How do you know when you are ready for retirement?

What does a successful retirement look like to you? The most common questions that I get asked are: Do I
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What does a successful retirement look like to you?

The most common questions that I get asked are:

  1. Do I have enough money to retire?
  2. How long will my money last?
  3. How should the money be invested?

What if I said that these questions should not be the first, but the very last items to be concerned about?

Your understanding and focus to prepare yourself for retirement may need to be turned upside down as a result.

Our experience shows that many people view the bottom figure of their superannuation fund statement like the speedometer on their car dashboard.

If there’s a high number, then you’re travelling fast towards meeting their retirement needs. As soon as that balance hits a magical number target, their destination is reached and off they step into retirement.

The concept of retirement is only a relatively new phenomenon and society has built many myths around what it means to have a meaningful and purposeful retirement. Money is an important part to fund your aspirations, but it’s not the answer to whether you are ready to launch into the next phase of your life.

Scientific evidence points to the fact that a healthy superannuation balance is not the benchmark for whether you should retire today or tomorrow.

According to the American Institute of Stress, retirement is one of the top 10 most stressful times of a person’s life. However, many people view it as a lifelong holiday or a 30-year “long weekend”.

Let’s just touch on a couple of facts from a long list of issues, which illustrate our point further.

Recent research has shown that as people progress towards retirement it is also coinciding with a realisation that they’re spending more time with their partner and looking at their second half of life in a different way. As a result, divorce for this age group is growing fast.

The Australian Institute of Family Studies state that the proportion of divorces ending after 20 years has more than doubled from 13% (1990) to 28% in 2011.

Similarly in England and Wales, the Office of National Statistics have observed that divorce has tripled among people over the age of 60 which is in sharp contrast to the overall trend in other age groups. In the United States, recent research also shows that couples in their 60’s are divorcing at a rate faster than any previous decade.

To provide more perspective about the risks in retirement, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2009) highlight that men over 65 have a higher suicide rate than teenagers.

The most famous suicide note was from Mr. Eastman Kodak. He was the gentleman that successfully founded one of the most successful businesses of all time, and at age 65, left behind a handwritten note ‘my work is done’.

All of these issues are rarely mentioned when it comes to society’s portrayal of retirement.

Psychologists advise that a key ingredient to a successful retirement is knowing what you are about to retire to, rather than just being away of what you are retiring from.

This may be a simple task of writing down thoughts on where you would like to live, how you intend to spend time with family and friends, where you would like to travel, what you will do to maintain your health as well as how you will fulfil your personal purpose, ie. what will be your reason to get out of bed every morning.

You may also wish to diarise a calendar for the ‘ideal year’ (eg. starting with holidays is a good place to start), then an ‘ideal week’, then an ‘ideal day’.

This will give you the opportunity to crystallise how you wish to spend your time through fulfilling activities, rather than just time filling activities.

For those seeking greater guidance, a Retirement Coach service is a good idea.

A number of trained, certified retirement coaches are available in Australia (including myself), that can provide you with an online questionnaire that will examine the key 6 Life Arenas in retirement, and measure your preparedness in each area. They can then provide you with guidance to assist you towards your ideal retirement lifestyle.

Tell us your thoughts below.

  1. Why stay employed until you are worn out. What a bizarre concept.

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      I couldn’t agree more!
      I work as little as possible and enjoy all the other aspects of being alive, active and healthy. I feel for people who have worked full time for decades and then stop work completely. I’m sure it takes some adjusting to. Many enjoy volunteer work.

    • [email protected]  

      I couldn’t agree more!
      I work as little as possible and enjoy all the other aspects of being alive, active and healthy. I feel for people who have worked full time for decades and then stop work completely. I’m sure it takes some adjusting to. Many enjoy volunteer work.

  2. I thought I had planed very well for Retirement, but then I wasn’t counting on the health issues which forced me to Retire 3 years earlier than I had planed. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much effort you put into the planing when through no fault of your own the rules change. I love being Retired and I make every day count even though I did not achieve the out come I planned on financially, it’s what we make of it ourselves!

    • I had a heart attack at 49 yrs of age in 1991, I remember saying to myself in the intensive care where I was for 5 days, if I can get over this I will take more care of myself, I was in a very stressful job, I did get a second change, because I got rid of the stress, my husband & I retired to the south coast from Sydney, that was over 20 yrs ago and we are both in good health, in my opinion money comes second to your health, you only have one life to enjoy.

  3. I thought I had planed very well for Retirement, but then I wasn’t counting on the health issues which forced me to Retire 3 years earlier than I had planed. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much effort you put into the planing when through no fault of your own the rules change. I love being Retired and I make every day count even though I did not achieve the out come I planned on financially, it’s what we make of it ourselves!

    • I had a heart attack at 49 yrs of age in 1991, I remember saying to myself in the intensive care where I was for 5 days, if I can get over this I will take more care of myself, I was in a very stressful job, I did get a second change, because I got rid of the stress, my husband & I retired to the south coast from Sydney, that was over 20 yrs ago and we are both in good health, in my opinion money comes second to your health, you only have one life to enjoy.

  4. When you put your health before money, I never aimed to be the riches person in the cemetery, no good to you there, some people leave it too late.

  5. When you put your health before money, I never aimed to be the riches person in the cemetery, no good to you there, some people leave it too late.

  6. If you’ve been an active person all of your life and suddenly retire without something fulfilling to keep you physically and mentally active, your retirement could be very short, so make certain your will is up to date, to leave your loved ones able to afford to bury you.

    • Phil, I’m a great ‘list’ person and agree you need something to replace work. So make that list of all the things you want to do before you retire and then start to live them.

    • But you see the expectation is that we are to be gainfully employed doing stuff after retirement. In reality we need time to just ‘be’ we don’t have to cave into the implied guilt that is heaped upon being gainfully idle. Catching up with you thoughts, sleeping in, totally reflecting. That is not doing nothing! That is paying attention to who you are as a person. The stuff you may not have given yourself for forty odd years . Just learn to ‘be’ . Let go of things.

    • Robina Have never been and never could be ‘gainfully idle’. If I have nothing to do I am at a loss (has only ever happened once in the past 20 or so years). So when I watch TV I also have a book, a sudoku and my knitting handy. We are all different – which is a good thing 🙂

  7. I’ve never heard of retirement coaches before, but then I didn’t need one – knew exactly what I wanted, love and live life to it’s fullest.

    • I din’t know what I wanted when I was sixteen and I still don’t know but along the way I’ve acquired a husband, children, grandchildren, home, pets etc but I’m still looking for my calling – whatever it was supposed to be.

    • Leone If you are happy it doesn’t matter. When I left work I went to art school for 3 years – that is what I always wanted to do and loved it. Not a calling as such but a hell of a lot better than being in a job I hated.

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