Shaquille O'Neal retires. What happens next?

On Wednesday, June 1, 2011,  Shaquille O'Neal announced he was retiring from the NBA. O'Neal used the social media tool Tout, a real-time video messaging service to make his announcement to fans. Some may ask why this 39 year old basketball superstar would retire now, considering his incredible talent and unquestionable success: fifth all-time with 28,596 points, 12th with 13,099 rebounds and second only to Artis Gilmore among players with more than 2,000 baskets with a .582 field goal percentage. Shaq points to his age and says that it getting very hard to keep performing at the level we've come accustomed to seeing him play at.

Are you sure you know what happens next after you retire?
One question many of us has is "What's next?". It seems even Shaquille O'Neal had the same question. O'Neal's girlfriend stated that he "doesn't know what he's going to do" since announcing his retirement. Hollywood acting and even a UFC fight were suggested for Shaq, but since his announcement we have seen him mostly relaxing; even playing with samurai swords and riding in go-karts. Shaquille most likely doesn't need to worry about financing his retirement so he probably won't need to find a part-time job. However, just like so many other retirees find out after they spend a short time lounging and relaxing they long to be involved in something productive again. Not necessarily for income, but for a feeling of involvement. Many people in our culture define themselves by their job. (Another reason why unemployment is so hard on people) The mere act of going to work may be a habit that provides that person with a sense of self-worth.

Pete Wallen - a great example of living in retirement
A great example of a person remaining active in retirement is Pete Wallen, a tour guide at the Tour-Ed Mine in Tarentum, Pennsylvania. Pete worked as a miner for 17 years and then another 25 years as a  foreman in the mines on the 4pm to 12am shift. After 42 years working in the mining industry, Pete retired in 1992, but he wasn't quite ready to stop working! Today, you can find Pete giving tours nearly every day at the Tour-Ed Mine location for school kids and tourists alike. The job keeps Pete very active in his retirement, and this particular job has allowed him to stay involved in the industry he grew up with.

When planning your retirement consider qualitative factors in addition to income factors. "Qualitative factors associated with retirement may be more important than the financial or quantitative factors. Qualitative factors include involuntary versus voluntary retirement; emotional and psychological factors, such as loss of esteem with loss of job and boredom in retirement; and the decision to relocate or do things that were postponed during the work life (ie. travel or pursue another vocation)." Source: Retirement Planning and Employee Benefits for Financial Planners, 7th edition

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