Retirement means starting a new chapter of your life, one that gives you the freedom to create your own story, as you decide exactly how you want to spend your time. While retirement may not be part of your immediate plans, there are advantages to giving some thought as to what retirement looks like for you and how to best position yourself, well before you leave the workforce behind.
A time of profound change
Even setting aside the huge financial implications of leaving a regular salary behind, retiring from work represents one of the biggest life changes you can experience.
For most people, the freedom of being able to do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it, is pretty enticing. However, it is quite common to have mixed feelings about retiring, particularly as you get closer to retirement. What we do for a living often defines us to some extent and leaving your job can mean a struggle with how you perceive yourself as well as how others view you. Coupled with the desire for financial security in retirement and the need to make your retirement savings last the distance, you have a lot to be dealing with.
So, let’s look at the things you need to be thinking about sooner rather than later, from an emotional and practical perspective, to ensure your retirement is everything you want it to be.
Forge your own path
Don’t be tied to preconceptions of what retirement is all about. Retirement has evolved from making a grand departure from the workplace with the gift of a gold watch to a more flexible transition that may unfold over several years. Equally, if the idea of a clean break appeals to you then that’s okay too and you just need to plan accordingly.
The same applies to your timeframe for retirement. The idea that you ‘have’ to retire at a certain age is no longer relevant given advances in healthcare and longer lifespans. If work makes you happy and fulfilled, then it can make sense to delay your departure from the workforce.
Planning how to spend your time
It sounds obvious but you’ll have more time on your hands so it’s important to think about what you want to devote that time too. A study found that 97 percent of retirees with a strong sense of purpose were generally happy and satisfied in retirement, compared with 76 percent without that sense.i Think about what gives your life meaning and purpose and weave those elements into your plans.
If you are part of a couple, it’s critical to ensure that you are both on the same page about what retirement means to you. This calls for open and honest communication about what you both want and may also involve some degree of compromise as you work together to come up with a plan that meets both of your needs.
There’s a myriad of practical considerations once you have started to plan how you’ll spend your time.
Here are a few things you may wish to consider:
- Where do you want to live? Do you want to be close to a city or are you interested in living in a more coastal or rural area? Are you wanting to travel or live overseas for extended periods?
- What infrastructure and health services might you need as you age? Are these services adequate and accessible in the area you are thinking of living in?
- What hobbies and activities do you want to be involved in. Do you need to start developing networks for those activities in advance?
- Who do you want to spend time with? If you have children and grandchildren, think about what role you’d like to play in their lives upon retirement.
The best laid plans…
Of course, with all this planning it’s also important to acknowledge that the best-laid plans can go astray due to factors beyond your control. It’s important to keep an open mind and be adaptable. While redundancy or poor health can play havoc with retirement dreams, it’s still possible to make the best of what life throws at you.
And of course, we are here to help you with the financial side of things to ensure that retirement is not only something to look forward to, but a wonderful chapter of your life once you start to live out your retirement dreams.