Category Archives for Wellness

Retirement’s coming – ready or not!

Three challenges and tips to overcome them…

We may be over 50, over 60 or even older when retirement looms, but one day it will arrive, whether we’re ready or not.

We might have carefully timed our retirement or retirement might be foisted upon us in an unplanned way through redundancy, retrenchment or health / family issues. The process of retiring can be a challenge, whatever the circumstances and regardless of our financial position. Here are 3 common challenges and simple ideas about how we can meet them.

Sense of loss

Retiring is not just about clearing one’s desk and walking out with a box of personal knick-knacks. On one hand we may be mentally high kicking at all that freedom, but on the other hand, retiring’s an ending, so naturally it can be accompanied by sense of loss, even grief. Feelings of loss may be triggered because we are leaving a great team, altering well established connections with colleagues, forged by sharing workplace and personal challenges and successes, life’s highs and lows.

Often there is an opportunity to mark the moment with a retirement event, ranging from a formal dinner to an informal small 10 minute get together – one that suits the person retiring. Such rites of passage help manage the emotional transition for all concerned and provide an opportunity to express mutual appreciation.

Retirement events often require a retirement speech, a word of thanks. It’s an opportunity to reflect on what and who we will miss, our achievements and changes we’ve seen in our working life. We can share some interesting anecdotes and advice gleaned from our experiences, acknowledge collective endeavours and importantly, show our appreciation for colleagues and family support.

As we retire, if we acknowledge the gifts that work has provided, it’s possible that our sense of gratefulness may temper our sense of loss.

Heydays’ Tips

  • Think about what you’ll miss about work and how you can show appreciation for it
  • Plan a retirement function to mark the occasion
  • Acknowledge those who’ve helped you through your career in person or by letter
  • Include close family and friends as you mark retirement

Identity crisis

Feelings of confusion may arise as we let go of a defined work role. We’ve had a title, we stood for something, we were known for our skills, approach and knowledge, for what we contributed. We’ve had authority, we could get things done. In social settings we’ve had a ready response when someone asks “and what do you do?” Now we’re not sure, how to reply, we may be treated differently, no one approaches us for our skills and knowledge. An identity crisis may ensue.

Belonging to a group is an important contributor to one’s psychological health and having a role within a group can provide personal clarity and a sense of security. Part of the challenge in retiring is to recast your position. In addition to family, we can consider the groups we may already be part of, or may wish to join, and possible roles we can play in those groups. It may be as simple as being a regular member of 4th grade team in the tennis completion for your local club. It could be being a lead volunteer for the local parks and wildlife association.

Alternatively, we could become known for a specific skill or knowledge base that gives us standing with a community. Whatever we choose, being part of one or more groups or contributing through a specific role, is a great way to reshape part of our identity.  And for fun, why not create a new title that suits our lifestyle? Wildlife Volunteer? Trainee Surfer? Family Poobah? Community Philosopher? The sky’s the limit.

Heydays’ Tips

  • Join a club/association or group aligned to your interests or skills
  • Take up an active role in a group
  • Offer your skills to an organisation as a volunteer or casual employee
  • Give yourself a creative title that describes your new status

Lack of purpose

When we are working we have usually have a routine, set work times that keep our days structured and predictable. Our work’s mission is usually set by leaders of our organisation and priorities are often decided by others. For many of us considering retiring, work seems known and comfortable – a lot of decisions have been made for us.

As we retire, we will be setting our own agenda and timetable (in consultation with loved ones of course!). Not just for the working week but for up to the next 30 years of our life. That’s a large blank canvas to work with so it’s nor surprising that some fear a lack of purpose and shape to their retirement.

Reaching retirement provides an opportunity for us to re-assess our priorities and reflect on what is important to us, what really matters. It allows us to shape up our time based on these things and select activities that align with our interests. It may even influence our choice of holidays and the pattern of our days. For instance, if I’m interested in landscape photography I might venture into dramatic landscapes in specific seasons and even at specific times of the day or night to get the shots I’m after.

So, by allowing ourselves some space to re-group we can decide on priorities and interests we wish to pursue and make these our part of our purpose.  This will provide us with ideas of how to shape our days, weeks and even months.

For those of us who like the SMART goal approach often used at work, there’s nothing to stop us having some SMART goals in retirement. It may seem ironic to some of us to use it in retirement but there’s nothing to say we cannot use the tools we’ve gained whilst working, to make the rest of our lives the best of our lives. It’s just that we may not sweat the deadlines as we used to!

Heydays’ Tips

  • Give yourself space to re-prioritise your activities
  • Identify some interests you wish to pursue, set yourself some goals or challenges
  • Think about the shape of your retirement week and how you want to spend your time
  • Apply the SMART principles to your retirement goals

Use your support crew

In this blog we’ve stepped through 3 of the challenges we face as we consider retiring. Whilst everyone will find their own way through these challenges, seeking support from close family and friends is a no-brainer. They know us better than we know ourselves in some cases, and will have useful insights about our preferences and style that may help us navigate our way through this exciting transition.

For more tips, download the free Heydays Roadmap to Retirement where I share my ‘must do’ preparation steps. Soon you’ll be closer to the retirement of your dreams.

#worklifebalance #retire #neverretire #dontwanttoretire #whentoretire #leavingwork #meaningofwork #purposeafterwork #Iammywork #retirehappy

To spend or not to spend, that is the question

Are we planning to retire and enjoy our remaining time, spending as we go, leaving nothing for our kids? Or are we going to curb spending, eke out our retirement savings and leave them an inheritance?

To spend…

Older people should enjoy their retirement and not worry about leaving an inheritance, according to most respondents in the ANU Ageing and Money Poll. “Quite right” the SKI (Spending the Kids’ Inheritance) brigade say. Indeed, at Heydays we recognise that some of us will use retirement savings to (select those that apply): freshen up the house, get a new car, see more of the world, go to more shows, learn new languages / crafts / skills, pursue hobbies, keep fit, spend time with family and friends and find a way to give back to the community.

We are healthier and living longer, so there’s a whole range of activities that call us and will part us from our hard-earned cash: treks, cycle tours, cruises, cultural tours, beaches holidays, bush and city breaks, gadgets, clothing and of course a myriad of ways to enhance our wellbeing!

Speaking of health, as we age, some of that retirement nest egg may be directed towards health care, supplementing independent living with in-home support, or even paying for more constant medical care. The days of our children being just around the corner, able to pop in and see how the ‘oldies’ are getting on, are long gone. In this shrinking world, the kids could be anywhere! So we are more likely to need to fend for ourselves and one another in our dotage.

Evidently there are many ways that the potential inheritance pot, whatever its size, can and should be used… and that’s OK because most people in the ANU Ageing and Money Poll agreed that retirees should enjoy retirement rather than worry about leaving an inheritance, right?

… Or not to spend

Not so fast! In a seeming contradiction, in the same poll, three in four Australians aged under 65 think it is likely they will receive an inheritance through property or other significant assets. Something does not add up here: whilst the majority of those polled think retirees should enjoy themselves and not worry about leaving an inheritance, when it comes to individual expectations, we expect to get an inheritance. Our kids may well be among those who assume they will receive an inheritance.

The inheritance conversation

As we approach retirement, planning how to manage our money through the next 25+ years will be a real challenge. Given that loved ones may be expecting to receive an inheritance, we need to gauge first up whether there is likely to be anything left in the coffers for them – after we have allowed for all of our other needs. And then we can have the inheritance conversation with them so they know what to expect.

At Heydays we’d love to hear: how are you managing the inheritance conversation? Do you have a plan to leave assets to your children? Has this even entered your thinking?

#inheritanceconversation #babyboomers #nestegg #spendingthekidsinheritance #retire #retiring #superannuation #familywealth #ageing #retirementincome #retirementsaving #super #pension

Loss and letting go – a personal story

As well as writing about the issues that face us as we get close to retirement, I’d like to share with you some personal reflections about aspects of this stage of life that I’ve experienced. I’m re-publishing an article I first shared in 2016. 

In the midst of planning a retirement lifestyle and how best to enjoy all that life has to offer, there is often loss. Not just loss of work, of a role, even an identity and connections with colleagues, but also the loss associated with parents aging and, yes, dying. So preparing for retirement can be tempered by experiences of loss and letting go.

Alzheimer’s – a thief

My Dad was 85 when Mum, his partner for nearly 70 years, died. Actually, it felt as if she’d left us some time before, as by stealth Alzheimer’s had progressively clouded her memory, stolen her personality and eventually snatched away her joy of life. It took its toll on Dad, who cared for her over 15 inexorable years, until just before her death. He was stoic.

After Mum died Dad was exhausted. He’d cared for her for so long, then coped with the emotional and logistical business of the funeral. He’d read her eulogy and responded with a hand written card to every one of the condolence messages he received. Dad insisted on doing these things as a way of sharing with everyone what Mum was really like. So they would know and remember her as she was before illness gradually erased her character, until she was a mere sketch of the woman she’d been.

I’m relieved that she has been released from the horrible confusion and mental dullness of her last years. But I miss Mum. I miss her great zest for life, her love of a clear blue sky and her ever positive outlook. She was interested in most people she met, was a natural teacher and loved children. Mum liked to be outdoors and active, swimming and walking in most weathers. She read and recited poetry, enjoyed word games. She had a tenacious strength that saw her sailing with Dad even when she disliked being cooped up. And Mum was a defender, a tigress when it came to all matters concerning our family.

Living and grieving

Dad grieved quietly. He talked about her sometimes and got teary. He found it difficult to sleep without her and the house has a different energy these days. Dad dealt with cleaning out Mum’s clothes, handing on her jewellery and the practicalities of her will. He visited her lawn grave, putting fresh flowers there and sitting quietly for a while in the peace of the cemetery, surrounded by trees, before walking home.

Nearly a year on, Dad asked my brother, Martin, and I for help with a headstone. Apparently, after a burial in this part of the world it can take up to a year for the earth to settle enough for a headstone to be set and grass seed sown around. We met at the front of the stone masons where there were around 100 old, mossy and water poked headstones lined up ready to have another name added, representing 100 recent deaths. It was quite shocking when your see death represented like that.

We agree on simple wording, name dates, and “Rest in peace” and also to leave a space for Dad’s name and dates with “Reunited” underneath. Martin and I are teary. I watched Dad and he seemed fine, even as he made provision for his own demise.

A year after Mum died, Dad took down the mementos he’d kept of the funeral and put them in the box where they kept all their cards and letters. Looking at them you can chart their relationship, from the poetry Dad wrote before they married (quite a feat as he’s more the engineering type) until right up to Mum’s death. But Mum stopped writing cards as she got worse, so towards the end it was a bit lopsided.

After that Dad wanted a quiet time, watching sport on TV, spending time with family and catching up with friends. It was time for him to look after himself and once again take enjoyment in simple pleasures: connections with loved ones, sitting in the sun, walking by the sea and keeping the house in order. Time to redress the balance of all that caring as he gently celebrated the life he still grasped with both hands.

#healthyageing #healthspan #lifespan#ageing #ageingparents #grief #Alzheimer’s #dementia #babyboomers #fiftyplus #retirement

First published in 2016.

Retiring early – Scott’s story

Meet Scott, our switched on Uber driver on a recent trip to the Gold Coast.  Here he is with his family enjoying a cruise. He retired early but it’s not always what it seems.

Entrepreneur – take 1

By November 2016 Scott had been running his manufacturing business for over 25 years, employing up to 15 staff at times. He and his wife were living in Melbourne, bringing up 2 young children. They felt comfortable financially – they had security.

However, Scott was working six and half days a week and this took a heavy toll on his physical and mental health. When Scott was just 41, his doctor told him his work rate and lifestyle were potentially a deadly mix – his was at risk of a heart attack or a stroke.

Scott and his wife knew financial security was of little use to the family if Scott wasn’t around to enjoy it with them. They decided to downshift – swapping the good income and frenetic lifestyle with lower overheads and a slower pace of life.

Entrepreneur – take 2

Although they didn’t have a clear plan, Scott and family sold up and moved to the Gold Coast.  Now Scott supports his family through a mix of Uber and Private Transfer driving along with Private Tours of the Gold Coast and the surrounding areas. Scott says that while there is less money coming in, their overheads have also reduced so he stresses less about making ends meet. He’s learnt not to worry about things he cannot control – now he just lets them happen.

Balance

Scott’s learnt a few things from downshifting: he knows he’s more relaxed and happier when he slows down and enjoys what’s going on around him and that he doesn’t need to earn thousands of dollars to have a happy life.

Scott’s advice for people thinking of retiring or downshifting is to embrace it and enjoy it. “I’m currently on ‘Pause’ as I like to say. I have taken some time to recharge and realise what’s important. I ‘m really enjoying this phase with Work / Life Balance and will try to continue having it”

Going to the Gold Coast? You can book Scott to drive you or take you on a tour, through  Scott Edwards My Driver Direct on Facebook

Scotts cars

#downshift #retireearly #refire #encorecareer #heydays #worklifebalance #babyboomer #recharge #lifestyle

Simple guide to keeping our marbles

Book Review: Don’t miss the bus!

Author: Reg Lipman

This simple book creeps up on you. It packs a punch using everyday language, cartoons and easy-to-read tables to get the message across – there are things you can do to avoid ‘missing the bus’.

In “Don’t miss the bus” Reg Lipman takes us through scientific discoveries about the mind/body connection and brain plasticity, to demonstrate that by changing our habits we can reduce the likelihood of loosing our marbles or at the least delay it.

I’m amazed this book has not made more impact. Self-published, it does  not have the promotion machine of a publishing house behind it – a surprise, as it warrants it. Reg Lipman, who passed away in 2015, had great credentials to write this book. He had succeeded in many fields including the military, banking, writing, breeding horses and establishing a travel company. He must have been onto something!

The book, recommended by Alzheimer’s Australia, steps through the consequences of our daily decisions and provides straightforward ideas of how to tweak what we eat, how we exercise and how we use our brains to help ward off dementia, including Alzheimer’s.

Recommended for those reluctant to be defined by their age, the book can be bought through Alzheimer’s Australia

Download my free Heydays Roadmap to Retirement where I share my ‘must do’ preparation steps. Soon you’ll be closer to the retirement of your dreams.