‘Retirement can be challenging, yes, but change also brings great opportunity’

Sep 14, 2020
Having a plan in place for retirement will make things so much easier and less stressful! Source: Getty

Transitions from one phase of our life to another are inevitable, particularly as we get older. Such periods of change may be rather challenging, but they also provide great opportunity.

Transitioning to reduced work or none at all, finding yourself in an empty nest after decades of looking after dependents, moving home, changes in health status – these are all periods that will impact on our lives. How effectively we deal with these transitions will largely be determined by how well we plan for them.

Planning is the secret to retaining control for as long as we live. It enables us to make the most of the choices that are available across all phases of later life. But, there are essential elements for us to consider in order to plan effectively so that we successfully transition from one phase of life to another.

We must firstly identify what’s personally important to us. This involves reflecting on our priorities across a number of areas. Our relationships of importance with partners, family and friends and being in a position to nurture and maintain them. The activities we value be they work, recreational, vocational, formal and informal. Where we live, where we want to call home now and possibly later. How we best sustain our physical and mental health – determining what environment and resources are most conducive to optimal outcomes.

Our plans must be adaptable, something that we’re constantly renewing and reviewing because our circumstances will inevitably change through different stages and so too will our needs and desires. What seems so certain when we’re 50 may be off the agenda at 60, and things will emerge that we want to pursue that had not occurred to us before.

The identification of what’s personally important to us may appear an easy task however, only with great depth will our reflection reveal what it is we truly value most. Investing the time to do this will pay dividends.

The word ‘retirement’ is arguably starting to disappear, because retirement signals an end point, the end of productivity closely followed by deterioration. Now we have the opportunity, and if we plan well, the capability to go again and that’s a very exciting proposition. Individually, the more proactive we are the more control we can maintain over our employment opportunities.

The earlier we ascertain whether our existing organisation will support our future the more empowered we will be.  If prospects are unlikely then we move to identifying workplaces that will provide ongoing opportunities. Perhaps consider how your expertise and corporate knowledge can continue to benefit the organisation in a modified role, either part-time or in a less senior job.

Because we are living longer today than at any time in history family roles are much more fluid. There are more four generation families now than ever before with great-grandparents having fun with, caring for and mentoring grandkids and great grandkids. Folk in their 70s are caring for their parents, or others in their 90s. It’s therefore important for us to consider what changes are likely in the future; what family roles do I perform now and what will be required at later stages.

Planning means a preventative approach to trying to keep illness at bay and staying active enough to do whatever our heart desires by eating well, exercising and having regular medical health checks-ups. We must understand our individual bodies and health status.

What are the health risks we are personally prone to either through genetics, environment or lifestyle? Are there hereditary conditions to be aware of? Has my diet over the preceding 30 years increased the threat of chronic disease? Have my working conditions impacted on me physically? Have I been largely sedentary in past years? Be honest with yourself in considering these factors. Really honest.

Then add in the professional assessment and input to be properly informed. Having the answers to these questions will provide control over any conditions we may have or be susceptible to. Take the initiative to increase your own health literacy. Increased knowledge will prove invaluable as health circumstances vary into the future.

Few things have an impact on our quality of life through any phase of our journey as much as where, and in what kind of dwelling we live. Everyone’s needs will differ and like everything else they will change as we move through life, but the definition of an ideal home is one where we feel happy, safe and comfortable, a place where it’s lovely to be and great to return to. A home we’re proud of. Of course, like good friends, an ideal home doesn’t always just fall into our lap.

Careful planning and a realistic appraisal of our needs and future financial situation is crucial to find the right place at the right price. Think about what has been important to you in the past, what is important to you now, and what will be important in the future? It’s considering – or contemplating – what best meets your needs.

Our priorities should shape our plans with the opportunity to then refine and consolidate as our circumstances and preferences evolve. Think ahead and consider what changes are inevitable, how can you maximise your choices. An opinion from a wise confidant, counsel from a professional or simply valuable tid-bits picked up by keeping our eyes and ears open are all useful.  Ultimately though, the plans are ours !

Are you retired? Did you have a plan in place before you said goodbye to paid employment?

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