The Transition to Retirement - Asking ROUK?

By Megan Giles, Retirement Designer for Women.

When was the last time you stopped to ask someone ‘ RUOK’  or ‘how are you going’? RUOK day is today, the second Thursday in September, and a national day of action reminding people to regularly check in with others. It’s amazing the difference that a smile, a laugh or knowing that someone cares can make to your day!

Appreciating that there are many women (and men!) who struggle to find their way in retirement - perhaps suffering from a loss of direction, camaraderie or sense of purpose that work previously provided, this can be a really important question to ask.

Maybe you’ve noticed that someone has not been their usual self or perhaps they’ve been a little withdrawn since stepping into retirement. Have you stopped to think what might be going on for them? Perhaps they struggle to fill their days in a meaningful way after a busy working career or they are unsure about how to get involved in new activities. They might be experiencing a sense of loneliness without the daily interaction with others that work provides (or requires!).

 Asking RUOK is a great, yet simple, way to show that you care and to start the conversation. For someone it might be just the question they need to be asked at just the right time. It might be what it takes to get them back on track and into their groove in retirement.

Whilst it’s a powerful question to ask, it can be a daunting topic to broach. If you feeling a little unsure about what to do if the person you ask does respond and say that they are struggling, here are a couple of tips to help:


  • You may like to start the conversation more generally and then ask an open-ended question such as ‘what’s been happening’ or ‘You don’t seem like yourself and I’m wondering are you ok? Is there anything that’s contributing?

Listen without judgement

  • Take the time to listen to the response, recognising that it may take a couple of starts to explain what’s really going on (it’s a brave thing to admit that one’s struggling)
  • Recognise that with feelings there is no right and wrong, it simply the emotions one experiences in response to a situation or event

Encourage action

  • Rather than rushing to solve the problem for the other person, ask them what they plan to do
  • Let them know that there is support available
  • Questions that you may like to ask include ‘What do you think might help your situation?’ or ‘Have you considered making an appointment with your doctor/counsellor/financial planner?’

Follow up             

  • Give them a couple of days to a week and get back in touch
  • Find out if they managed to take their first step
  • If they haven’t been able to take action yet, find out what you can do to help make this happen, e.g. ‘ would you like me to make that appointment for you’?
Image: Asking others RUOK and providing support.

RUOK Day is a fabulous reminder to check in with those around us and show that we care. It is a particularly pertinent question to ask as we acknowledge that the transition into retirement is a major life change that some will navigate more easily than others. And don’t ever think that you’ve missed the boat – don’t wait for that one day a year to ask the question. This is a really powerful question that you can ask any day, anytime, anywhere.  

For more information and resources visit

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!