Planning for retirement
What on earth will you do? You’ve just spent more than half of your life going to work, earning a living, finding social companionship and physical and mental exercise in the process – now retirement beckons.
Cast your mind back to the preparation and planning that probably went into the start of your chosen career, and you might recognise that a similar exercise needs to be done as you start the next – hopefully long – chapter in your life.
So, what are some of your options for helping to ensure that you spend a long and rewarding retirement? And, perhaps most critically of all, how are you going to fund the decisions you make?
Your “golden gap year”?
It is likely to be one of those significant changes in your life where the chance to take a step back from it all and spend time out doing something completely different may pay dividends.
A recent article showed how gap years are not just for youngsters but for baby boomers too. You’re making the break between a working life and one in retirement – so now might be the chance you’ve been waiting for to try something adventurous, something that gives back to the community, something that releases your yearning to travel, or quite simply the opportunity to do something entirely different.
Preparing your retirement plan
Here are some suggestions of the key stages you might want to run through while you are taking time out – so that you are fully prepared for the retirement that lies ahead:
- how do you imagine your life shaping up in this new chapter in your life;
- you are going to grow older, of course, but what kind of activities do you see yourself pursuing, how will you be spending most days, who will you be seeing and associating with, what exercise do you plan to take, and how do you expect your state of health to run;
- are you expecting radical changes in your lifestyle or do you hope that many things will continue much as before;
- the more detailed this visualisation, the more likely are you to have a realistic and achievable plan;
Can do, not can’t
- you are likely to be in for a long ride – the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest that, if you are a man, you can expect to live until you are nearly 80 and if you are a woman until you are almost 83, and in many cases, of course, you are likely to be considerably older;
- that means you can afford to take a positive and optimistic approach – you can, not can’t - it’s a question of “when” not “if”;
Prepare now, enjoy later
- every day brings its choices and decisions – some may be big ones, others seemingly minor;
- but remember that the decisions you make now are likely to shape the life you are able to lead well into your retirement years:
- taking regular exercise, for example, may help you avoid one of the top ten causes of death and disability, suggested an article by BT on the 3rd of April 2018 as it listed seven benefits of staying active;
- you may also stay active for longer if you continue – or start – eating a healthy diet, says the charity Age UK, which offers a guide addressing the subject;
- loneliness and social isolation afflict many people as they grow older, says the NHS, so start developing lasting friendships now and consider ways of expanding your social circle;
Taking that longer-term view
- one way of assessing whether the things you are doing now are likely to bring lasting benefits is to take a longer-term view and consider if they are really worth doing at all;
- it is not so much a question of giving things up or denying yourself the activities you enjoy, but rather discovering how to make the most of every minute of activity and interest throughout the day;
- you might have heard of them and been tempted to dismiss them as yet another fad, but so-called vision boards have been shown to motivate, inspire you and stimulate creativity;
- put the board in a prominent place and post on it pictures and texts that inspire and move you – encouraging you to action or to positive and creative thinking and emotions.
No amount of dreaming or wishful thinking may help you realise many of your retirement plans, however, if you lack the financial resources to back it all up.
* The data used in this article is correct as at the time of writing.