A Hidden Gem in the Asheville Mountains


Many have had the pleasure of visiting Asheville and the surrounding area.  You may have visited during fall foliage season or in the spring when Biltmore’s gardens were in full bloom.  However, there is a lesser known event which occurs in the Asheville area twice a year and may be perfect to explore as you contemplate an important time of your life, retirement.


The concept of lifelong learning is not a new one.  Many take advantage of learning opportunities throughout their lives, completing degree programs at all ages.  However, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) located in the mountains of Asheville, takes that learning to new heights.  The topography of this small corner of the UNC Asheville campus helps and the offerings at the institute offer an amazing variety to please every sense.  One of their most unique offerings is a weekend adventure called, Paths to Creative Retirement.   The Institute hosts a 2 ½ day workshop focused on the many facets of retirement.  While your Financial Advisor typically helps you plan for the financial aspects of retirement, this workshop engages you in the non-financial aspects of retirement.  Consider the following questions from the OLLI website:

  • When should I retire?
  • How will I spend my time after I stop or reduce my work?
  • How will I find purpose and meaning after I retire?
  • How will my identity change in retirement?
  • How will retirement affect my relationships with family and friends?
  • How do I investigate work and volunteer opportunities?

If you’ve never considered these types of questions, or never discussed them with your spouse/partner, they can provide a great deal of contemplation and conversation.  Having delved into the details of the sessions myself, I see great benefit in the sharing of perspectives among the classmates, the introduction of the non-financial considerations of retirement and the completion of some eye-opening exercises.  The goal of this weekend is to get your ideas flowing to allow you to look at your future through different lenses and then to draw upon all the information shared and begin developing your own priorities, plans and paths.


A recent attendee shared that they benefited from having the time away from their normal routine to focus just on these topics and to be prompted throughout the sessions to consider what they want their priorities to be in retirement.  They were also encouraged by panel discussions during the workshop which highlighted executive and professional retirees and the paths their retirement have taken.


During a recent educational conference I attended, one of the speakers discussed the difference between AGE (a chronological factor) and OLD (an attitudinal factor) and concluded that we each need enough purpose to wake up in the morning and enough money to sleep at night.  For some retirees, there is a significant loss of purpose when their career ends and they don’t have an obvious path for meaningful engagements going forward.  As a planner, I encourage my clients to be proactive in exploring what is on the horizon, to consider the challenges, chart their path and then work toward those goals.  The same is true of having a purpose in retirement.  Consider whether attending the Paths to Creative Retirement workshop might be right for you, or contact your advisor to begin to have these discussions about your own future.