You’ve dreamt about it for years but it’s never been this close - stepping down from full-time work and retiring to savour the ‘golden years’ and the anticipation and excitement of what they’ll bring.
Your high-expectations of ditching the daily grind for good may have been all-consuming as the big day dawns - particularly through cold bleak winters when your deep slumber is shattered by the early alarm and yet another 12-hour day ahead.
As a fellow ‘countdown retiree’ about to embark on the next chapter, this ‘Time for Life’ blog will open up and share the wealth of opportunities for the over 50s - many of which will be relevant to everyone. Themes will encompass health and well being, travel heritage, wining and dining - and fashion.
With the aim of motivating and inspiring us all on our exciting and daunting new journey, below are some steps to help pave our collective route to a smooth transition.
The well-used adage that ‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’ is just as relevant in pre-retirement as business.
While it is understandably impossible and, depending upon commitments, impractical to plan in minutiae detail your daily, weekly or monthly schedule - it is important to set a vision and goals of what you want to achieve.
This can span anything from scaling Yorkshire’s iconic Three Peaks, cookery courses, gardening, fly fishing or exploring a far-flung corner of the world you’ve set your sights on for years but never had the luxury of taking a month’s holiday from work.
It’s vital to share and involve your partner/spouse/family in your plan to avoid any ‘surprises’ down the line. Spending evenings, weekends and holidays with your loved ones is a whole different ballgame to being in each other’s pockets 24x7 - so discuss what this new life together will look like if you value your relationship!
A vital ingredient in your life plan is financial planning and ensuring your pension will last - irrespective of the fact that we don’t have a crystal ball to determine how long this will be.
As a yardstick, the Office for National Statistics puts UK life expectancy at 79.4 years for men and 83.1 years for women. Having said that, I’ve just had the pleasure of celebrating a very special friend’s 92nd birthday - so make contingencies!
This may take a while to achieve - so give yourself time to adapt to your new freedom.
After decades of full-time employment or self-employment and planning work, leisure and domestic routines like a military operation, changing your mindset from ‘full-on’ to the concept of vast tracts of time stretching endlessly ahead will not be achieved in a one day. One hundred days may be more realistic and will vary from person to person.
Hurtling into a new lifestyle by packing everything you can conceivably think of to fill every waking moment of your day can cause stress and anxiety as opposed to fulfilment.
Like all milestones in our lives, it’s important to make time to celebrate with friends and nearest and dearest without going over the top.
While on holiday over the years - and closer to home - we’ve all seen people sustain the same level of alcohol consumption when they retire as they did while on vacation, inevitably to the detriment of their health.
Depending upon the role/title you have held in business and employment over your working life, this can be a challenging hurdle to overcome. Many retirees go into meltdown when stripped of their status - whether it is managing director, supervisor, manager, team leader etc.
If this potential sense of loss resonates with you, taking on a voluntary role could help to avoid sliding into an emotional wilderness - adding value to the recipient organisation/charity and boosting your self-esteem.
If you find your confidence plummeting in the early days, draw on these tips from Yorkshire-based Jane Keogh (janekeogh.co.uk) - who helps people to lead happier and more fulfilling lives - to help you maximise the next formative stage of your life to the full:
and then work step-by-step to develop your potential. Acknowledge small achievements which take you closer to your end outcome.
Stop judging yourself by what happens to you in life, so you're not basing your confidence on outside events.
Forgive yourself and others for past mistakes. Harbouring old grudges takes up a lot of time and energy which you could be using in more productive ways.
When you fall into self-criticism, notice them and change them to positive thoughts. Emphasise your strengths. Focus on what you can do rather than what you cannot.
Remember self-confidence and self-esteem are learnt behaviour - and with practice can be built.
My final words of advice are to keep looking forwards towards your ‘brave new world’ - and take comfort from the fact that we’re all in this together!