Some of the biggest regrets of retiring federal employees
COMMENTARY | As they face the realities of life, retirement, and getting older, some federal employees have shared a few regrets with financial planner Dallen Haws.
John only had two more years until retirement and he was very excited.
He had already worked 30 years with the government and was ready to enjoy the fruits of his labors. All he had to do was squeak out another 24 months.
But then the unthinkable happened. Within the course of 12 hours he was informed that his only son had been killed in a car accident and his wife was diagnosed with a terminal illness.
These events changed everything for John.
The Big 4 Regrets
I’ve worked and spoken with thousands of retiring and retired federal employees and most of them have had great lives and great careers. But most of them have regrets as they come face to face with the realities of life, retirement, and getting older.
Here are the four most common regrets I hear from federal employees so that hopefully you can avoid them.
I Wish I’d Had The Courage To Live A Life True To Myself, Not The Life Others Expected Of Me.
The expectations of others are always pressing down on you. Whether from your parents, friends, or coworkers. But what do YOU actually want?
This is one of the most common regrets of all. What dreams did you set aside in efforts to appease those around you? What type of retirement do YOU want? Many people haven’t taken the time to think through their true dreams and desires before it is too late.
I Wish I Hadn’t Worked So Hard
This regret is most common among breadwinners who spent much of their life focused on their careers. While a good career is important for a secure lifestyle and retirement, many regret missing key moments or periods like when their kids were young. And when looking back many realize that much of their time on the career treadmill was spent simply keeping up with the Joneses in income and possessions.
I Wish I Had Stayed In Touch With My Friends
There is nothing like retirement to realize that you left the vast majority of your social circle behind when you left the office. And while money and security is important, many realize that great relationships and friendships are truly what make an amazing retirement. But even if you’ve let old friendships dwindle, retirement can be a great opportunity to bring them back to life or create new ones.
I Wish That I had Let Myself Be Happier
Retirement can be an incredible time of life but it is far from a fix-all. An unhappy person that suddenly retires may have a surge of happiness but will most likely settle back into their old habit of being unhappy. But even if retirement was a fix-all most have regrets of not being happier along the way. Because at some point we all realize that happiness is not something that happens to you but is simply a choice. So let’s choose happiness now regardless of how far you are from retirement or the amount of your TSP balance.
Life is so precious yet unpredictable. We simply have no idea how things are going to go or how long we have. Living a regret-free life comes down to consciously choosing what kind of life you want and making it happen NOW.
Dallen Haws is a financial planner and host of the Haws Federal Advisors “Plan Your Federal Benefits” YouTube channel and Haws Federal Advisors podcast. These regrets were inspired by Haws’ work with feds as well as the book, The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying, by Bronnie Ware.