Is Fear Stopping You Actioning Your Retirement Dreams?

By Megan Giles, Retirement Transition Consultant.

You’re thinking about retirement and have plenty of actions on your dream list. Maybe it’s down-sizing the family home, maybe it’s taking up art classes, perhaps it’s jumping out of an aeroplane at 15 000 feet. You can’t wait to walk out of your office for the last time – no more worrying about reports at night or dealing with incompetent colleagues. Life will be blissful!!

But then fear starts to creep into your mind, e.g. ‘what if we don’t have enough money to retire comfortably and do all of the things that we want to’, ‘what if my husband and I drive each other crazy spending too much time together’, ‘what if I end up spending all of my time babysitting the grandchildren’, ‘what if I become bored’… And suddenly there’s no way you’re going to retire – you’ve convinced yourself that life after work is going to be a disaster!

Image: Retirement can bring up fears for many women and be quite paralysing.

Rather than assuming that the worst case scenario is going to eventuate and letting those fears quash the exciting possibilities that retirement presents, let’s tackle them head on! Let’s acknowledge that the fear is real for you, articulate what is driving it, and then think about what you can do to prevent those fears from becoming a reality. As the saying goes ‘life is what you make of it’ and I’m sure we’d all much rather create a life in retirement that is fulfilling and lights us up each day.

I know that different people hold different fears about life after work (and some none at all – how lucky!), however, I thought that we should work through the examples above, creating simple actions that one can take to counter them and prevent them from eventuating. We can each shape our own future through the action that we take. You can then apply the same approach to any concerns or anxieties that you may be feeling.

Interestingly, sometimes just writing down a fear can be enough to dispel it. We can catastrophise ideas in our heads and it’s not until we see it on paper and can look at it more objectively that we realise that it’s not as problematic as we thought.

Fear: We won't have enough money to life comfortably.

  • Seek the advice of a trusted financial advisor who can provide a clear picture of where you stand and what is possible for you. Knowledge is power and it’s difficult to make informed decisions without the necessary information
  • Remember, it’s never too early to start planning for your retirement, and equally it’s never too late – informed action can make a positive difference in even just a couple of years

Fear: My husband and I will drive each other crazy spending too much time together

  • Take the time to sit down and talk about what is important to each of you in retirement and how these elements align
  • Work out what it is that you do together and separately and ensure that there is a balance between the two
  • Create some common language so that if you are feeling a lack of personal space, you can let the other know in a respectful (non nagging!) way
  • Have this conversation before you retire and then be prepared to continue the conversation and adjust as you go

Fear: I’ll spend all of my time baby-sitting the grandchildren

  • For some this is retirement bliss and for others not so much – there is no right or wrong simply what works for you
  • Establish boundaries with your children in terms of how you’d like to contribute to looking after the grandkids, e.g. only on an ad hoc basis or one day a week. Respect your own time and plans and then others will too
  • Often people are more understanding of your choices if they understand why. Explain to your children why you can’t be their day care centre, e.g I don’t want to have regular responsibilities because I want to travel and don’t want to let you down, ‘I can only manage one day a week as otherwise I am too exhausted to keep up with my other commitments’

Fear: What if I become bored?

  • Can you ‘test drive’ retirement. Do you have the opportunity to take long service leave to see what retirement might look and feel like to you?
  • Create a weekly schedule and ensure that you have at least one meaningful thing to do each day
  • Actually start that new hobby! Rather than just talk about the art classes that you’d like to take, head to your local art store, find out about the classes they offer and sign up!

These are just a couple of ways to counter the fears you may have. You may have your own ideas and I would encourage you to explore them and take action. I’d also love for you to share your actions with me by commenting below or commenting on my Business Facebook Page.

If you approaching retirement or starting to think about it, and worried about the "what's next', wondering:

  • How you’ll stay relevant and connected to people
  • What to do with the amazing skills, energy and ideas you have
  • How to prevent slowing down too soon and getting old before your time

you may be interested in a one-on-one planning session. I would love the opportunity to work with you and you can find out all of the details by visiting my For Individuals page.