the race of retirement
by John Brummitt
Find out more about Free Will Baptist Board of Retirement at www.boardofretirement.com.
Perhaps you shook your head as you read the title of this article. After all, race and retirement are two words that don’t seem to belong together. What do they have in common? Obviously, they both start with the letter “r.” But wait, these words have something else in common! You can’t do either well without preparing for them in advance!
Professional athletes don’t wake up on the morning of an Olympic race, walk casually onto the track, and expect to perform well. They spend years preparing their bodies for the event.
The same is true for retirees. You can’t walk away from your last day of work and just expect everything to fall into place for the rest of your life. Retirement is not a sprint. It is a marathon.
According to experts, in order to prepare for a marathon, you need at least 16 weeks of heavy training, and to finish well, you need to condition your body for years. Retirement planning is much the same way. You begin saving many years out, and if you really work hard and stay with your “training” you will be prepared when the time comes. If you start early, and build your financial “muscles” slowly and consistently, the last few years of training will seem more like second nature than brutally hard work.
Anyone who has ever trained for a running event knows you need the right equipment to compete. Proper running shoes are a must! You can’t compete in a pair of wingtips or high heels. You will not make it.
The same goes for retirement. Your equipment? Finding the proper place for your retirement funds. This is a requirement for a good financial finish! Free Will Baptists employees have the option of participating in the Board’s retirement plan, which has shown excellent growth over the past 40 years.
Once you have your equipment in place, you must establish a training regimen to get you in shape for competition. Runners train for a specific event. If you plan to run a marathon—or any event that lasts a long time—you must train your body for endurance. You must be prepared for the extended duration of physical exertion.
Retirement is the same. Life expectancy continues to increase, turning our marathons of retirement into ultra-marathons. We need to make sure our retirement portfolio is “conditioned” to endure until the end of the race.
Next comes the hard part—the actual running and training! It is easy to say, “Let’s run three miles; it will be good for us!” But it is much harder to put on the shoes and hit the road. To be good at something takes sacrifice and determination. When things get tough, we need to be able to push through the pain because we understand the benefits of reaching the finish line.
It takes a truly dedicated person to say, “I love getting up at 5:30 a.m. to run” with a smile on his or her face. But runners who make a commitment to training and stick to it will have no problem finishing well on race day. They will leave the less committed racers in the dust behind them.
As we prepare for retirement, we must sacrifice some things our retirement savings could buy. But if we stick to our regimen and keep our eye on the goal, we will have no problem when the day of retirement arrives.
After all the preparation, planning, training, and sacrifices, we come to the race. Race day is always a little nerve-wracking. You never know what to expect, and you have butterflies in the pit of your stomach. You wonder, “Should I have done something differently?” “Am I ready for this?”
You line up with all of the other racers. You try to remain calm and focus on the challenge at hand. The starting pistol goes off, and you begin to run. You find your stride, the adrenalin rush starts, and suddenly you feel the burst of confidence that comes with good training.
Retirement comes with the same butterflies. The transition from professional life is frightening, even after years of work and preparation. You celebrate with your coworkers at your retirement party, cash your final check, and suddenly find yourself on the starting line of a new adventure—a marathon that can last for 20 to 40 years. Yet when the “training” comes through and the first annuity check arrives, you find your “stride” and suddenly feel confident. “I can do this. This is what I trained for. I’m ready for The Race of Retirement.”
About the Writer: An avid runner, John Brummitt is the business manager for the FWB Board of Retirement. To learn more about retirement options, visit www.boardofretirement.com.