Negotiating the challenges of retirement

I often write about the financial challenges associated with retirement and how having the right guidance and support can make a profound difference to your life.  However, those transitioning into retirement are often faced with a myriad of other challenges associated with traversing such a significant lifestyle event.  These sometimes unexpected consequences include mental, emotional, social and health challenges.

Apart from money, having a job provides us with a social network, a purpose, a routine and a certain self-image.  For many, a career also provides a creative outlet and a means of personal fulfillment. So transitioning away from the workforces creates a void that requires purposeful action to address.

Through working with clients over the years, I have taken away some key learnings about the kinds of challenges that arise, some of the triggers and ways to either prevent or navigate through them effectively.  These learnings are summarised in my following five tips.

  1. Design your retirement

    Here in Victoria, the life expectancy for men is 77 years and women 83 years.  Consequently, retiring from the work force at age 65 would mean you would expect to spend between 12 – 18 years in retirement, a long time! It is therefore of upmost importance to consider the kind of lifestyle you aspire to live BEFORE you retire, so you can start the planning process as early as possible, increasing the probability of achieving your goals.

    Answering the following questions will ignite the retirement design process:

    • Where will you live?
    • Where would you like to travel?
    • What hobbies will you pursue?
    • What will get you excited each day?
    • Who will you spend time with?
    • What part will you play in your local and wider communities?

    Only once you have identified all these and other key lifestyle choices that require money, planning and advice, can you start to plan and work towards the realisation of your retirement vision.

  2. Develop and implement a routine

    The initial phase of retirement is often referred to as the ‘honeymoon’ period, as this is the opportunity to finally sleep in, spend time catching up with friends and family, and perhaps sitting back and reading a few books.  However, this ‘honeymoon’ period may not last long, and can lead to emotional issues such as depression.  Factors contributing to these emotional issues can be:

    • The feeling of loss of identity
    • Lack of routine and/or purpose
    • Conflict with loved ones due to differing retirement expectations

    Developing and adhering to a routine provides your life with structure and purpose. Daily routines can be simple and incorporate activities such as walking the dog, picking up the grandkids from school, playing golf, reading, or coffee at your favorite café.

  3. Be Active

    Being active not only refers to physical but also social and mental.  Certainly for many, enjoying down time is essential for a happy, healthy retirement, but too much inactivity in any of the aforementioned realms can be counter-productive.

    Creating a social strategy prior to retirement is a great way to help define your roles and responsibilities with your clubs, associations, volunteer groups, friends and family circles.  Strong social activity has been associated with happier healthy life.  Loneliness is a common source of depression in older people, so ensure you foster your social networks.

    Being active mentally is about challenging your mind and mental capacity. Consistent learning, reading, and problem solving are important and help maintain a healthy brain and mind.

    Physical activity should be factored into your daily routine and is about consistency rather than intensity.  A great way to maintain your physical health is to get a dog.  Studies have found that pet owners in general tend to live longer, healthier and more productive lives.

    And finally, if you really love what you do for work, perhaps part time work is an appropriate way of staying active.

  4. Don’t forget about your spouse

    Whilst always important, working at your relationship becomes more critical when you are experiencing a significant life changing event, such as retirement.  Potential issues arise when partners have differing expectations around work, retirement and lifestyles.  It can also be challenging adjusting to actually spending more time together. Doing everything together can lead to conflicts and stress if time apart and personal space is important.

    Spend the time to discuss with your partner ways to accommodate each other’s wants, needs and expectations before and during your retirement.

  5. Get professional support and guidance

    A financial planner can help you design, plan and realise your retirement dreams. Having someone there to guide and support you through the transitions of life can provide you with peace of mind and increase your probability of success.

    Other common sources of a support for transitioning through the challenges of retirement include psychologists, councillors, Centrelink and the Council on the Ageing Victoria.

    Failing to plan is planning to fail, and your retirement is not something you want to get wrong People who plan to live an active life after retirement are generally happier than those with few plans or routines.  Make your retirement a fun, fulfilling and productive time.

At Orbis Wealth Management, we work with clients to plan, transition to and enjoy their retirement.  We help our clients to maximise the probability of achieving their financial goals and lifestyle aspirations through planning, education and advice.

Important information and disclaimer
This article has been written by Simon Dundas-Smith, Managing Director of Orbis Wealth Management.   Any advice in this publication is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances.

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