Life in Retirement - What If I Change My Mind?!

By Megan Giles, Retirement Transition Consultant. This article first appeared on the Over 60 website [Link:].

We get excited about retirement and the thought of relaxing into cycling, yoga, golf or painting, days full of long lunches, and catching up with old friends. You may have even sold the house for a sea-change or invested in that off-road trailer, adamant that you’ll never look back.

But what happens if you change your mind? What if you find there is such a thing as too much relaxing or that the new location is not quite for you. It might be that while you love being a part of a tight-knit community, it’s a little too far from family or that using shared facilities in a caravan park is fine for a couple of weeks at a time but no more! It could even be that you miss the camaraderie and challenge and want to return to the workforce. Will you “lose face” if you have to admit that the dream does not pan out as you planned?


Sally* wants to keep her retirement plans close to her heart for fear that she will have to ‘eat humble pie’ if she has to tell people that she couldn’t make the retirement dream ‘work’. For Sally her goal is to retire at 55. Without a doubt Sally is ambitious and vivacious, but her experience of widely sharing her ideas and plans as a younger woman led to her believing that you need to remain a little guarded as a means of self-protection. Not everyone felt the same sense of conviction in those dreams and were quick to point out any shortcomings.

Rightly or wrongly we tend to worry about what others will think and this can influence how we feel about the decisions we make. You don’t have to wait for a significant life event to act as the catalyst for a changed plan, you can simply say “this is not for me right now". Your decision is enough. But knowing that this is a genuine worry that many people experience, here are some ways to reframe your thinking and communicate your new plans to others.

What fear does this bring up?

The first thing to ask yourself is what is the fear this brings up? Is it that you’ll be seen as “flighty”, you’ll feel yourself a failure or that people will say “I told you so!” Write down these fears, and then flip them. Think of at least one strength or opportunity that could arise from each. For example you may feel that you’re a “failure” because your retirement dream didn’t work out. Take a moment and reflect on what you did achieve. You made a decision, you took action on your dream and that action helped you to realise just what is important to you and what is not.

The fact that you could then recognise that lifestyle did not fully light you up is actually a fabulous strength!

Whose opinion really counts?


"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."- Eleanor Roosevelt


People who are excited to see you “fail” (I use that term very lightly) are usually only compensating for their own fear or their inability to action their dreams. If this is the case, their opinion (and it is only an opinion) really shouldn’t count for much. Try to take it with a grain of salt. Be confident in the knowledge that you got out there and tested the water – you didn’t sit at home just dreaming about what could be.

The people that do count are those closest to you, who support you through thick and thin. Share your stories and adventures with them – what were the highs and the lows. Bring them along on the journey and help them to understand your decision and what the future holds for you. More than likely they will be excited for you!

Know that you will likely change your mind again… and again!

With the life expectancy in Australia now at 84.4 years for women and 80.3 years for men, many people have 20-30 years ahead of them in retirement. That’s a whole ‘lotta’ living in retirement to enjoy! Can you truly imagine that you will still be doing what you’re doing now in 30 years? For some there will be big change and for others only small, but without a doubt we will all alter our path to some degree as we navigate life after work. As they say, the only certainty these days is change.

This is likely just one of many change of plans you will experience in retirement – embrace it and make the most of all of the opportunities that come your way as you never know what you might learn, enjoy or who you will meet!

*Name changed.


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