Life and Retirement: Reflecting on the Year that Was

By Megan Giles: Retirement Transition Consultant

The year is drawing to a close and the ‘Silly Season’ is all around us. If you’re anything like me, you’re busily planning for festive celebrations, catching up with friends and family, and thinking about what to do with those lazy days between Christmas and New Years. The days are going by in a blur. But what about The Year That Was? Did it pan out as you expected?

Whilst life doesn’t magically re-set on 1 January, this time of year does provide a lovely opportunity to stop and reflect. So often we get caught up in the day-to-day living that we forget to consider whether how we are tracking against our goals and those things we set out to achieve back in January. I know that for some of you, you will be thinking ‘goals and targets, no thanks, I left that stress behind in the workplace!’ and will avoid associating goals with retirement. I appreciate this sentiment, but I would argue that it’s important to have something to work towards or to look forward to in retirement, something that gives a sense of direction and purpose to our days.

Image: Lady on bench reflecting on retirement

So think about this way, back in January did you set out to accomplish anything specific this year, and did you achieve this? Alternatively, if you did not set any specific goals, can you confidently say that you have gone about your days in a way that felt meaningful to you, that provided a sense of connection with others and create a sense of excitement or enjoyment?

It’s not necessarily the big ticket items such as an overseas trip, that define a year well lived (though that once in a lifetime trip can be immensely satisfying and create wonderful memories for years to come), but more importantly, it’s the day-to-day experiences of spending time in a way that is aligned to your goals and your sense of satisfaction.

This will look different for each of us and so take a moment and consider your past year.

  • The Positives

o   What are you most proud of in the last 12 months?

o   What was the single best thing that happened this past year?

o   How did you surprise yourself (in a positive way)?

o   With whom were your most valuable relationships?

  • The Opportunities for Change

o   What was on your ‘to do’ list in this past year that you didn’t quite get around to doing?

o   What was the single most challenging thing that you experienced?

o   What did not go as expected?

o   Who or what was the single thing that drained your energy?

Building upon this, consider what you learned in this past year and also how you’ve grown. In addition to this consider the things that you would like to do more of, and those that you would like to do less of to ensure a truly fulfilling retirement. From that, what are your top five priorities for the coming year?

Next, take each one of those goals and create an action towards making each one a reality in your retirement. For example, if you’d like to start art classes, do some research to find out what is offered in your area, or find a friend so that you can be ‘newbies’ together.  If you’d like to visit your family more often, get out the calendar and mark some dates in there, or sign up to get sale notifications from an airline so that you can take advantage of discounted flights.

Don’t let another year pass you by – step into the New Year on the front foot and make it a truly exciting year. Better yet, don’t even wait for the New Year to start, take action towards just one of your goals today - this year is not done yet!


In planning for a holiday we always think “we need to go there” and “we should see that” but when Day One of our holiday arrives, we draw a blank…What were all of those things we were going to enjoy? In the busyness of life they’ve slipped our mind.

Don’t let this happen to your retirement. Download the My Retirement Planner and start capturing those ideas and inspiration so that you’re ready to step into retirement with gusto!

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