Planning for retirement


Retirement; taste the word. What does it mean to you? A feeling of "finally" after a whole life in the rat race? Or does it make you feel old and furthermore stressed about losing your identity and all co-workers? We all approach this time of life differently. Some of us choose to stay at work but fewer hours per day or week, others embrace the free time fully and look forward to finally being able to do the things that had to be put aside due to all the "musts" in life. But regardless, it is a period of time that needs to be considered and planned. It is actually the rest of your life. Jan Wild, a lady from Australia, has an award winning blog with her partner Rowan Rafferty about this topic. Here she tells about how the two of them are looking at retired life and what is important to think about to have the best out of the years to come.

Name: Jan Wild

Age: 65

Occupation: Blogger

Family: In permanent relationship, no children

Lives: Noosaville, Queensland, Australia

You have recently retired and at the same time you and your partner started a blog about this phase of life. Actually you seem to still be working as it must take some time to managing it.

We started blogging at Retiring not Shy! - - just over 3 years ago. At that time we had both left full time employment although Rowan was working from home helping clients who wanted to take their businesses to the web. We also had 2 acres of land to manage and Rowan was involved in an important volunteer role. We were busy, but I in particular felt isolated in the location we were then living in. 

Blogging was the perfect mechanism for me to find a new community in the online world, and I have had so much support and pleasure from the women who I have met online (and subsequently some, like Kathy Marris, face to face). (Kathy Marris has also been on Women's portraits, adm.)

Managing the blog and associated social media can be incredibly time consuming, and yet as a business owner there is the opportunity to balance and manage ones own time. Whilst there can be a financial impact in stepping back, I have learnt to not put too much pressure on myself. At the moment we are having renovations done at our home, and because that has been draining, I have taken a mini break from social media in order to take off pressure. We are usually our own worst enemies and funnily enough the world hasn't stopped despite my pulling back a little.

We don't really talk about retirement in our lives - we use instead the word rewirement, the re-focusing of energy more in accordance with preferences. Retirement can give such a negative impression of withdrawal from not only the workforce but from the world. For us, rewirement is a time to re-engage with the world in new ways; it can be a time of great vibrancy.

The blog has even been awarded. What was it that stood out you think?

We knew when we started the blog that there was a gap in terms of information on the non-financial aspects of retirement. We cover many aspects of life after 50 - both planning for it and living it. There is not a lot of point having pots of money if you don't have good health, happy relationships, and meaningful activities.

I think it was our holistic focus on retirement that gained us the Top Ten Australian Retirement Blog Award. As you can imagine, we were delighted.

When browsing on your blog Retiring not Shy! this caught my eye: "time management". One would think that being retired is the same as having all the time in the world. Can you develop?

Hah yes, one does expect to have all the time in the world but retirement for our generation is, and needs to be, different to that of our parents. They retired at 65 already worn out and often with a short life ahead of them. Their retirement aspirations were usually quite "domestic" with a focus on local community and family and taking it easy physically.

With the changes in family structures and a lot of breaking down of community supports, as well as living much longer lives, our generation needs to find new and personally inspiring ways of using that extended time. By and large our health is better, we are better educated and more financially secure (although that doesn't apply to everyone).

We have typically had careers which have engaged our minds and given us a sense of purpose. If we leave the workforce without any well developed plans we can quickly experience relevance deprivation syndrome and fall into depression. It is crucial to our happiness to plan activities (yes they can be leisure activities like travel) which provide personal meaning and a sense of engagement with the world. One often needs to work on relationships too if past relationships have been largely focused on the workplace. Those are all reasons to use time wisely and "productively".

Even if you have not been retired for so long, is it like you thought?

I am not sure I thought about it too much, and hence my understanding of relevance deprivation and depression, I, like many others, retired from something not to something, and that was a mistake. Having learnt that lesson we wanted to, through the blog, help others to get it right.

Nowadays my life in semi-retirement is pleasantly full with blogging, friends and family, community, travel, and activities to take care of my health. So, I guess I can say that if I had positively imagined my retirement I would have wished it to be like it is now.

So, when shall one begin to plan for the years to come being 65 and over?

That is such an individual decision. Certainly getting your financial affairs in order should start absolutely as soon as possible. Whilst I would say that money isn't everything, it is a means to an end and can create the foundation for a fabulous retirement.

The rest of the details like where to live, what to do in retirement, etcetera, may evolve over time. I recommend creating a vision board as "retirement inspiration" pops up. And of course, if you are in a relationship, have many long and honest conversations with your partner about your dreams and aspirations. Get ready to have the time of your life.