Approaching retirement? Here are 5 practical ways to prepare for the emotional change

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Planning for retirement often focuses on the practical, financial elements of change. But retiring is an emotional shift that can also be prepared for.

Thinking about how retirement might take shape, before the time arrives, can help ease the way into a work-free life. So, here are a few useful things to ask yourself before you retire.

1. Do I want to stop working entirely?

In recent years, retirement has changed and now presents more options. You no longer have to set a retirement date and stop work entirely.

Pension Freedoms, introduced in 2015, presents flexible ways for how and when you can use pension savings. Also, many employers now offer a transitional period, sometimes spread over several years.

This may allow you to work part-time and become accustomed to having more time on your hands before you stop working completely.

If you’re a business owner, making your retirement a gradual process can help increase the value of your business. Instead of walking out on a set day, transitioning slowly into retirement can also allow time to ensure the succession process goes smoothly.

2. How do I want to spend my time?

Work occupies far more time than anything else most of us do in life. In retirement, there’ll suddenly be a huge amount of free time. This prospect may feel exciting, but also a little daunting.

Planning ahead for how you’d like to fill the hours when you’re no longer working will help give structure to otherwise empty days.

After years of rigorous routine, you may savour the idea of long empty days stretching ahead of you, but eventually most people tire of having little to do. There’s no need to fill every minute of every day but building some structure into your week can help to keep you occupied.

Take time to consider how you enjoy spending your free time. Are there pursuits you always wanted to try but never got around to, or hobbies you’d like to dedicate more of your time to?

Write a retirement bucket list of all the things you want to do, places you’d like to go, hobbies you’d like to pursue, and projects you’d like to achieve.

If you have a partner, work on this together. Pursuing your own passions separately is good but avoid going too far in developing different ideas for how you want to spend your future, as this could cause problems later.

3. What will keep me occupied, interested, and motivated?

Our identities are often directly linked to our profession. When this is the case, in retirement some people feel a sense of loss.

Creating a new purpose for this next stage of life can help you avoid this becoming a difficult psychological adjustment.

Think about your passions. What gets you excited and motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

Understanding what energises you can help you find a clear sense of purpose and allow you to plan your days around your passions and the activities you most enjoy.

4. How will I structure my time?

Routine can help give structure to your days and weeks. Throughout your working life, most people will have been accustomed to a steady routine. The loss of this formalised structure can be challenging.

Form a routine that gets you out of bed and out of the house.

Consider creating a routine that supports your physical and emotional wellbeing. For example, perhaps begin each day with some exercise. It needn’t be too ambitious; an early morning swim, a walk, or even some gentle yoga stretches will invigorate mind and body for the day ahead.

5. Who will I spend time with?

As you create your routine, make sure to build social interactions into your everyday activities.

The loss of regular social contact is an aspect of retiring that many people find difficult to adjust to. For most of us, the feeling of loneliness passes but, for some, it can be harmful to our wellbeing and quality of life.

Loneliness among older people is a growing problem. In fact, if society fails to tackle loneliness, Age UK predict that by 2026 there will be 2 million people over 50 in England who will often feel lonely.

To avoid loneliness creeping up on you, build regular social activities into your week. Join a club, take up a new hobby, or meet up with a local friend for a regular walk, lunch, or a coffee.

If you’re looking for more inspiration or want to learn something new, u3a run group activities for retirees across the UK. From running to painting, foreign languages to quizzes and podcasts, there’s bound to be something to inspire you.

As you approach retirement, you’ll want to feel confident you have everything in place to live comfortably. If you’d like to chat about how we can help you prepare for this significant life transition, please get in touch. Email or call 01937 223055.