Lifestyle special: Making the most of your retirement
What’s your retirement dream? Every one of us, of course, is likely to have different episodes and chapters to that dream – dreams are highly individual and personal after all.
But if you are looking to make the most of your retirement – and who isn’t! – here are some thoughts and suggestions from which you might find common ground.
Maintaining a purpose in life – enjoying yourself!
Retirement is no prison sentence – it’s a time for freedom (from work or the day to day responsibilities of bringing up a family) and a time to use that freedom to enjoy yourself.
Once again, of course, one person’s idea of enjoyment might not be everybody’s cup of tea. But now that you have all the time in the world, it might be time to experiment a little – if you discover that you don’t much like one particular pursuit, there are plenty of others you might move on to.
Here are some ideas, for example, just to get you started:
• travel is probably near the top of most people’s lists as they approach retirement – it broadens the mind, so they say, and there’s nothing like broadening your mind to keep you feeling young, fit and healthy;
• those dreams might start out very grand – with travel to distant and exotic locations – but the cost or the aches and pains that creep on many in their later years might put off all but the more wealthy and spritely;
• but exciting travel does not have to involve long distances, high costs and exotic destinations – Britain itself holds a treasure trove of attractive and interesting places you probably have not yet visited, so there is likely to be plenty of choice much closer to home;
Music to your ears
• if you’ve even a note of music in your head, you might think about taking up a musical instrument, suggests the Daily Mail newspaper’s money pages;
• you may take a tester lesson on any instrument you’ve had a yearning to play, and enjoy a free lesson or too, organised during Learn to Play Day, which is hosted every year by the charity Music for All;
Sport – or more gentle exercise
• if music is food for the soul, then exercise through some kind of sport, nourishes the body and helps it stay fit and healthy despite the relentless march of the years;
• it helps, too, that there are any number of different sports from which to choose – you don’t have to join a rugby team or race a marathon simply to enjoy taking part in any kind of sport and the social interaction it brings;
• if organised sport is not to your taste, then there are also plenty of ways of taking exercise – strenuous or gentle, according to your abilities and preferences – in any way you might enjoy the health-giving exercise;
• maybe you have always wanted to brush up on your Spanish speaking skills or have a hankering to get involved with history or do a Physics course;
• there are lots of Adult Education centres that you can attend as well as online courses; or
• you could join The University of the Third Age, where retired and semi-retired people come together and learn together, not for qualifications but for its own reward: the sheer joy of discovery!
• gardening is another of those pursuits which might be taken at your own pace and to suit whatever level of fitness you care to muster;
• employ someone – or persuade them with your sweetest of smiles – to do the heavy digging for you, and you might be left the much gentler task of just pottering about in your garden;
• growing anything – from flowers to vegetables to fruit – in your own garden brings a unique set of rewards and sense of achievement and satisfaction;
• and at the end of the day, of course, there is likely to be somewhere green and shady to set up your deckchair and relax;
Voluntary and charity work
• it’s no accident that the charity Age Action Alliance describes the whole notion of volunteering in retirement as “new beginnings”;
• whatever charity you choose, voluntary work offers a brand new beginning in your life and a chance to give back to the community at least some of the talents, experience and knowledge you have acquired during your lifetime;
• of course, you have the satisfaction of knowing that you are helping others, but that very notion of making a difference and making a positive contribution is likely to prove a reward in itself.
Making the most of your retirement is likely to require the firm foundations of a financial plan that harnesses the value of your finances, in a way that gives you the freedom to find all the many ways you have of enjoying life to the full.