5 common regrets in retirement

Megan Giles, Retirement Transition Consultant, supports those approaching retirement to successfully transition and create a retirement they will love to live!

For many of us the thought of retirement can create a level of anxiety because we don’t know what to expect – what life will look like when work no longer consumes the majority of our waking hours and how we will define themselves when our job is no longer a key part of our identity. There are also the worries of what should retirement look like and how we should be spending our time. Rather than worry too much about the unknown, I thought it would be beneficial to learn a little more about the reflections of those who have trodden the path before us. In particular I was interested to know what retirees would do differently if they had their chance again.

As a retirement transition consultant, I spend much of my time interacting with people both navigating the transition and those settled in retirement.  The experiences shared are varied and range from loving each day to drifting aimlessly and everything in between. My goal is to support people to create a retirement they love to live and so I am sharing the most common regrets that arise during these conversations as they relate to the non-financial elements of retirement. By sharing these reflections I hope that you can take action now to create a retirement that is fulfilling and lights you up.

What are the most common regrets?

1. Not adequately planning for the additional free time

In a relationship there are two common challenges 1) that without a clear plan of what you will do together and independently, the feeling of living out of each other’s pockets can become overwhelming and you’d rather be back at work than spending time with your significant other and 2) you get swept up in the other persons plans and your own goals and desires are sidelined.

*Jane retired before John* did and soon got into a weekly rhythm that worked for her. John retired two years later and had given very little thought to what he might like to do in retirement. As a result he would follow Jane as she shopped, went to the gym whilst Jane did her PT class and would ring to find why she was late if Jane got caught up talking to someone after art class. It is not surprising that Jane started to toy with the idea of going back to work – simply so that she could have something in her life that was hers and hers alone!

Action: Put some time aside (ideally with your significant other) and articulate what will be important to you in retirement and how you might fill your days.

2. Not keeping up with technology

There are so many ways to communicate online these days – Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIn and Whatsapp just to name a few. Whilst the online world can seem daunting, not becoming familiar with these new developments can make it harder to connect with younger people, namely grandchildren.

3. Not travelling sooner in retirement

There is a tendency to postpone travelling when you’re newly retired, both because you believe that your good health will continue and you fear expending your retirement savings too soon. The reality is that you never truly know what is around the corner.

Jane* and Tom* had planned to take a 21 day cruise through South East Asia to kick off their retirement. Between weddings, grandchildren and unwell elderly parents the trip kept being postponed. Not more than two years into retirement Tom developed a significant medical condition and can no longer travel long distances. Jane doesn’t want to leave him nor travel alone.

Action: Trips don’t have to break the bank so start planning to ensure the holidays you dream of (big or small) become a reality.

4. Not taking better care of themselves

Having good health can help to ensure that retirement truly is the best time of your life. It enables you to action those items on your dream list. Unfortunately chronic pain or poor mobility can limit what you are able to do (e.g. hop in and out of a 4X4 or hike between villages in Cinque Terre)

Wendy* always imagined that retirement would include four-wheel driving through northern Australia. A seemingly innocent fall one day, however, impacted those plans. Wendy visited a GP who recommended she see a physiotherapist but wiith demanding job and busy home life, Wendy never got around to making that appointment…A couple of years later that pain hasn’t fully resolved and is exacerbated by too much walking. Wendy’s retirement dreams still involve The Kimberley but the reality is that she won’t be able to manage all of the hikes she’d planned. She’s also a little apprehensive about how much help she’ll be able to offer her husband in setting up camp.

With the average life expectancy for Australians now in the mid-80s, retirement could be a long time to simply manage rather than thrive. The good news, however, is that it’s never too late to start making positive changes to your health.

Action: Whether you have retired or are thinking about it, talk with your GP about the things you can do to ensure the best quality of life for you.

5. Holding grudges

After a significant disagreement you may not want to be the one to offer the olive branch for fear of being seen as weak or wrong. By not forgiving others (particularly those close to us), however, that grudge can become all-consuming when you suddenly have more free time at your disposal. And not only that, but anger detracts from the good things in life– what has time for that?! Furthermore, strong relationships and networks are an asset because like it or not, as we age we become more dependent on others

Action: Make the first move and offer to reconnect with that person you have been distancing yourself from

Don’t let retirement happen to you or opportunities pass you by – learn from the experiences of others and take action to create a retirement that you love to live!

*Names changed

The key to success for the people who work with Megan is structured planning, looking beyond the finances, harnessing opportunities, informed decision making and tailored action. For more information visit, www.megangiles.com.

Article created in partnership with Over60.