Retirement Redesigned

Our online course is live! See the menu for details.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Retirement Redesigned

HomeMindsetThe Safety Net Paradox of Retirement

The Safety Net Paradox of Retirement

Thriving in retirement is not just about your savings

It is also about what else gives you meaning in your third age

A note from Johann

The media, with its emphasis on your savings for retirement, has created a safety net paradox. The financial elements of your life after you have left full-time work are obviously important, but are not the only focus your life should have.

The famous Harvard Study of Adult Development, that started following the lives of 268 sophomores in 1938 to establish what makes a happy and healthy life, found that relationships are of overriding importance. It is about getting on with people that makes you happy. We want to have positive relationships with family and friends to sustain us as we age.

We know that this is easier said than done. Relationships with a spouse or with adult children develop and grow as we all get older and can hit some unexpected bumps in the road. But we can invest in our relationships and prepare for the challenges they might face.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of giving up a full-time working career is that of losing a level of status and identity. When people knew you by the working title that your job gave you now have no defined ‘handle’ to interact with. As they say, ‘forewarned is forearmed’, so knowing that loss of identity is a reality after leaving full-time work means that we can prepare for this by really narrowing in on what gives us purpose.

Having a clear sense of purpose will aid us in planning our schedules and how we spend our time in meaningful pursuits. Whether these are spending more time volunteering for causes we hold dear, or building new networks for social engagement or possibly even business new ventures.

All of this social and psychological preparation can aid us in counteracting the atrophy that is sometimes associated with fallow time of retirement. We can stave off isolation and loneliness, and reap the benefits of what we like to refer to as the harvest season of life.


We’re focusing on what we call The Safety Net Paradox. When it comes to retirement planning our focus is fixed on our finances. What about the other important aspects of life? We neglect to prepare for the important elements of our social and emotional well-being and prepare solely for our financial well-being. How will this affect our transition to retirement? Of course, money is important. But so are our relationships, our sense of purpose and belonging, and our thoughts on health and wellbeing. When we include these in our planning we improve the reasons for saving for our retirement in the first place.

Our top 3 article picks this week:

6 Top Tips to Make a Smooth Transition into Retirement

Older adult looking off a mountain to symbolise a smooth climb

Our take:
Planning and preparation are the keys to a meaningful retirement. That’s the main idea behind this piece from Life matters. And though planning for financial wellbeing is important, so is your emotional wellbeing. That’s the focus of this article.

Article excerpt:
“We’re focusing on how to retire well from an emotional perspective.

Author of The New Retirementality, Mitch Anthony sums it up brilliantly. He says that for retirement, “You need enough purpose to wake up in the morning and enough money to sleep at night.”

The word “retirement” suggests your focus is on what you are retiring from (working) rather than the freedom the next phase of your life can bring.

If planned and prepared for, this “next phase” can be incredibly meaningful.

Here are six ways you can smooth your way into your retirement years.

  1. Take the time to design and plan your retirement
    The first step might be deciding when, if, and how you would like to retire.
  2. Make retiring a process
    Some employers will now offer a transitionary period over several years, allowing you to work part-time and get used to having more freedom before you take the step to stop work completely.
  3. Get clear on your purpose in life
    Armed with a clear sense of purpose, you can plan activities that will help you realise your dreams.
  4. Be intentional about how you spend your time
    It’s vital that you take personal responsibility for what you’re going to do with your newfound free time.
  5. Create a routine to give you structure
    Losing this structure can be challenging during the transition into retirement, so it’s important to replace this with a routine that works for you.
  6. Build social interactions into your everyday activities
    Losing regular social contact is one aspect that people miss the most when they retire. But retiring can be an opportunity to invest in your social connections in a way you’ve not had the time to before.
    Click here to read the full article on

Retirees Turn Their Twilight Years into New Beginnings

For many people of retirement age, a hybrid approach offers the perfect balance between work and play.

Older adult working on his laptop and taking notes

Our take:
With the changes in life expectancy since the implementation of retirement age at 65, the all leisure no work idea of retirement is no longer viable for the vast majority of people. Not only from a financial point of view, but also because we neglect many of our basic needs like being productive and staying active. This article touches on these realities while showing examples of retirees living a hybrid life that they have carved out themselves to make retirement work for them.

Article excerpt:
In 2019, Catherine Collinson, president of Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, led a study that found that most people plan on doing some form of work in retirement, paid or unpaid.

The Hybrid Approach
Many people opt for a hybrid approach, where they work part-time on self-designed schedules and reap a myriad of financial and psychological benefits.

Unconventional Retirees
For those of you interested in unconventional twilight years, here are a few examples of clients for whom the road less traveled made all the difference.

Diane, 61: Back to School
For decades, Diane was a full-time mother — a role which, despite being uncompensated, is no less an occupation than any paid career. By the time her children had grown and flown, she found that her role as a parent had shifted from full-time manager to part-time advisor, and she had much more time on her hands.

Diane had always wanted to study Shakespeare. As a young woman, she had suppressed these dreams in favor of the more practical economics/business route, but the desire never went away. As a “retired” mother, Diane applied to a Shakespeare studies master’s program in Stratford-Upon-Avon, was accepted, and spent the next year in England, steeping herself in the subject she loved.
Click here to read the full review on

8 Ways to Achieve a Happy Retirement

Follow these steps to find purpose and retire happy.

An image of a hill with the sun setting over it to portray a happy retirement

Our take:
We think this list of ways to achieve a good retirement is quite comprehensive and if followed, will certainly provide a guideline for a happy retirement. There may be other elements you’d consider, let us know what you would include in this list.

Article excerpt:
When you shift into the retirement stage of life, you have many opportunities to set your own path. There are a variety of strategies you can use to set up a happy retirement. While health conditions and living situations can change, there are ways to make the most of your retirement at every step.

To achieve a happy retirement, consider following these guidelines:

Set new goals.
Live within your means.
Find an outlet.
Engage in brain games.
Stay socially connected.
Mend and renew relationships.
Take on work, your way.
Ask for help.
Click here to read the full review on

Download our app:

My Reset Community

Connect with other members and share insights

Older adults walking on the beach with friends to symbolise the community gained from our online community

Click here to find out more and join our online Reset Retirement Community

Other highlights for the week:

Most Popular Daily Thought

Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else. – Fred Rogers
We look forward to retirement as the end of full-time work and the end of certain demands on our time. It is also the beginning of a whole new life phase, one that can last for decades. How we approach this transition all about our mindset. Do you think of retirement as the end of an era, or a new beginning? How we think of this phase will surely determine how we prepare for it.
Click here to follow our Instagram page

Quote by Fred Rogers – Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.

Weekly Question

Last week’s question:
Besides financial planning how else are you preparing for retirement?
Some of the responses we received:
• Reading for research purposes.
• By making sure I maintain all my friendships.
• Reading about preparing for retirement.
• By joining a network/society group that promotes shared interests.
• By traveling.
• I am preparing by exercising outside daily.
• By staying healthy.
• I am just trying to stay as healthy as possible!
• I am preparing for retirement by working part-time.
• By doing strength training classes.
• I am reading up on how to be mentally prepared.
• I am preparing by keeping myself physically and mentally healthy.

This week’s questions:
Which digital development of the past few years have you found most amazing/ useful?
Click here to answer the question in our Facebook group


We rely on your support to help our community grow and thrive. If you enjoyed our newsletter please consider sharing it with friends and subscribing.

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.