Getting “Retirement Ready”
It’s more than just financial preparation.
Mention retirement planning and more often than not, people’s thoughts turn straight to financial planning and pension provision. Scratch the surface, however, and people’s concerns can run a little deeper than financial fears. There is more to consider as we embark on this transitional life stage than counting one’s pennies. Yet, this is generally the area where employers feel most obliged to support their staff.
The reality is that retirement – as with all transitions in life – can be a time of great upheaval emotionally, psychologically and physically. For that reason, it is equally as important for people to consider the non-financial implications of their move from the workplace into the new life stage of retirement.
A survey published by the Retirement Planning Council of Ireland in November 2014 indicated that half of people approaching retirement did not feel ready to retire. Feelings of apprehension, worry and concern were dominant despite the fact that more than two-thirds of the same group have some kind of financial provision in place and believe they will be financially secure when they retire. This implies that something else beyond financial planning is at play, causing feelings of uneasiness.
Our wellbeing at any stage in life is dependent on balancing three elements – prosperity or finance, health and happiness. When we retire we undergo a transition process through which almost every aspect of our life will change, regardless of career history or professional background. This can have a major impact on our happiness levels. Our daily routine, the amount of spare time we have, our social networks and personal relationships will all shift dramatically. Our role in society, the status that often goes along with that role and the way that might have shaped our personal identity can also be affected. As we grow older we also need to focus more upon our health and how we manage it. Failure to recognise these lifestyle changes – let alone plan for them – can lead to a very difficult existence.
Encouragingly, the same Retirement Planning Council research has also highlighted that once people had taken the time to consider the lifestyle changes ahead and understand how they might deal with them, they felt significantly more upbeat about their retirement. A remarkable 95% of people felt excited, positive and optimistic about their retirement upon completion of a retirement planning course focusing on the psychological, physical and financial elements of retirement.
Undeniably, financial preparation for retirement is vital but without consideration for the lifestyle shift, many people will struggle to adapt to their new way of life. Tending to the psychological portfolio is equally as important as building the financial one and giving some serious time and thought to preparing oneself will go a long way to smoothing the transition into this new life stage.
Elizabeth Carvill is Head of Development at the Retirement Planning Council of Ireland, an independent not-for-profit organisation working with more than 400 organisations to support their staff as they approach retirement by delivering a range of practical pre-retirement courses. See www.rpc.ie for more information