I have always enjoyed road trips with my family. I always plan them carefully –the best route; where our overnight stops will be; if possible, book motels in advance – and work out what local attractions we would like to see along the way. Additionally, I get the car serviced and estimate the costs of the trip including fuel. When the kids were young, my wife made sure that she had plenty of things to keep them occupied and happy in the car.
I have found that careful planning usually means a great holiday. With no planning, the result will usually be stress and missed opportunities at best, and a disaster of a holiday at worst. I’m sure that many of you agree with this.
Planning for retirement is no different.
For a successful retirement we need to look at all the aspects of retirement and plan for them.
Let’s assume that you have got the money side of things figured out and you will be able to afford a comfortable lifestyle.
Ask yourself the important questions
How are you going to go from working full time for say 40 years to having no paid work?
Fortunately, there is no need to figure out all the details before you retire – you will generally have some time to try different things out. But you should give a lot of thought as to what you would like to try and how you can spend some of your time in activities that interest and satisfy you.
In my 23 years of financial planning, I have seen many people enter retirement. Some of them have no plan for their time other than “relax and do nothing” or “go on a cruise in the Mediterranean”.
They are worthwhile things to do, but after the travel is over and you get sick of relaxing, what have you got left?
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great to have a bucket list of things you want to accomplish in retirement – and you should do them if you can – before any health issues prevent you. But eventually you complete the list and are (hopefully) left with many more years of retirement.
Planning for your retirement
Let’s have a look at some aspects of retirement that are sometimes neglected and what you can do to address them.
Finding purpose in retirement
I have noticed that many men base their identity, their self-worth, on their occupation.
When their work ends, they become a bit lost and, in some cases, sink into depression. This does not generally happen with women, they seem to have it all sorted out, but it can. You need to be engaged in worthwhile and satisfying activities to replace what was your work.
What have you always wanted to do, but never really done? Take some time to think about this
I had a client who worked all his life in a major bank. As retirement approached, he gave the above question some serious thought and realised that he might be able to do something with his life-long interest in insects. He had never been serious about it before. On his retirement he contacted the Queensland Museum and spoke to some people in the entomology department to see if they had any volunteer work available. They did! He found himself in the museum a few days a week helping to catalogue specimens by reference to textbooks. He eventually started going on museum expeditions to western Queensland to collect samples. He loved it!
I have had other clients who have obtained a pilot’s license or gotten into art.
What might be your passion?
Stopping work may lead to a loss of social interaction.
This can result in isolation – leading to depression. It is important to be engaged with your community. You may be able to offer help to community groups who could use some of your skills. Take the time to think about the skills that you have – or the skills that you can develop. Look around your community to see what you can do as a volunteer.
Go Volunteer is a great place to start and see what volunteering is out there, the site covers across all of Australia.
Studies have shown that volunteering decreases stress and helps to make you happier!
Keeping your brain active is a crucial part of staying mentally healthy and enjoying life.
Some years ago, I had a neighbor – a recently retired policeman who had always been interested in history. He decided to study for a bachelor’s degree in modern history. He said that he found that he really enjoyed the study and that an added bonus was that there was no pressure on him to excel at the study, or even pass, as he was not relying on it to get a job. (Mind you, I think the cost of the degree may have put a bit of pressure on!)
If you have an interest that you would like to learn more about, there are many opportunities to learn at low costs. One place to start is the University of the Third Age. Check out your local courses and costs at U3A Online.
Go back to work
Some retirees find that they really miss paid work.
There is nothing wrong with going back to work or working part-time if that is what you want to do. It may well be the best thing for you.
Retiring can be a shock to your system! Don’t take it for granted that you will be fine.
Many people experience challenges in adapting to life after work.
The key is to be ready with a plan – not necessarily a detailed plan, but a plan to make the best of the opportunities that are available to you and to deal with the challenges that are bound to come.
Written by Steve Baker