3 Steps to Retirement by Design

NOVEMBER 17, 2015
Vicki Rackner, MD

How do you truly thrive in your retirement years?

Let’s define your working years as a time in which you build wealth; you work for your money.
Retirement is the time in which your money works for you. You enjoy the financial freedom to spend your time any way you wish.

While a life on the golf course is a nice fantasy, most physicians find it gets old very quickly. Before long they miss the many rewards that our medical careers offer.

You can continue to engage in activities that give your life meaning in retirement. Here are three steps to retirement by design.

Step 1: Identify what’s important in your working years.

Score the importance of each part of yourself expressed during your working years.  (1 = not important; 5 = very important)

 


To thrive in retirement, you can create opportunities to express these parts of yourself.

Step 2: Identify what’s missing in your working years.

Here are some parts of yourself that may not have been expressed as much as you would want. How important will they be in retirement?

 


Let your guilt guide your retirement plans. If you regret missing special moments with your kids, set aside time to invest in your relationship with your adult children and your grandchildren during retirement.

Step 3: Get creative.

Poet Mary Oliver asks, “What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” This includes the 20+ years after you hang up your white coat.

You know physicians who have the financial freedom to retire, but continue to see patients because it’s what they love to do.

Here are 10 activities that you could incorporate into your retirement plan:

1. Treat patients.
• Volunteer at a local free clinic
• Go on a medical mission
• Get involved in telemedicine
• Serve as a physicians on a cruise ship. You can get paid to cruise around the world!


2. Take on a leadership role in hospitals and clinics. Physician executives are in demand.

3. Run for public office. Our country can use your experience as we make the transition to the Affordable Care Act.

4. Teach at medical schools, dental schools or nursing schools.

5. Mentor medical students and physicians in early stages of their careers.

6. Serve as an expert in medical malpractice lawsuits.

7. Enroll in courses that you’ve always wanted to learn about, whether it’s learning to tango, grow a tomato, or play tennis.

8. Write a book.

9. Launch a speaking career.

10. Form a foundation and solve a problem that calls to you.

You have dedicated your life to serving others. In retirement you have a chance to serve on your own terms. You can express your passions, control your calendar, and achieve life balance.

That’s how you thrive in your retirement years.
 



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