on blind faith that they can afford retirement, and they can’t. Other people stay on the job because they think they can’t afford to leave, even though they really can. If you’re thinking about retirement, you have to know the financial part.

In 2012, I retired, divorced, and moved back to my hometown, where the rest of my family still lived. I missed them.

GAYLE:

In many ways, Kim and I were both starting over, moving into our retirements alone and figuring out what our purposes would be.

Thankfully, we found each other again. We both realized after our first real conversation that we just kind of picked up where we left off. The same feelings, the same understandings, the history we had.

KIM:

It was so natural, so easy. It felt normal. We are best friends. It was like finally talking to my best friend again.

We met again in person, and it didn’t take long for that to become a regular event. We were both looking for a home and pretty quickly decided we’d buy a place together. So we spent the next three months driving through the countryside, reconnecting with the region—and each other.

KIM:

We found our home, nestled in the Illinois hills, in some of the most beautiful country God ever put together. And in November 2016, we were married.

I don’t think anyone in the family who knew us as teenagers was surprised.

GAYLE:

We’ve also revived family gatherings. A few times a year we’ll have 60 people or more up here, fishing, camping, and riding dirt bikes. It has brought our families closer together.

KIM:

There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t mention how blessed we are—blessed to be sharing this beautiful place and blessed to be sharing this life.

GAYLE:

Saving and investing gave us the opportunity to live a comfortable, secure life.

Looking back, I’d tell myself to “focus on your values.” If you’re going to spend time and energy on something, spend it on things you really value—the things you would miss most if you didn’t have them. And my love for Kim is at the top of that list.

KIM:

A lot of people, when they talk about retirement, they ask, “Where will I be or what will I do?” I think people need to figure out: “What is it that I really want?” Our next chapter took us all the way back to the beginning.

Even now, it can be hard for me to not think about what could have been and all the time I missed with Gayle. What we missed. Well, we have that now.

Letter
to the Editor

By NICK LANE

Equitable president Nick Lane on why preparing for tomorrow—physically, emotionally, and financially—has never been more important.

MY GRANDFATHER WAS A TEACHER in a small town in Tennessee. He made a modest living. Family mattered most to him. And because of that, he dutifully planned and invested for retirement—growing a nest egg that ultimately allowed him to help put me through business school after I left the military.

Without my grandfather’s foresight, I wouldn’t be where I am today. His example still guides me. At Equitable, it’s our mission to help people secure their financial well-being so they can pursue long and fulfilling lives, before and during retirement. For 160 years, we’ve focused first on our clients’ needs, treating their dreams as if they were our own.

But what does that mean today? As you’ve read in this series, retirement is not just another life chapter. With people living longer than ever before, it can be a new book—an opportunity to reinvent yourself, rekindle relationships, and connect with new communities in creative and meaningful ways.

As such, we believe that true retirement readiness goes beyond clear investment strategies alone. It requires a holistic approach, an understanding that one’s financial goals and purpose are deeply interconnected. The financial services industry traditionally has spent a lot of time telling people that they need to save for retirement. That remains good advice. But we haven’t spent as much time asking people what a meaningful life in retirement looks like to them—and those individual visions are at the heart of successful financial planning.

At Equitable Advisors, our Financial Professionals take pride in asking those questions. And in listening to our clients’ answers. We’re here to help people reenvision retirement by taking into account their whole selves. And we’re pleased to be partnering with Atlantic Re:think to expand this important discussion by sharing real retirement stories about real people facing real challenges—and thriving. Preparing for tomorrow, physically, emotionally, and financially, has never been more important.

We are in extraordinary times, dealing with serious and widespread financial, health, and social concerns. The unpredictability created by current events has left many people thinking about what’s next—asking new questions, deeply considering what’s most important to them and their loved ones, and wondering how they can build a financial base that provides for lifelong security and helps facilitate the ways they want to live.

All of that is central to Equitable’s mission, just as it was important to my grandfather. His planning and preparation helped me work hard and achieve what I wanted out of life—maybe it’s only fitting that the best part of my job is helping our clients do the same. Particularly now, the future can seem unknown and daunting. My experience has taught me that people always have the opportunity to realize their dreams by defining their financial and life goals, creating plans to achieve them, and committing to action. That’s how we take control and make progress—moving from uncertainty and anxiety to hope and a brighter tomorrow.