Ready, steady, go - to retirement
As you watch any athlete get ready for a career-defining race, you'll notice the degree of emotional preparation etched into the lines of their face.
Perhaps that is also reflected in the mixed bag of sometimes deeply felt emotions you experience when preparing for something as momentous as your retirement – getting ready, steadying yourself and getting going when the race is well and truly on to reach the goals you’ve set for yourself.
As you get ready and steady to retire, it is likely to take a whole combination of planning emotionally, physically, and financially.
So, what’s likely to be involved?
Retirement is probably something you’ve been looking forward to for much of your working life. But as you draw closer, it might seem you’re edging towards some cliff you’re about to jump off.
So much of your identity is likely to have been defined by work and the colleagues and friends you surrounded yourself by during your career. As you approach the cliff edge of retirement, it's as though you're about to lose that identity entirely, says a 70-year-old woman interviewed by the charity Age UK.
Planning – emotionally, physically and financially – says the Centre for Ageing Better in a study published in September 2018, may help transform the nightmare of any leap from the cliff edge, into a positive, welcoming and entirely new chapter in your life.
Not in my name
One of the barriers in adjusting to retirement emotionally might be the conviction that it is something that happens to someone else.
It might conjure up the picture of an old and frail person staring aimlessly at the television all day, with only a cat for company, suggested Saga Magazine on the 7th of March 2018.
That points to one of the fundamental problems in defining just what is “old age”, suggests an article published by the British Psychological Society in its magazine The Psychologist. It concludes, of course, that any definition is subjective and relative – age is just a number, in common parlance.
Well-adjusted and emotionally content individuals, continued The Psychologist, are generally those who play an active and regular part in community organisations and activities. Participating in the community around you adds to your quality of life and, in so doing, helps to keep you well-adjusted.
The mental and physical stimulation derived from such participation enhances body and mind and reduces morbidity, say the professionals, of those who continue to work part-time, do voluntary work in the wider society, organise local events, look after grandchildren or take up DIY.
That participation is also good for society at large, of course, helping to remind those in retirement that there are plenty of ways of giving back to the community.
If you think that retirement is a life with your feet up and relaxing all of the time, you might be ill-prepared for getting the most out of this chapter of your life.
That tendency towards slothfulness and inertia is precisely why you may need to make a conscious effort to remain active. Movement is good for you. Your workday life almost certainly involved a fair amount of moving about. Keeping ageing muscles reasonably toned is something to keep in mind when you are retired.
Many of those in retirement spend 10 or more hours a day lying down or just sitting, says the NHS – and this not only places those individuals in the most sedentary age group but increases the risk of heart disease, obesity, falls and early death.
It’s not as though you need to develop a hard and fast or rigorous exercise regime, just engaging in some form of moderate physical exercise may be all that it takes. Your goal should be around 150 minutes’ of moderate exercise a week – whether that’s in sessions of 30 minutes 5 days of the week or more regular 10-minute bursts.
As you get further into retirement and find it more difficult to exercise, the NHS has even come up with a series of exercises you can do sitting down – and these still help you to avoid falls, improve your mobility, and of course you can do them at home.
The secret to financial well-being in your retirement lies in planning well in advance. Indeed, the sooner you start, the better your chances of arriving at a situation with which you are entirely comfortable and at ease.
There are no absolutes, of course, since some people might feel comfortably off with a pension income much smaller than that to which another person aspires. The secret, though, lies in making the most of whatever pension arrangements you have already put in hand and how you might ensure that your money continues to work its hardest for you.
A useful starting point is likely to be unveiled during the course of this year with the launch of so-called pension dashboards, which will tell you at a glance the value of the various pension pots you may have established during your working life – and let you begin to work out the likely income you might receive from them.
As in all matters relating to pension planning, of course, you are able to consult Independent Pension Specialists who are your independent financial advisers.
Looking ahead to your retirement can be daunting – we hope these tips have helped prepare you.
The data used in this article is correct at the time of writing