Planning for retirement – is it only about the money, money, money?

By Megan Giles, Retirement Transition Consultant.

Long gone are the days of a short retirement kicking back in the recliner. People are living longer with the average life expectancy of women in Australia extending to 84.4 years and men to 80.3 years (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2015).  When people start to think about retirement, they realise that they have another third of their life ahead of them. That’s a whole lot of living to be done!

As such, the typical approach to retirement planning needs to change. Well-informed and robust financial planning is critical and starting early is the best way to position yourself for greatest flexibility in deciding how and when you will retire. If you haven’t already done this, I strongly advise that you seek the advice of a financial planner in your local area.

Further to that though, I believe that retirement should be holistic. That is, that it includes the social and psychological aspects as well.  There is much research to show that preparing psychologically and emotionally for retirement leads to increased life satisfaction (Dennis & Fike, 2012).  The people who take control and proactively plan for life in retirement tend to feel more fulfilled, engaged and content. Who wouldn’t want that?

What might this mean to you? It means complementing your financial planning with consideration of how you’ll step into this next chapter and what you’ll actually do on a day to day basis.

For example, many people have saved and invested well and plan an exciting overseas holiday to kick off their retirement, but don’t necessarily ask the question ‘and then what...?’ What happens after you return, unpack the suitcases and souvenirs, and share some photos? What fills your time and enables you to continue to lead a meaningful life?

In planning effectively for retirement, it is important to ask what you want to get out of this next chapter. To help you with this, you may like to ask yourself questions such as:

Planning for retirement - focusing on you, your purpose, your identity and understanding any assumptions that may be limiting your possibilities.
  • Your purpose: How do I want to spend my time when I leave the workforce full-time?  It is with family, volunteering, exploring a new hobby, or travelling the world. It might be that your enjoy working for your organisation or in your industry and want to remain engaged, albeit in a different capacity, e.g. mentoring or, advising
  • Your identity: How will I define myself in retirement? When you are asked what you do during a casual conversation at a BBQ, how will you respond if work no longer consumes the majority of your waking hours?
  • Your legacy: How do I want to be remembered, be it in the broader community or within your circle of family and friends?
  • Your alignment: What does my significant other want out of retirement? Are our goals in sync?
  • Your assumptions: What do I fear about retirement and what do I see as the opportunities?

Take some time to think about what is important to you. Better yet, engage your significant other(s) in this discussion. In doing so, you are on your way to proactively shaping the type of lifestyle you want. By understanding what you value and identifying potential challenges, you can start to take targeted steps towards creating a lifestyle in retirement that lights you up.

I’d love to hear what your responses are, or to know any additional questions you asked. Post in the comments section below or visit the Facebook page.

The road to retirement can be a little bumpy, so rest assured if you are feeling a little lost and overwhelmed, you’re not alone. BUT, there are things you can do to smooth the way and create a retirement that you are excited to grasp with both hands!

Want to know how? Why not join me for my Bite Sized Retirement Transition Video Series! These six videos are practical, action-focused, and most importantly short & sweet. They are all only 3 minutes long because whilst planning is important, I know that you’ve got life to get on with!

Sign up using the link below and the first video will be on its way to your inbox!


Dennis, H. & Fike, K.T. (2012). Retirement planning: New context, process, language and players. The Oxford Handbook of Work and Aging (Ed. W. C. Borman & J. W. Hedge).

Australian Bureau of Statistics (2015). 3302.0 - Deaths, Australia, 2014. URL:, accessed 19 April 2016.