Are You Ready for Retirement? Ask Yourself These Questions to Find Out
The term retirement dates to 1889, and is rapidly becoming an obsolete term. It was first used for soldiers who were pensioned off during the reign of Otto von Bismark in 1889. In that century men were expected to live two years after turning 65.
In 2017, Wikipedia still refers to retirement as the time when we stop working. Who, in 2017, can afford to stop working at 65 when they may well have another 30 years to live? Not many of us.
Many don’t want to move into a full-time life of leisure. Where will we find our identity, purpose and meaning?
We Experience a Shift in Our 60s
Yet as we reach our 60s, whether we continue working or not, there is a shift, a change in pace, as though we ratchet the gears down a notch.
It may be as simple as approaching life differently, through wiser and more experienced eyes. Most of us see the bigger picture more clearly and think more strategically than we did when we were younger. In general, we tone down the active, physical life.
How Prepared Are You?
Let’s utilize a well-known coaching tool, geared specifically to the context of how prepared you are for the changes that will take place in your 60s.
Please rate your own preparedness on a scale of 1 to 10, giving each of the following factors a rating, where 1 is “I have not even thought about it,” and 10 is “I have it all planned out.”
Are you reasonably fit and healthy so that you can keep active for as long as possible? Do you participate in any regular exercise? Do you eat healthily? Are you aware of what you need to supplement as you age?
Are you mentally active and keeping your memory agile? Are you learning new things or participating in mentally-stimulating activities? Do you read, surf the internet or attend lectures to stimulate your brain?
Is your marriage/partnership ready for one or both of you to stay home seven days a week? How are you coping with the empty nest? Are you making plans together for your life ahead?
How prepared are you for ageing? Are your beliefs and values aligned towards the process of ageing? Do you feel the need to find meaning in life or find your purpose as you approach the last phase of your life?
Do you know how much money you will have for retirement? Will you need to supplement it? Do you know what your monthly living costs are/will be? Are you covered for increasing medical expenses as you age?
Have you thought about where you would like to live when you start ageing? Can you afford care in your own home? What would happen if you were to fall and break a leg? Should you down-size your home?
Is your social network wide enough to carry your needs when you find yourself with seven days to fill? Do you have people in your social network who will keep you young in spirit? What support systems do you have?
What is going to provide structure to your day? What is going to get you out of bed in the morning? What will give your life purpose, and help you feel like you are growing and contributing to society?
Anything under a score of 5 indicates the areas that still require some attention. There are no correct answers, but the assessment should give you some idea as to how prepared you are and which areas you personally need to work on.
How many of your ratings are over 6? Ratings under 5 should become your priority areas to consider.
Where Should You Focus Your Attention?
Now you have a clear indication of the areas that need your attention. Most people focus exclusively on the financial aspects of retirement in their preparation. They do not give any special attention to their adjustment to a new lifestyle, one which is not held together by employment. Can you afford to put your head in the sand and simply hope retirement is going to be fun and relaxing?
Yet, this should be the time in your life when you get to do what you want to do – no longer being tied to a 35-60-hour working week and the children no longer dependent on you financially. But it can also be the most depressing, boring time of your life if you do not have any structure or purpose.
One client told me how boring his friends became once they retired, and he was afraid he would be the same. He realized he needed to find some meaningful activity that would give his life purpose.
Another client, though still working part-time, was having difficulty finding purpose in the days when she was not working. She took courses at the local university, but that was not providing the meaningful interaction with people that she desired. She found she needed to work on widening her social circle.
If you are uncertain about what you want to focus on, I offer coaching sessions to help you prioritize.
Which areas do you need to prioritize in your life? What was your score in the test? Did this simple test give you some insight to your preparedness for retirement? Please share your thoughts below!