Preparing for Retirement
 
Retirement is a time of significant change for people, there are plenty of opportunities but also some challenges. There are lots of ways to move towards and then into retirement and many matters to think though. Here are a few suggestions that may help to get you started on your journey. These topics are all covered in more depth in the Retiring Well Course.
Activities to facilitate your journey

 

Here are some of the principles and activities that I found particularly helpful as I prepared for life without full-time work. Increasingly people phase the end of full time paid work, often reducing to fewer days before stopping completely. So it may be helpful to follow some of these suggestions more than once.

 

1. Take plenty of time to think, pray, plan and prepare before you finish work. I’d suggest starting 12 to 18 months before you stop work. It’s a process that takes time, so be patient. Don’t be surprised if it takes another year or more after you’ve finished work for a new pattern of life to fall into place. This is an opportunity to dream and think and pray about this exciting new stage of life. In what ways might God be calling you to serve? What new hobbies might you take up? Some of these may be obvious but expect some surprises too. It’s good to take soundings from others who know you well, including those ahead of you on the retirement journey. I went on retreat several times over an 18 month period. Others might find setting aside a morning or afternoon each quarter more realistic.

 

2. Use a journal to record your journey towards retirement, including all the possibilities and dreams for the future, as well as any questions that you have. I appreciate that this will appeal more to some than others. But it’s worth a try and it means all your ideas are in one place. From time to time you may find it helpful to review all that you’ve written. My journal included sections for:

  • Recording my thoughts and ideas including the conversations, sermons, incidents, pictures that may have fed into them.

  • A to-do list to move my retirement planning forward.

  • Some key “criteria” that would be important as I considered options for the future.

  • Lists of possibilities for voluntary service, paid work, leisure activities and so on. I found it helpful to list pros and cons of some of the options and consider the next steps. This flushed out which possibilities I was most enthusiastic about.

 

3. Consider how you will leave paid employment well. Is there a particular “legacy” you’d like to leave in your workplace or profession? What life lessons have you learned in employment that may be useful in your new life stage and may be worth sharing with others?

 

4. Take a gap (of several months if possible) at the end of full time work before you take on any new responsibilities or areas of service. This acts as a buffer and allows you to unwind and to take stock, as well as to develop new patterns and lifestyles. It also means that you can consider any invitations that you receive to get involved in new activities or areas of service more strategically, rather than chronologically. Go away if you can (we cover some creative ways to do this on the course). This can help you move on from the established patterns of many years at work.

 

5. Consider ways in which your devotional life might develop now that you haven’t got to rush out of the door first thing every morning.

 

6. Start to consider a new rhythm, pace and balance for this new phase of life, recognising that your energy levels are probably reducing.

 

7. Consider the implications of supporting others and of being supported, both as you are perceived to have more time and as you grow older. As part of this if you are married consider and discuss together the implications of you and your partner both being at home far more. Also begin to think about how you might introduce yourself in future (now you can no longer use your job or profession) and where your self-worth will come from if work has been important to you.

 

8. Reflect on what you’d like your life legacy to be and what you may need to plan and do to make that a reality.

 

These are only headlines. I’d strongly encourage you consider attending Retiring Well or another retirement planning course or meeting with a group of friends who are at the same stage to explore these topics further.

Signposts

 

 

Author and copyright: Helen Calder 2019