The conversations around retirement tend to focus on money – will you have enough? Will it last? While financial security is important, there’s more to retirement than just your bank balance. Which is why there are other factors you should consider.
Your relationship with your partner or spouse may change. Most couples settle into a routine during their working years and usually see each other only in the evenings or on weekends. Retiring often removes that buffer, and you can suddenly find yourself spending a lot more time together. That can take some adjustment from being together two or three hours a day to being together for 24 hours. And it happens all at once. Even if you love this person dearly, you are not used to being that close all the time. You have to plan for it.
You also realise how much you identify yourself with that job. If you’ve spent a majority of your working life in a specific job or profession it can become a part of your identity. Our jobs have a way of defining us, and when we lose that it can be hard to find a meaningful replacement. Thinking about retirement as a chance to start a new chapter in your life instead of the end of your working life can help ease the transition. Focus on what you want to do next: paid job, volunteer work, hobbies, or following other interests,and you will enter what can be the most meaningful, creative and fruitful phase of your life.
You suddenly have a lot of time on your hands. While most people look forward to retirement and all the spare time that it promises, finding meaningful ways to fill your days can be more difficult than people realise. Part time work and volunteering are two of the more popular ways to pass the time, and when combined with sports and social activities it can help provide a sense of purpose and identity. Other people take up teaching, pursue an interest in art, or retreat to the garage to work on a pet project. At the end of the day, it’s your retirement, and you’ve earned the right to spend it however you want, but studies have shown that keeping active and engaged in retirement can boost both your physical and mental health.
Your health becomes a priority. Free of the daily grind, many retirees turn their attention to their health. In the process, they often find themselves in better shape than they’ve enjoyed for years, or even decades. Compared with working people, retirees can have increased physically activity levels, not sit around all the time, and enjoy healthier sleep patterns. A major change like retirement creates a great window of opportunity to make positive lifestyle changes – it’s a chance to get rid of bad routines and engineer new, healthier behaviours.
Your money can keep growing – But the reality is your final balance is less important than how long your money will last. A combination of investment earnings and pension payments can help stretch even a modest balance.
So, if you are approaching retirement age, start making plans for the time ahead.
The author is a Chandigarh-based freelance contributor