Future Life Plan – Do You Have One? by Liz Watt

We meticulously plan so many aspects of our lives. It starts at an early age – one of the first questions you’ll hear an adult asking any child who can speak is what they want to be when they grow up, the first inkling that most of us will have that there is a bigger picture beyond the confines of our narrow childhood world. Then there is the endless planning that marks the transition from school to University or further education ; the thought and effort that goes into career planning; the intricate detail that is involved in organising the ‘big ticket’ events in life – significant birthdays and celebrations, holidays; and even the more mundane ‘what’s for dinner tonight?’ type of planning.

And yet one area of our lives that is often significantly under planned, or suffers from a lack of deep thought and attention, is what the plan is for life post retirement. Or should I say pre-retirement? As the concept of traditional retirement rapidly evolves, the consideration should be what life might look like post 55 – 60.

An increasing numbers of us are finding ourselves in the position of considering our options at a far earlier stage than previous generations, especially as there is quite likely to be a gap between when we finish conventional employment and when pensions (state or otherwise) kick in. This may be an enforced situation – eg redundancy, or driven by health or family issues; it may be that one experiences a growing realisation that life in the corporate world is no longer as fulfilling and ambitions wane; or one may be in the fortunate position that financially suddenly it is possible to change tack.

Whatever the reason, the reality is that having made the decision to change direction, or retire, many are blind-sided by the question ‘Now What? ‘ Lack of planning can leave a huge gap between the world that was, and the reality that is now. The consequent issues can include boredom, loneliness, ill health, loss of purpose and direction and often financial hardship.

If at all possible I think it makes good sense to start thinking about what your future life might look like a couple of years before the change takes place. That way, you have the time to mentally acclimatize and put the practical steps in place – for example to undertake a good financial health check. You can also consider whether you still want to work and if so, in what capacity? Part time? Consultancy? Do you want to change tack completely and re-train? Or would you like to find some form of employment that simply provides company and a supplementary form of income?

If you aren’t working how will you fill your time? It is worth thinking about what your interests and passions are and how you might develop these. Or maybe there is an unfulfilled ambition or interest that you would like to focus on. It may be that charity work or volunteering are on your agenda. Then there is travel, time with family and friends, and some well-deserved down time to weave into the mix. For most people it will be a combination of all of the above!

In my experience, though, it is those with a sense of purpose that make the most successful transition. Everyone is different and the same plan won’t work for everybody. And undoubtedly there will be some trial and error involved. I have seen some people convinced that they will just want to potter at home find that they are bored senseless and have to return to work; others who had grand plans and find that actually they were far too ambitious. But undoubtedly the happiest and most fulfilled pre-retirees are those that have thought about the change, embrace the opportunities and challenges and go into it with a sense or curiosity about what might be possible.

If you are at the stage of considering your future life, but aren’t quite sure how to go about planning for this next stage and would like some help, you might like to consider my Future Life retirement planning programme. If you would like further information, please contact me Liz Watt – at bltcoaching1@gmailcom.

And if you are an employer looking to help your team with pre-retirement planning, I run Future Life learning lunches. If you would like to find out more, please contact me : bltcoaching1@gmailcom.

 

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