Don’t fade away as you age. Have a ‘badass’ retirement instead.

Retirement has to be thoroughly planned and actively executed

“Have impossible goals. Live on the edge.”

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Retirees are often so worried about the financial aspects of retirement that they often forget about the living part — the badass part.

That’s according to Robert Pagliarini, president of Pacifica Wealth Advisors, and author of the new book “Badass Retirement: Shatter the Retirement Myth and Live With More Meaning, Money, and Adventure.”

“The biggest mistake I see, the most common thing, is that people fade. They approach and enter retirement and just fade. They haven’t thought of the next phase. Days turn into weeks and months and years and they fade away,” Pagliarini said.

Retirement has to be thoroughly planned and actively executed, he explained.

“The ones who enjoy retirement the most are those who are leaving work to do something else. Most retirees don’t have anything next. They don’t figure it out. It takes effort. It takes brainstorming,” Pagliarini said.

“We need to be more aggressive and put forth a lot of energy. Be proactive about planning retirement,” said Pagliarini, who is in his 50s and has worked with preretirees and retirees for more than 25 years as a financial adviser.

His “badass retirement” philosophy came from watching a lot of people succeed and a lot more people fade.

“I’ve been on the front lines of witnessing what seems to work and what doesn’t seem to work,” Pagliarini said. 

“There are those folks who say ‘I’ll just keep working’ even if they don’t want to work. They want something else but they don’t know what it is. There has to be a different approach – and that’s ‘badass retirement,’” Pagliarini said. “Have impossible goals. Live on the edge. That ethos resonated with some people. Others think I’m an idiot.”

With longer life expectancies, retirement can last as long as 40 years. That was unheard of decades ago. While the extra time may be a gift, popular culture still views older adults negatively and that permeates people’s thoughts and actions, he said. 

“We have to rail against ageism. Media and culture suggest we become irrelevant as we age and that really pisses me off. That’s a false belief. It’s a myth,” Pagliarini said. “It doesn’t matter what your age is – it matters what you’re mind-set is.”

For some clients, he suggests taking a part-time retirement to try it on for size — a strategy he also plans to pursue in the coming years.

“Do some more traveling, do some more adventures. See what you like. Then retire full-time,” Pagliarini said.

“When you retire, it’s all about now. We need to front-load retirement. Do as much as you can in the first years. We have to start playing the short game. Travel. Start that nonprofit. Volunteer somewhere,” Pagliarini said.

“Adventures don’t have to cost a lot of money. There’s a big misconception – you don’t have to be rich to have a badass retirement,” he said. “Invest in things that inspire you. You can do these adventures on a budget. It does not have to require a lot of financial resources.” 

Of course, starting to save for retirement early and achieving financial security are all part of achieving a happy retirement. 

“If you want a great retirement, you need financial confidence. If you’re constantly worried about making ends meet, it’s hard to live a great badass life. Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it buys a whole lot of very important things,” Pagliarini said.

But really, the concept of a badass retirement is all about attitude.

“An adventure is living out of your comfort zone. Everyone’s comfort zones are different. Taking risks that you think are risks. Pushing your own comfort zone. That’s where you find the spark and energy in life,” Pagliarini said. “If you’re missing that spark, you’re not going to have that full life.”

“In retirement, we do so much to be safe. We can’t live all of retirement in that bubble. You have to take risks and travel. It’s all about your own comfort zone,” he said.

Pagliarini has climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, ziplined in Alaska and ski-dived over Fiji among other adventures – some of which he’s done with clients. But being a badass in retirement doesn’t necessarily require grappling hooks and oxygen tanks.

Pagliarini said he gets contacted by a lot of retirees inspired by his book or website. One retiree had a medical condition and instead of staying home in her chair, he inspired her to take a walk around the block. 

“That was living on the edge for her — that was outside of her comfort zone. That’s fantastic,” he said.