By Megan Giles: Retirement Transition Consultant.
First published by Over Sixty [Link: www.oversixty.com.au].
One advantage that men have when it comes to retirement is that they are typically in a stronger financial position when compared with women. Without the expectation to take time out of their careers to raise a family or care for others, more often than not they have done all of the 'right' things; worked hard, looked after their family and have a healthy superannuation balance. They have the financial side of retirement planning sorted, but often haven't stopped to think about the non-financial aspects. For example what are they going to actually do with their days? There is only so much golf one can play, and what if you don't enjoy golf?!
As a result, some fellows retire and find themselves at a loss because they haven’t stopped to plan for what life in retirement might look and feel like. With that, a sense of disbelief can develop at seeing their wife pop from coffee to gym to volunteering and book club can create a sense of envy. Their diary is full and their social network seems ever-expanding and it is not completely unexpected that this sense of disbelief develops.
James had his own business. He was passionate about delivering great value to his customers but it meant long days and regular weekend work. At first retirement was a relief – he could sleep easy and was at home each evening for dinner.
But what else happened? The phone stopped ringing. People no longer need repairs undertaken, they found a new expert to seek advice from and charities no longer sought donations! He also realised that he missed the regular afternoon chats with the next door shop owner. Not only did he become bored, but his confidence took a hit also. It seemed that people had forgotten him and he was no longer needed. It was particularly disheartened that his wife was so busy with her social engagements whilst he regularly found himself lonely and at home during the days. This was not the retirement he was expecting.
Unlike women, who tend to be more social beings, men often have an extensive network of acquaintances through work but not always a strong circle of friends. Retirement can therefore be a dangerous time as without work those connections can start to drift away.
So what can you do to ensure that you remain connected and relevant to the people around you in retirement? Below are four suggestions you may like to try:
1. Develop a hobby before you retire
- Don’t wait until day one of retirement to join a community group, sports club or interest group
- An interest outside of work will ease the transition and provide something to look forward to in retirement
- Test the waters and find what is right for you – find a group that is a good fit for your interests, skills and experience (make it something that you look forward to being a part of)
2. Plan activities for the first month
- Ensure you have a degree of structure to your days as you adjust to life in retirement
- There is no need for a hectic schedule (after all, that’s one of the appealing aspects of retirement!) but ensure you have things to do and people to meet each week
- Meet and do things with a variety of people to maintain your social network
3. Team up with a retirement buddy
- Find someone who is retiring at the same time as you and arrange to meet up regularly as you transition
- Create some solidarity in knowing that someone else is going through the same thing as you
- Make it fun, for example grab a beer together or head to the footy!
4. Get out of the house each day
- Even if it’s just to buy milk. Ensure that you are getting some fresh air and interacting with someone every day
- You never know who you may bump into whilst out and where that may lead – e.g. a BBQ invite, project, event or simply a good laugh!
What good is all of the superannuation in the world if you don’t have someone to share your experiences and adventures with? Meeting new people often requires us to step out of comfort zone initially (particularly for the introverts amongst us!), but the result will be worth the effort. With 20-30 years of retirement ahead of most of us, make it a retirement you will love to live!
Not sure where to start in terms of planning for the transition into retirement? Download your free Retirement Planning Questionnaire.
It's more than just a quiz, it's an action-focused tool that will help you take action today (not wait until the day you retire!) to create a retirement that you will love to live!
If you enjoyed this article you may also like to read Help! My husband has not adapted to retirement well at all and Checklist for planning your social life in retirement or listen to Megan's interview with John & Garry of 2UE Talking Lifestyle Radio (below).