Why is it that people are reluctant to plan for retirement? The average person spends more time planning an overseas holiday than they do retirement.

Is it because the word retirement conjures up images of growing old and dying? Or do we minimize the importance of planning because we perceive retirement as an eternal holiday?

When Did the Idea of Retirement Start?

In 1889, when Otto von Bismarck put some of his senior officers on pension at 65, after many years of hard manual labor, they were only expected to live a year or two. They had earned a couple years of relaxation.

On the other hand, we who are approaching 65 in the 21st Century, have a 50% chance of living 30 to 40 years after retiring.

Yet, people only focus on the financial aspect. Sure, the finances are a crucial pillar of our retirement plan, but this is not the only aspect we need to consider.

Even if you have plenty of money to fund a 40-year-long retirement, it does not guarantee your life will have a purpose, meaning or relevance and that you won’t die of boredom.

A Retirement Plan Is More Important Than a Financial Plan

In my exploration of the things one needs to think about when drawing up a retirement plan I came to write my book.

Called 7 Questions to Answer Before You Retire: Simple Steps to Finding Purpose and Meaning in Your Life’s Next Chapter, the book unpacks 6 major areas of life affected by retirement and aging, and the last chapter discusses the question “Who can help me with this?”

Here are the 6 areas of life that I consider to be important when planning retirement and aging.

  • Where do I want to live when I am old and frail?
  • How do I turn my investment capital into steady income?
  • What do I need to do if my income is insufficient to maintain my standard of living?
  • What should I do about my health?
  • How will I structure my life to give it purpose?
  • How do I build a new social network?

Retirement Is a Journey, Not an Event

On my 60th birthday, I walked away from a job that had become untenable. I was plunged overnight into retirement – 5 years earlier than I had planned. I was totally unprepared, but the learning points I gleaned from this event are that it is beneficial to do the planning before the actual retirement date.

Retirement should be a journey and not an event, but because I was unable to make a smooth transition, it turned into an event for me, initially. I have learned to be practical and systematic and to understand that quality of life is an over-arching factor.

How prepared are you for aging and retirement? What area of life are you most concerned about as you get a little older? Please use the comment box below to share with the community.

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