By Megan Giles, Retirement Transition Consultant. This article first appeared on the Over 60 website [Link: www.oversixty.com.au].
Anne* is looking forward to retirement – the ability to do what she wants when she wants and to operate at a less frenetic pace. She has many things on her bucket list and wonders how she is going to fit everything in. But interestingly, despite everything there is to look forward to, there is one thing that terrifies Anne. What is she going to do without work? She is a successful director of a small not-for-profit, loves her job and in particular watching her team members develop and flourish. To her, her team feels like family. Anne is single and has always worked. She doesn’t have children and so never took maternity leave. For her entire adult life work has been a core focus.
Are you feeling like Anne? Perhaps you too are single, or the main breadwinner in your family and the longest break you’ve taken since university or school is a four-week holiday using all of your annual leave at once. Unsurprisingly you may be feeling a sense of anxiety about letting go of work. Work provides structure, it forms part of our identity, and it helps to create a sense of purpose as others depend on us for decisions, results and input. We might love the thought of never having to answer another urgent late night call or work through the weekend, but with work comes invites to coffee, requests to draw on your expertise and a family who asks how your weekend was each Monday morning. What happens when this is taken away?
Anne hasn’t retired yet but there are two key actions she has taken to help ensure the transition is successful.
Anne has met with a financial advisor to clearly understand her financial position and the retirement lifestyle options that are possible for her. She has also booked 10 weeks of long service leave to ‘practice’ retirement and find out what life without work might be like (without any financial pressure).
If you are feeling nervous about stepping into retirement, you might like to follow Anne’s lead and ‘try out’ retirement. The following provides three suggestions for testing the water and finding a retirement rhythm that is meaningful to you and gets you out of bed each morning!
1. If you are entitled to long-service leave, take it!
You may be thinking about banking your longer service leave and receiving a substantial payout when you do retire, but what about if you could use that time as an opportunity to ‘test run’ retirement. If you do decide to do this, do some planning before your leave starts to ensure you get the most out of the time. You may like to book a holiday, sign up for a new activity and simply potter around the home. What would it feel like if you could go to the gym three mornings a week, look after your grandchild one day per week, and volunteer one afternoon per week? Would that be enough for you – would it create the sense of fulfilment that you are seeking or might you need to keep refining your plan?
2. Learn from others’ experiences.
Talk to others who have retired and ask them some questions. For example what they enjoy most about retirement, the challenges they encountered (perhaps that they did not expect) and the one thing they would do differently? This may allay some of your fears and provide some tips to help make your journey a little smoother.
3. Consider a step-down approach.
Rather than go ‘cold turkey’ and launch straight from full-time work to retirement, especially if work has been all-consuming for you, explore the options available in your organisation to reduce the number of days you work per week. Is it possible to work only two or three days per week and balance the structure of work with time to focus on developing new interests and establish a social network outside of your job?
Not everyone will love their work but everyone should love their retirement – what are you doing to help ensure that your transition is a successful one?
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If you enjoyed this article, you may also be interested in the following blogs; How to Build Your Legacy and Health Focus: How your GP can help as you prepare for life in retirement.