There are two very important aspects to preparing yourself for retirement – the financial, and the emotional. Next month we’ll share some important steps to get your financial affairs in order, but this month we’re focusing on how to retire well from an emotional perspective.
Author of The New Retirementality, Mitch Anthony sums it up brilliantly. He says that for retirement, “You need enough purpose to wake up in the morning and enough money to sleep at night.”
The word “retirement” suggests your focus is on what you are retiring from (working) rather than the freedom the next phase of your life can bring.
If planned and prepared for, this “next phase” can be incredibly meaningful. You’re gaining precious time along with the opportunity to spend it as you choose. But if you’ve spent the last three-plus decades working, this can also be a daunting prospect.
If you are a man retiring today at age 60, according to the Office of National Statistics you would have an average life expectancy of age 85 and a one in four chance of living to age 92. For women the respective ages are 87 and 94.
There’s a good chance that your retirement could equate to another half of your life, so it’s important to make it interesting and meaningful – whatever that looks like for you.
Here are six ways you can smooth your way into your retirement years.
1. Take the time to design and plan your retirement
How far in advance you start planning your retirement and the time you’ll need to invest will vary considerably depending on your circumstances.
If you’ve been working flat out for years, with hardly any time for yourself, let alone time for reflection and to consider your next steps, you are likely to benefit from planning your transition several years ahead.
The first step might be deciding when, if, and how you would like to retire.
Financial aspects obviously come into this, as you will need to be confident that you have the financial resources you require in place. There are plenty of people working well into their seventies, simply because they love what they are doing, and they find it fulfilling. Just keep an open mind and avoid making too many assumptions.
If you’ve decided you do want to retire and you’re now gathering some ideas for what comes next, start by asking yourself two simple but important questions:
- What do I enjoy doing that I would love to do more of?
- What dreams have I forgotten I had?
Then you can get to work on creating a bucket list of things you’d love to do and places you’d love to go.
If you have a partner, it’s essential to work on this together.
While having your own interests and independence from each other is important, communicating your hopes, dreams and fears for the future helps ensure you agree. Otherwise, developing different ideas for how you want to spend your future can cause friction down the line.
2. Make retiring a process
Over the past decade, the retirement landscape has shifted significantly. There are now far more flexible options available for how you use your pensions. Fortunately, we have seen a similar shift in employers’ attitudes towards retirement too.
Some employers will now offer a transitionary period over several years, allowing you to work part time and get used to having more freedom before you take the step to stop work completely.
For a business owner, removing yourself from the business gradually can increase the value for sale as it operates without being so dependent on you, or, alternatively, can smooth the succession process if you’re handing over the reins to your team.
You could consider taking on a consultancy role during the early stages of retirement. This gives you an opportunity to share the benefit of your experience while maintaining greater flexibility as a stepping stone to retirement.
Or you could try something completely unrelated that you’ve always wanted to turn your hand to.
3. Get clear on your purpose in life
Many of us tie our identities to what we do professionally. This means that retiring can feel like a bit of an anticlimax when you get there, unless you create a new sense of purpose to make the next stage of your life meaningful.
What are you passionate about? What excites and energises you to get out of bed in the morning? Understanding this can help you avoid the sense of loss many people experience when they retire, and identify a new sense of purpose.
Armed with a clear sense of purpose, you can plan activities that will help you realise your dreams.
4. Be intentional about how you spend your time
Knowing your purpose gives you a clear sense of direction and can guide your life decisions, including how you spend your time.
You may be driven to make a success of something, in which case you will need to find a new project to get stuck into. Or it may be a sense of contribution and helping others that most excites you.
Whatever most energises you, it’s vital that you take personal responsibility for what you’re going to do with your newfound free time. If you don’t, you could find yourself pulled in lots of different directions, leaving you feeling unfulfilled if they aren’t aligned with the way you want to live this next phase of your life.
5. Create a routine to give you structure
For most people, work has provided a steady routine.
Even if you don’t enjoy your work, the need to pay the bills alone is an incentive to get up in the morning. Losing this structure can be challenging during the transition into retirement, so it’s important to replace this with a routine that works for you.
Prior to retirement, people are often concerned about whether they’ll have the energy and be physically fit enough to do the things they want to when they finally get to that stage.
Your routine can be designed to support both your physical and mental wellbeing to ensure you’re in the best shape for this next exciting phase.
6. Build social interactions into your everyday activities
Losing regular social contact is one aspect that people miss the most when they retire. But retiring can be an opportunity to invest in your social connections in a way you’ve not had the time to before.
The key is to build frequent social interactions into your daily lifestyle, whether that’s by joining a club, taking up a new hobby or enjoying a regular walk or coffee meet-up with a local friend. This may also be the perfect opportunity to learn a new skill you’ve been wanting to develop for years, and now you’re able to dedicate the time to doing so in a group environment.
The transition into retirement can be both exciting and daunting, but investing the time to design the next phase of your life will result in a far more fulfilling and meaningful retirement. Rather than seeing retirement as the end of your career, you’re more likely to view it as the start of a new adventure.
At Life Matters, we’re passionate about helping our clients have the best retirement they can. If you’d like to have a chat to find out more about how we can work with you to help you prepare for retirement, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01202 025481.
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