Retirement can creep up on you. You spend decades of your life working hard to build the career you want while balancing everything else life throws at you – relationships, kids, ageing parents and hopefully maintaining some semblance of a social life. Suddenly people start mentioning retirement because you’re nearing ‘that age’. You’re taken off-guard.
You’re not the only one. As a Certified Retirement Options Coach, I work with individuals and organisations to help people find their retirement happy place by considering usually forgotten non-financial elements. Retirement is a massive transition that workers need support to navigate.
However close you are to retirement, I want to debunk some misconceptions for you to give clarity on what is actually involved in a successful retirement.
#1 You only need to plan the financial aspect
Of course finance is a significant part of retirement planning. If your pension won’t independently support you yet, you can’t clock off from generating any income. But it isn’t the only thing you need to consider. Don’t leave this very important question unanswered: What are you saving for?
Whether you go travelling, down-size and move out of the city or continue working in a part-time capacity because you love it determines the financial support you’ll need in retirement. Know what you want to do post-work, or at least the options you’re considering, so you know what to budget for.
#2 Everyone is looking forward to it
Some people can’t wait to retire. That’s a main driver of their career choices as they work to build their pension as big as possible as fast as possible. For others, they enjoy the career they have chosen. They find it fulfilling and that it gives them a purpose. So the idea of ending their career doesn’t feel good.
What a lot of people don’t realise is that retirement is a highly emotional transition. It means leaving behind the life you know and who you were as a working person. It can feel really disorientating to suddenly lose any semblance of routine because you don’t need to be anywhere. It can take time to find your feet again. I’ve outlined the Six Emotional Stages of Retirement in this free download.
#3 Everyone knows what they want
The reason some people dread retirement and anticipate their last day feeling like dropping off a cliff is because they don’t know what they want to do. They haven’t had the chance to really think about it because their headspace was occupied with what their career (and other demands) required of them in the moment. The future post-career wasn’t a concern until now.
I encourage people to start planning their retirement, years in advance because it is such a change. It’s unlikely that you’re going to figure out exactly what you want to do with your retirement on the spot. There are so many things to consider while preparing to say goodbye to the life you knew and the person you were. In my Retirement With Purpose Toolkit, I guide people through visioning their life after work so they can piece together what a meaningful retirement looks like for them.
#4 It means stopping
We all know the stereotypes of retired people. A game of golf is the most exciting thing they’ll get up to in a week. Other than that they plan their life around what’s on the telly. Maybe you’ve seen the stereotypes play out in the lives of family members. But this is your retirement. You can make it your own.
Retiring doesn’t mean that your life comes to a halt. Some people want to completely disconnect from their careers and spend their time on totally different activities. Others step down from their fast-paced role and take up a less intense role that gives them the same social or purpose-driven fulfilment with some flexibility too. I always ask my clients to consider how work could play a role in their retirement – part-time, voluntary, self-employed, exploring a new industry and so on.
#5 You’re in it alone
It’s unfair to expect you to have all the answers to your happy retirement when it’s a transition you’ve never experienced before. Often asking friends and family yields few answers because your wants, needs and values differ. That’s when talking to an impartial expert who gets retirement and wants you to have the best one possible is helpful.
As a Certified Non-Financial Retirement Transition Coach, it’s my job to help you figure out what retirement looks like for you considering all the important aspects as outlined in the LifeOptions Profile: Career and Work, Health and Wellness, Finance and Insurance, Family and Relationships, Leisure and Social, and Personal Development.
If you’re interested in receiving guidance in finding your new purpose and goals for retirement, book a free consultation with me and I’ll help you to find your best path forward.
If nothing else, remember your retirement is YOUR retirement. You can make it work for you.