“The whole notion of retirement has been radically changed. Formerly we thought of retirement as the beginning of the end; today we simply think of retirement as a new beginning. The retirement transition is actually the beginning of a new career/life stage called RENEWAL.” Richard P. Johnson, Ph.D., author of The New Retirement© and creator of the Retirement Success Profile™.
When I facilitate workshops on Retirement Success, I like to start with a question. ”What is your first thought when I mention the word retirement?” Most people say ‘money’. We spend our time planning for the financial aspect of retirement. Of course this is important, but it is not the only factor. We often spend more time planning for a two week trip than we do for retirement. Just as we plan for a trip, we need a road map for where we are going for the rest of our life.
Here is some interesting data.
- We may spend 20-40 years in retirement, more than any other life phase, even more than we have worked.
- The idea of retirement was first offered in Germany in 1883, when life expectancy was 67, so they thought they would have only two years to pay! (86 today is the equivalent of 65 in 1883).
- There is a 9-18 month honeymoon period, when we are just happy to have the break. Then we start to question: What am I here to do? What is this all about? In other words, we need a plan.
- Research suggest that individuals are more productive at work if they have a solid plan for retirement in place.
Our work life fulfills five basic needs of life:
- Time management
- Sense of purpose
- Status or role in society
Let’s have a look at each of these areas. Our financial needs are fulfilled by working. For a successful retirement, we need adequate financial security to maintain our desired life-style. Money cannot guarantee retirement success, but it does play a central role in overall satisfaction in retirement. A key question is: How much is enough? Being human, our answer is usually ‘a little more.’! Here are some questions to ask ourselves related to finance:
- What are my priorities for retirement: family, leisure, friends, home, travel, material possessions, physical health etc.?
- How much money will I really need?
- Once retired, how much money can I withdraw each year?
- Do I have ways to make money in retirement?
Our time is managed for us, to a large extent by work. Work gives structure to our life and keeps us in the mainstream of life. We know where we will be Monday morning. Once retired, we are in charge of all this time. How will we manage it? There are 168 hours in the week. If we give ourselves 56 hours to sleep, 56 hours to work (allowing for travel and overtime), we have 56 hours left. When we retire, we will be in charge of 112 hours – we need a plan. How will we structure our time?
Work provides a sense of purpose or utility. It gives some meaning to our life. No matter what our work is, we are needed in some way; we help others by our work. How can we replace this in retirement?
Through our work, we have a certain status or role in society. In fact, many of us take our personal identity from our work. We are often so invested in our work that our jobs define not only what we do, but who we are. Re-defining ourselves can be a challenge. In planning for retirement many options are open to us. It might be another full time job, part time work, volunteer work or maybe starting that business you always dreamed of. What might your new role be?
Finally, work brings us in contact with many other people and provides socialization. We connect with others, form relationships and even friendships in the workplace. Many times, these relationships end once we leave the workplace. We have all heard the expression: ‘friends for a season, friends for a reason, friends for life’. As not all friendships become friends for life, we need to ensure we have social contact in retirement. Research suggests a strong correlation between social interaction and health and well-being in older adults. Finding new avenues of social interaction is crucial.
Retirement can be the most exciting life phase, offering the freedom to do whatever we want. It is our invitation to grow, learn, and experience life in a new way. It can also challenge us in ways we never thought of. The key, of course, is planning. By using the five factors as a base, we can develop the plan and experience retirement as a most exciting time of renewal.
Heather Erhard, Director, Erhard Associates (Executive Coach, Retirement Coach)
For information on completing the Retirement Success Profile, assessing your readiness for retirement and to develop a plan, contact Heather at www.erhardassociates.com