Investing in yourself for retirement – you are your own number one asset

By Megan Giles, Retirement Transition Consultant

We spend much of our time at work strategising and planning to ensure that projects are delivered on time, products are developed to a high quality and we are responsive to the needs of our clients. When we talk about strategic plans in the workplace we often focus on the five year future, detailing what an organisation’s priorities will be and how it will direct its energies.

We spend all this effort to make sure we get things just right at work, so why do we not do it with our own number one asset ‘ourselves’? This is particularly relevant when we start to think about retirement. Do we stop and think to make sure that we are happy, or more importantly that we will lead a meaningful life once we exit the full time workforce? With Australians living longer than ever before, it begs the question ‘why on earth do I not have a plan like this for my life past the nine-to-five?’

Image. Taking time to plan for your retirement.

Start with the big picture

It’s not necessary to have your retirement planned to the day – after all, retirement is supposed to be about relaxing and making the most of that new-found freedom. It is, however, valuable to have a sense of what you enjoy, what you’d like your priorities to be, if there are any non-negotiables, and how these ideas fit in with the people close to you. Being clear on these big picture elements means that you can then take focused action to bring those ideas to life and create a lifestyle that is fulfilling and meaningful to you.

What does this look like in action?

As an example, many people want to spend more time with their family. But what specifically do they mean by that? Is that babysitting the grandchildren on a weekly basis, re-connecting with long-lost relatives, or regular family dinners? Spending time with one’s family can mean very different things to different people and all are incredibly valid goals. What is important is to know what it means to you.

Similarly, you may have a burning desire to take those golf lessons or become more involved in your local not-for-profit. But until you start to define your interests or dreams, it’s easy to keep putting off until ‘tomorrow’, and by doing that, ‘tomorrow’ may never come around. Your dreams don’t have to cost the earth, often it’s the simple things that give us enjoyment and fulfilment! 

Rather than just thinking about your dreams, why not articulate them and set the wheels in motion to make them happen? Planning doesn’t mean writing a 20 page document, it simply means stopping for a moment to reflect on what’s important to you and how you can bring those ideas to life.

I feel really selfish focusing on just me – what about the other people in my life?

We often feel guilty about spending what seems like ‘indulgent’ time focusing on ourselves because we tend to put the needs of others first. However, when you are feeling energised and in alignment with your values, it enables you to be there for others in your best way possible.

Focus on yourself initially but don’t leave your significant other out. Once you are clear on what is important to you, have the conversation with your spouse or partner to explore and determine how and when your goals will fit in with their plans to be able to move forward together.

So grab a pen and piece of paper and take some time to start articulating how you would like to see your life in retirement unfold.

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!


If you enjoyed this article, you may also be interested to read Why retirement planning is different for women and Life and Retirement: Reflecting on the Year That Was.