Retirement is possibly one of the most disruptive and life-changing events that can happen to us in our lifetimes.
We spend our long working life saving and budgeting for this major turning point. There is a widely-held belief that most people work toward and look forward to these retirement years. Whilst that may be true for some, many of us feel we are still productive members of society who rely on our earnings to fund our desired lifestyles.
For these individuals, the reality of retirement can be a little daunting. Rather than feeling relief and escape from the treadmill of working life or the responsibilities of running a business, suddenly being confronted with endless amounts of free, unstructured time can feel very unsettling.
It can help to reframe your thinking around retirement. Instead of treating retirement as ending something, think of it as beginning a new chapter. Don’t just retire from something; retire to something. It’s your choice. Either you make your life happen and have a richer life that is well lived, or just let it happen to you. Which would you prefer?
To achieve a successful and fulfilling retirement you must prepare. Start now: consider what you want to do, how you are going to achieve it and whether you have the resources.
Planning for success
The first step is all about deciding what it is you really, really want from the rest of your life. Whilst this can seem daunting we’ve come up with some questions that can help you paint a clearer picture.
1. What are the things I’m most passionate about?
The first step to a fulfilling retirement is to think about the things that you’re passionate about. What do you love? What fulfills you? What do you want to spend more time doing? Maybe you enjoy writing. Maybe you love spending time with your family, travelling or have a knack for photography.
Figure out what you love doing, then plan to do more of it.
2. What are my greatest accomplishments in life so far?
Think about your past experiences and the things in your life you’re most proud of. How did those accomplishments make you feel? Why not try to emulate those experiences and feelings?
If you’re a fan of learning and loved the experience of mastering new things, find a new course. If volunteering for charity gives you a boost, find more ways to do it. Continue to do the things that have been most fulfilling for you.
3. If my life had absolutely no limits, what would I choose to have and what would I choose to do?
This is a fun one, and a chance to let your imagination roam: Think about what you would do if you had no limits.
If you had all the money and time in the world, where would you go? What would you do? Who would you spend time with?
These answers can help you figure out what you want to do with your retirement. It doesn’t mean you need millions of dollars to be happy, though. Answering these questions will help you realise what’s most important to you and what your biggest hopes and dreams are. You can use these to set goals and create a path toward happiness and fulfillment.
Which leads to our next question.
4. What are my goals for retirement?
Goals are a necessary component to set you up for a happy future.
Look at what you answered in the previous question, and then ask yourself these:
This is the start of placing those milestones on your path. Once you figure out the answers to each of these, you’ll have a much better idea of what you should do with your life.
5. What do I not like to do?
An important part of figuring out what you want to do with your life is honestly assessing what you don’t want to do.
In retirement, as throughout life, there will be pressure from external sources – other people, social expectations – on what you are expected to do. It’s important to pick apart which of your ideas about the future are your own wants, and which of them are the wants of others.
So ask yourself honestly: what are the things you don’t like and would like to do less of?
If you want something to change in your life, you need to take action.