Making A Positive Transition To Retirement

Mother and daughter baking and laughing together

Everyone handles the transition to retirement differently. Some of us are counting down the days until we can leave the workforce for good. Then, there are those of us who are looking forward to having more time for the things we enjoy but can’t bear the thought of leaving our jobs.

It’s no secret that us Brits are hard workers, so it’s perfectly normal for our jobs to become a big part of who we are. In fact, it’s no wonder many people find it challenging to bite the bullet and retire - whether that means packing up your desk, hanging up your hard hat or putting away your uniform one last time. Here’s how to make a positive transition to retirement...

Financial preparation

We don’t want to dwell too much on money, so we’ll keep this short and sweet; financial planning and saving for retirement is something that you can act on years in advance. We are now living longer than ever. Not only that but it seems savings are barely keeping up with inflation.

Some common types of funds that retirees have at hand are pension pots, retirement savings, health insurance, emergency funds, pre-paid funeral plans and life insurance.

Now, we’re by no means saying you have to have all of these things. But reviewing the plans you’ve made, you can identify what’s worth prioritising.

Beyond financial preparation

It can be hard to know where to start. When planning for retirement pops up in conversation, our minds tend to jump to financial planning alone. Have you considered that there’s more to preparing for retirement than pensions and savings? Yes, good money management will help you to accomplish your goals but it’s not the only thing you need to focus on.

Retirement can affect our minds and our emotions. Some even say retirement affects their sense of identity. But there are many positives to retirement and there can be a lot to look forward to. Not only that but there are steps you can take to make the transition to retirement smoother. Here are some tips on how to tackle some common challenges you might face when retiring.

Plan and set goals

We all have goals and dreams that we’d love to achieve and retirement gives us the time we need to do just that. Goal setting gives us something to look forward to and something to work towards. However, making these goals a reality will require careful planning.

A great way to achieve retirement goals is by using the SMART method which allows you to set clearly defined goals that are realistically achievable. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.

  • Specific: Well defined, clear.
  • Measurable: There must be specific criteria that measure your progress towards the accomplishment of the goal. (i.e. money put away each month, pounds lost, miles ran)
  • Achievable: It is realistically attainable, it’s not impossible to achieve.
  • Realistic: It’s within reach, realistic, and relevant.
  • Timely: Have a clearly defined timeline, including a starting date and a target end date.

Here’s a scenario:

Joan is retiring next year. She decides that she would like to go on a cruise with her best friend Anne during this time. She works out that she can afford to put away £120 per month until her retirement next year, after which she can put away £25 per month. She decides that going in May three years from now is realistic, timely and achievable. Joan’s goal is specific and it can be measured by checking if she has reached her monthly savings targets within the given time frame.

This method can be helpful when planning each aspect of your retirement from finances to shedding a few pounds, travelling abroad, or teaching yourself a new skill.

Make time for friends and family

When we retire, sometimes we can feel a little bit lonely. It’s important to make sure you make time to see those closest to you. When you think about it, this is the perfect time to catch up with old friends. Human connection is important to our happiness and our health so don’t forget to keep in touch with those who bring a smile to your face.

Maintain a routine

Routine is important because, without it, we risk falling into a slump. Maintaining a daily routine helps us combat feelings of boredom, retirement anxiety and negative feelings.

Structure your days and make plans to keep busy. Schedule set times for daily chores and activities like shopping, exercising, social activities and so on. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be a rigid schedule!

Stay fit and keep busy

Having an abundance of free time might be a shock to your system, so be sure to keep busy. If you don’t already have hobbies, consider taking one up. One of the best things about retirement is spending time on activities that are genuinely enjoyable. Why not polish up those golf clubs or get back into swimming? Being active will keep your mind happy and your body fit and healthy.

Downsize or change career

Some people ease into retirement by gradually cutting down their work hours or by moving into a less demanding line of work.

If you have a specific skill set, could it be used to make some independent income when you leave work? Are there opportunities for you to take on any part-time work? Could you take on a teaching or consultancy role in your area of work?

The point we’re trying to make is that If you’re hesitant to jump right into retirement, you can always consider alternative options.

Make a budget that suits your new lifestyle

Making your savings last for a significant amount of time can be challenging. Create a budget that will suit a reduced income but allows for the accomplishment of retirement plans.

If you have an existing budget, you can make changes to reflect your new lifestyle when the time comes. For instance, you might get to re-distribute funds from your daily commute or other work-related expenses. Some people downsize their home or trade-in their car for something smaller and more fuel-efficient.

There are lots of senior citizen discounts you can take advantage of when you reach a certain age. You may be able to get free public transport, discounted cinema trips, sports facility discounts etc.

Maintain a positive attitude

Although sometimes change can be scary, it isn’t always a bad thing. Fear of the unknown might leave us feeling uneasy about retiring but if you decide to maintain a positive attitude, you’ll find the true joy in retiring.

Don’t put pressure on yourself to have it all figured out straight away. Like all life’s milestones, there will be a period of adjustment. Take your time in figuring it all out. And if things become overwhelming remember that it’s normal to feel a little bit worried about a big change in your circumstances.

You’ve worked hard all your life, now’s your chance to stop and smell the roses! It’s time to take it all in, embrace the change and stay positive.

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