Many of us are at a stage in life where we or someone we know has just retired or are currently considering retirement. Even though there is life beyond work, it can be unnerving making this transition. Retiring is a huge life event. Here are 8 tips to help you navigate this next phase of your life:
- A financial plan is essential. We no longer live in a time where company pension plans are the norm. Make sure you are financially prepared. Make an appointment with your bank or credit union to get expert advice. And check out a few websites that offer services such as www.moneysense.ca (7 Tips to Plan a Smarter Retirement)and www.getsmarteraboutmoney.ca (7 Ways to Prepare Financially for Retirement).
- Are you ready to retire? Sometimes we don’t have full control over the decision. It may be due to downsizing by an employer, or it might be the result of health issues. If you have the choice, ask yourself, does your job provide meaning in your life? If you enjoy what you are doing, it may be unwise to retire. If you don’t enjoy your job, it may not be retirement you want, but a change in career. Also, if most of your friends are co-workers, you may want to postpone retirement until you find a supportive network beyond the workplace.
- Consider the psychology impact retiring can have on your health and wellbeing. According to Statistics Canada, in 2015, 1.1 million Canadians had worked after retirement age. For some, a regular paycheck was the reason. For others, the very idea of retiring may create such unease that remaining working feels like the least bad option
The loss of professional status is linked to self-image. This loss can be scary. Our profession is part of our identity. The change from a strong work identity to a meaningful post-work identity can be a slow process, especially for those with emotional connections to their careers.
- Have conversations with your children to avoid misunderstandings about your future. We want to matter, to feel appreciated, and to be helpful. There can be a downside to being depended upon, however. When expectations from others can bring conflict. Some worry that after they retire, they will be obliged to others. For example, a daughter may expect her retiring mother to always be available to babysit.
- Retirement is often thought of as an individual decision. But for couples, this crossroads affects them both. Spouses often have a completely different idea about retirement. Neither is wrong. But it is important that each understands what the other’s perception is. This doesn’t mean that they must retire together but it is important to communicate. Couples that communicate together make better decisions and have a higher likelihood of contentment. Retirement is simply another decision in life, which requires ongoing discussions and compromises by both spouses.
- Many people of all ages work long hours and think that when they retire life is going to be fantastic. Sure retirement can be about simplifying. But often, when it comes, the dream is not what people expected. The days of retiring at 65 and dying at 67 are long gone. We now have 25 to 30-year retirements for men and women. Retirement is a major phase of life. Plan out your post-working life to ensure you are ready for retirement. And if you can, take three or four years to transition into it.
- You may be financially ready for retirement, and know where you’re going to live. But the one thing you did not plan for is what to do with all the free time you have on your hands. Build some structure into your daily routine to replace your work routine. Schedule a few activities you want in your ideal week. And plan a special event to do as soon as you retire, to give yourself something to look forward to.
- Many retirees report they are busier than ever. This is not the goal either. Find a balance. Save time for reading, watching TV or listening to music. Include exercise. And a short nap each day is healthy too. No amount of money can make retirement enjoyable if you don’t have good health.
Retirement allows you to re-create yourself but it does not happen automatically. It is easy to settle into retirement without much thought and to be disillusioned after a few months. Look at retirement as an opportunity to try new things. The goal is to retire to something rather than from something. With a small amount of planning, your retirement can be a wonderful stage of life.