We are a new generation and are doing 50+ better than ever before. More interesting experiences, more health support, more power and control over our lives and most importantly much more fun. What are your dreams or aspirations? Retirement doesn’t have to follow stereotypes of knitting and rocking chairs, it’s time to redefine retirement.
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Here’s how to start your journey and make your dreams a reality just like Lynn Ruth Miller, 83, the worlds oldest female stand-up comic who says she started doing comedy when she was 71 (because she didn’t want to peak too soon).
“If you love what you are doing then why stop? Until you can’t do it anymore. Until you are not as efficient as you should be. And the trick is recognising that,” says this effervescent fire-cracker.
She adds with a cheeky smile, “Attitude is everything, right?! I got my attitude from my mother which is why I’ve been in therapy for 75 years.”
Not letting anything get in the way of her dreams, Lynn’s happy philosophy is; “Life is like a card game. You take the hand you get and you play it.”
So, what is next for Lynn? “My dream right now is to tour the world and show people that I’m still an item and that they can be too. My bucket list is huge. I want to go throughout the continent. I want to go throughout the world and I want to make people laugh.”
She adds with an enigmatic smile, “I’m not here to tell people what to dream. I’m here to open the door so that they can find their own dream.”
It really is time to think about ourselves and retirement differently and open the door to your own dreams.
Some people automatically think of retirement as being all about what you stop doing rather than what you start doing. Perhaps the word ‘retirement’ itself has become an oxymoron.
A thesaurus will tell you that ‘retire’ means to give up, stop, step down, retreat and withdraw. The reality is that more and more Australians are discovering that their 50+ years are all about advancing, joining, arriving, starting and increasing. There has never been more choice. What is the right choice for you? Will you choose to work part-time? Finally start your own small business? Travel the world? Or perfect your golf game?
Retirement really is being redefined
Life 50+ is a celebration of freedom, an opportunity to launch into new ventures and a chance to break the stereotype that you are destined only to spend your days reclined in a rocking chair.
Let’s face it; as a society we are living longer than ever. By the time you reach 65, if you are a male you can expect an average 20 years of life still to come and for females it’s over 22 years. Of course, these are averages, not maximums. That’s way too long to simply put your feet up!
What’s more, healthcare advancements are now empowering us to enjoy and engage with life, not just survive it. The options for living life after work have never been better either, so now is the time to design your retirement and make the rest of your life the best of your life.
Retirement really is the perfect time to do the things you have always wanted to do, but have never had the time. It is the time to follow your dreams big or small.
Let’s lay the myths to rest
Society can sometimes impose stereotypes on what retirement should be – often these are misguided and outdated, so let’s tackle these myths head on.
The first key to planning a successful retirement is realising that you won’t magically become a different person. You will still have the same knowledge, values, experiences, relationships and habits. What makes you happy now is the same as what makes you happy in retirement – it’s just that you will have more time to devote to it. Chances are that sitting idly and watching the grass grow will not be a part of this! Retirement can and should be an opportunity to amplify all the things that make life meaningful, enjoyable and fun.
Retirement is an opportunity to try new things and make the most of your new life chapter
Another important myth to dispel is that you don’t have to live up to anyone else’s expectations. If you have ever looked at a brochure about retirement, for example, you could be forgiven for thinking that all retirees do is travel. It seems to be the default image that marketers feed us about retirement and it can skew our view.
While travel can be a very enjoyable activity in retirement, you are likely to spend a lot more time at home doing the things that you like and are familiar with. Once we grasp this fact it brings into focus the need to plan to make the most of every day and avoid taking a passive approach.
A great retirement starts with great planning
Planning is critical to maximising what you enjoy in retirement. It’s never too late to start planning, but the sooner you do it, the more beneficial it will be. Try not to wait until you are retired before you decide what you want to do.
The things that make you happy now are likely to the things that make you happy in retirement too. Your family life, your social life, the pastimes you look forward to and the mental stimulation you enjoy; these are the things that should be at the centre of your planning.
With that in mind, here are six things to consider including in your retirement plans to make life happy, fulfilling and rewarding:
1. Talk to your spouse: One of the most common retirement planning mistakes is to make assumptions about what your partner is expecting from retirement. You might be surprised how different their view is! Being honest about what you both want to do is a vital first step, so that misunderstandings can be addressed early and joint goals agreed upon.
2. People are the centre of our happiness: Relationships and emotions are the major component of life before retirement, so why should this change after retirement? You’ll have more time to spend with family and friends, so make a commitment in your planning to set aside time for family activities, helping out with grandchildren, catching up with friends and other social engagement, such as clubs and group activities.
3. Seek and seize spontaneous moments: While it’s important to have planned activities and interactions, it’s equally important to be ready for the unexpected and to risk being impulsive every now and then. If a friend calls to ask you to go to a movie, say yes even if it upsets your routine. If you suddenly hear of a festival, concert or event that’s happening in a country town, take the chance for a spontaneous short break away. Being open to the unexpected opportunities is what can really spice things up.
Take advantage of opportunities or create new opportunities. Carpe diem!
4. A magnificent tree never stops growing: So why should you? Think of all the things skills and knowledge you have gleaned through life and how much enjoyment that has given you. That thirst to learn and grow doesn’t and shouldn’t stop just because you retire. Actively seek out learning opportunities and don’t stop at your typical areas of interest – take a course on something you are not so good at and be surprised at how fulfilling and energising it is to push your boundaries.
5. Let’s get physical: Lack of time is no longer an excuse! Make it part of your plan to have regular daily physical improvement. A simple 30 minute walk on most days of the week can be a baseline, but supplement this with other physical activities to make it interesting. Don’t stop at just aerobic exercise – include strength, balance and flexibility activities. These are vital for healthy ageing.
6. The more you give, the more you receive: Using your time to help others can be one of the most rewarding ways to foster retirement happiness. Help a grandchild with homework, give a friend a hand with spring cleaning their garage, teach a course at the local community college, get involved at the local men’s shed, volunteer at a church or charity – your experience and knowledge are valuable to others and putting those skills to use will pay dividends of a fulfilling retirement life.
Your finances are central
Having the time to do things and planning what you want to do are critical components, but organising your finances properly is essential to relieving you of stress and allowing you to focus on what’s important. Your super is a central this. Building a substantial nest egg before retirement can liberate you to create the ideal retirement lifestyle and structuring your income and capital spending in retirement can ensure your money lasts longer and bests serves the way you want to live.
Like any part of retirement planning, you should act as soon as possible to get your financial planning organised for worry free retirement living. If you find this aspect overwhelming, don’t be afraid to ask for help; a financial planner can help you create a plan that will match your retirement activities and needs and take the worry out of the future.
It’s your time to shine
There are no rules and no limits – your retirement is your time to shine and the possibilities and opportunities are endless. Forget the old stereotypes and ignore the nay sayers; seize the chance to design a retirement that squeezes the very best from life. You deserve it and with the right planning you can achieve it.
What’s your secret to a happier life or retirement? Share your ideas below.