Big birthdays have a habit of making you focus on the future.
So does being ill.
This week’s double whammy of me getting COVID and having to cancel my wife’s entire celebration weekend for her milestone birthday has hit hard.
Time on my hands
Having time on your hands to do what you want is one thing.
Having time on your hands because you feel ill and have no energy is another.
As I sat sipping yet another hot drink in the splendid isolation of the spare bedroom, it set my mind once again to what retirement means in terms of time.
For me, the one thing retirement isn’t about is more time. Just having more time without purpose is just, well, more time. It’s how you spend that time that counts.
Age is just a number
As the birthdays milestone get bigger, people start asking when you’re thinking of retiring – 62, 65, or some other age. Only you can decide what age is right for you. And, of course, you may not actually want to retire – at least, not in the traditional sense.
If you view retirement as the opportunity of doing precisely what you want, when you want, where you want, that’s great. However, you do need to know what you actually want to do.
If retirement is just the alternative to the working grind or a job you hate, the danger is you’ll spend time in retirement just NOT doing something (i.e. NOT working).
Time to do what we want
The problem with understanding what retirement means to you is that as a nation, we have been sold a vision of retirement that is fundamentally flawed. This is that we should do what we don’t enjoy in order to accumulate the money we need to someday do what we want.
This dream of doing what we really want to do is why the concept of traditional retirement is appealing to so many of us.
Often the truth is completely different. Hard-working folks who have retired and dropped out of the world of work are not always happy with their decision. The truth is that traditional retirement doesn’t work for everyone. In fact, I’ve found only a few people that it 100% DOES work for.
Put work at the heart of your retirement planning
This might seem an odd idea but bear with me! There are three important steps to take when planning your retirement:
- Decide what part work of any type, paid or voluntary, will play in your retirement. Consider continuing to work, not working at all – or a combination.
- Talk to your partner. Find out what their view is, and what they plan to do in retirement. Check that your plans (catching up on reading in a hammock in the garden) don’t clash with theirs (total re-landscaping of the garden all summer long).
- Put together a plan that will enable you (both) to achieve your goals.
Remember, you don’t have to retire at 65 (or even 67). The date you can collect your state pension is an artificial border embedded in traditional retirement. You don’t have to stop working to start retiring either. You may just need to shift your focus to doing “work” you enjoy.
When you ask many retirees how they’re doing, they often reply, “I’m keeping busy.” If “keeping busy” is doing stuff they don’t particularly want to do, they are essentially just passing time.
The key to being happy in retirement is when you are busy doing what you love. So, if the other half wants to renovate the garden, and they love doing that, that’s fine. All you need to do is relocate the hammock, (at least until the new pergola is built).
If you would like to discuss your non-financial retirement plans, call me and book an appointment. I’ve always got time to talk, and more important; to listen. My role as a retirement coach is to support you without judgment or my own agenda, something you are unlikely to experience when chatting to friends or advisers.
So, feel free to contact me. I’m not going anywhere for a few days…