By Megan Giles: Retirement Transition Consultant
First published by Over Sixty [Link: www.oversixty.com.au]
Research demonstrates that connectedness to others and resilience in responding to challenges have a greater correlation with happiness in retirement than money. In preparing for retirement it is therefore important to explore the non-financial components. This includes consideration of things like what your day-to-day life in will retirement look like, how you will achieve a sense of purpose and accomplishment, and who you will enjoy spending time with.
The startling reality is that the majority of people spend more time planning for a four week holiday than they do a 20-30 year retirement. Just think about the effort that goes into planning a holiday – likely you have itineraries, booking references and travel guides littering your dining table! So why don’t we plan for retirement? And more importantly, what happens if we don’t plan effectively for retirement?
Some people sail into retirement and never look back, and that is fantastic! The risk is, however, that without a considered plan in place, retirement can end up being long, lonely and isolating. With the current life expectancy ever increasing, this is not a healthy state to be in for 20-30 years.
The good news is that there are professionals who specialise in supporting individuals to transition from full-time work to retirement. They take a holistic approach and focus on elements such as health and well-being, family relationships and community involvement. They provide tools, resources and a structured approach along to help you navigate the transition. To understand how you might benefit from working with a retirement transition specialist, I wanted to share the journey of Jill*. I recently interviewed Jill and I know that her story will resonate with many of you.
How much planning for retirement did you do?
Zip! The truth is that I never formally retired. I slowed down over a ten year period but each time a role or project ended, the next opportunity would always appear. Unfortunately the next project hasn’t arrived and so I’ve effectively retired without realising it. Without a firm end date, I didn’t plan.
What didn’t you expect in retirement?
That it would be so lonely. My husband is still working (and has no intention to stop anytime soon) and we live on a rural property. I had assumed that by this stage in our lives we would have children and perhaps grandchildren living nearby and taking over the running of the property. Our children, however, live interstate or overseas and have no plans to return. Living on a property makes it challenging to connect with others. Neighbours don’t just pop by for a coffee and heading into town requires effort and planning. Couple that with poor internet connection and I have found that the ways to interact with others is limited.
Recognising that retirement didn’t pan out as anticipated, what did you do about this?
I was fortunate that I could afford to retire. My challenge, however, was that I lacked a sense of purpose in my days. In response to this, one thing I did was connect with Megan Giles, Retirement Designer for Women who helped me to pause, re-group and get clear on what I want to get out of retirement.
An advertisement for a webinar she was facilitating (Staying relevant and connected in life after work) popped up on my Facebook news feed and I registered for this, followed by a short series of one-on-one planning sessions focused on my circumstances. I now receive her fortnightly newsletters and updates via her Facebook Page.
What were the benefits of working with a retirement specialist?
I would highly recommend working with someone such as Megan Giles. Through her questionnaires, case studies and my individual sessions I have been forced to ponder things that perhaps I was trying to avoid, such as the divergent views on retirement that my husband and I hold and how to reconcile these. As an example, I often feel confined living on our property and so my initial instinct was to sell our property. I respect my husband’s desire to remain here therefore I accept that selling is not an option for us. Through my retirement planning sessions, however, I realised that monthly trips away are a viable option.
A really powerful activity has been capturing my thoughts on paper. When I see my responses to Megan’s questions in black and white, the actions I needed to take became really obvious. A critical step has been to sit down with my husband to discuss and understand what we both want out of life over the next 20 years. Our outlooks are different, but once we could each articulate this, we could plan accordingly.
What can someone do to better plan for a retirement that lights them up?
Utilise the services of a retirement transition specialist – there are some great tips and tools out there. Why not book a free 15 minute Virtual Cuppa with me whereby we can discuss any worries you may have about retirement and determine the best course of action for you.
What final key advice does Jill offer to people approaching retirement?
Take time to plan! Sit down with your significant other and discuss what retirement will truly look like for the two of you (e.g. for me I assumed that my husband would actually want to retire at some stage – I didn’t read the fine print for marrying someone who lives on the land!). Have a clear picture of what retirement will look like, and ensure that you’re both in that picture. If you are retiring before your partner, use that time wisely and creatively knowing that enjoyable time together is on the horizon.
If you’re feeling a sense of disconnection in retirement, know that you’re not alone. The good news is that your story hasn’t been written yet. By understanding what is important to you, your fears, the opportunities that retirement presents, and the legacy you want to leave, you can take focused action to ensure that you step out of the workforce on a positive note and that your next chapter is exciting and fulfilling.
Recognising that you are anxious and asking for help is a brave thing to do. Working with a retirement specialist can help to ensure that you have the tools, resources and strategies to create a retirement you love to live. With 20+ years ahead of you in retirement, that’s a whole ‘lotta’ living to do, so don’t just get by, get passionate!
I wish you the very best on your journey,
*Name changed. Photo is a stock image.
If you enjoyed this article you may also like to read Planning for retirement – is it only about the money, money, money? and Is happiness really what we’re all after in retirement?