Retirement Redesigned

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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Retirement Redesigned

HomeMindsetLegacyThe path to a good retirement: The Hero’s Journey

The path to a good retirement: The Hero’s Journey

Monday Deadline. Retirement, like any life stage is full of potential traps. Some manage them well, and others blow it. Those who follow the path well, and find the treasure, pay attention to five major issues.

The first is learning to let go of the past and embracing the future. Easier said than done! It means adapting to change, and that is never a cake walk. Watch the TED talk given by Andrew Peek, “How your personal narrative limits your future”.

Most of us become entrenched in our daily routines and our habits. Without realizing it we hold on to them and find comfort in the sense of regularity There is a certain safety in knowing how the day is meant to start and how things progress from there on. Letting go of habits can be like giving up smoking or changing your way of eating. We live in a rapidly changing world and there is much uncertainty stalking us. Holding on just seems more peaceful.

But letting go and embracing the future also means letting go of your pre-retirement identity and finding a new one for yourself. You have to make peace with no longer being Mr. Big-Shot and
exchange all that it means for something a little less grand.

Once you let go of the past, there is the great prospect of embracing what is new. This can operate on many levels from new technology that is driving the world from Facebook to Instagram and the other social media to new ways of defining gender differences, formats of marriage, different political realities and a new financial order for your life.

The second major issue successful people incorporate into their retirement planning is the redefinition of their personality and their values. Growing older means leaving behind some of the youthful exuberance (some may say recklessness!) and cultivating a more mature approach. What seemed desperately important thirty or so years ago can now be wiped off the screen.

The third one that the clever folks get right is creating and adapting to a new lifestyle. This means no longer working in the same full-time structure as before, but perhaps still wanting to be productive. This could be starting a new business, or being happy with self-employment, or using skills and experience that have not been used in your career until now. It is looking seriously at the big lifestyle issues, like moving to a new home-base, or seriously scaling down.

The fourth one is health. What has been the medical history to date, and will this have an impact o retirement? Most people in their sixties have some or other health issue from deteriorating eyesight to loss of hearing and increasingly limited mobility. These are the less overwhelming health issues. But there could also be heart trouble, and diabetes, and all the various cancers. These are the biggies. Tacking stock of health and creating a realistic agenda for managing the most important concerns must be a key retirement goal.

The fifth big thing to factor into retirement planning is matters concerning the family. All of us know what an ideal family set up should look like, but often it does not. Older children that have their own problems from wobbly careers to shaky marriages that suck energy and resource from retirees. Grandchildren, if you are fortunate enough to have them, are a constant delight, but even they have to be factored in to retirement planning.

People who go off the rails when they retire are most likely ignoring one or more of these big issues. They may fail to let go and get little excitement about their future in retirement. They hold on to who they are and who they were but fail to take account of how life has changed them. They remain ignorant of potential lifestyle changes and assume that they have no possibility of having a second work option like starting a new business. Most allow health issues to overwhelm them and don’t make the adjustments that a next life requires of them. And, of course their families can become a burden instead of a great personal source of pleasure.

For those who want to take these matters more seriously, Robert Laura is the founder of the Retirement Coaches Association and he has written the book “Naked Retirement” which gives most valuable insights on how to deal with retirement. Check it out.

Johann is the founding partner of Reset Retirement where we focus on assisting people with planning for the non-financial aspects of their lives after full-time work. He had a long career in executive search and leadership as the founding partner and chairman of Heidrick & Struggles in South Africa where he was the head of the company’s board practice.


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