The Future = TBD!

This was how one person described their impending retirement on LinkedIn, having successfully sold a thriving business. Exciting as it is to have drawn a line in the sand, this ambiguity level surely leaves many unknowns out in the ether.

We spend on average 1,000 weeks or 7,300 days or 175,200 hours in retirement – ¼ of our lives!

That is a long time to be left to chance! So many of us grapple with retirement – the very concept and then living through it.

We dedicate a disproportionate amount of our life’s working; often spending more time with work colleagues than loved ones. When we approach and step over the retirement threshold, we materialise into an Alice in Wonderland of confusion and incomprehensible emotions.

In the book, I talk matter-of-factly about retirement; taking it means that all you need to do is visualise the perfect retirement and calculate the money to support it. I wasn’t being flippant but rather constrained by word count and page numbers. I will use this first ‘retirement’ blog to introduce the topic.

For the record, I am 60 years old and am not retired. I am not sure I will retire in the often-accepted definition. There are many reasons for this, but if I had to capture my reasons, I would say purpose, passion, and drive. As it stands, I am not convinced I will find these three values away from what I have done for almost 35 years. Having spoken to friends and clients, I am not alone. However, as the years roll by, surely, at some point, my relevance will wain, and I should create a new life. Writing these retirement blogs could be the start of a personal self-help therapy journey.

My mind races with so many different aspects when I think about retirement. What does planning for retirement entail? What phases do we go through, and are they standard for everyone? What physiological hurdles will we encounter?

From countless conversations with clients, I know that most of us are not sufficiently prepared to make the most of this stage in our lives, certainly at the start. We do invariably get to the point of acceptance and even enjoyment, but I sense that we could all get there much quicker with a considered plan and critical appraisal of what lies ahead.

Often, an exhausted person throws themselves across the finish line of work, viewing their retirement as an extended holiday. However, the shine soon wears off, and we begin to question what is the worth of me?

When done right, I have seen retirement as a renaissance—a rebirth. Out with the old, in with the new. It doesn’t need to be dramatic, but it is going to be different, and ‘different’ is good—even great.

There is no set way to retire. We are all different and want different things, so any approach to how we retire needs to be bespoke and considered through our own eyes. Some want to play golf twice a day, others crave to travel to far-flung destinations, while some are perfectly content with staycations and busying themselves in their garden, local community, or charity work. All are spot on; we just need to know what that looks and feels like ahead of the retirement event. Prepared is forearmed.

Let’s consider the stages we transition through.

Stage 1: Pre-retirement—anticipation. Beginning several years out while still working, retirement is on your mind, if not visibly on the horizon. It’s a time of preparation when you lay the groundwork for your future lifestyle.

Pre-retirement is subdivided into distinct time bands:

Stage 2: Retirement – renaissance. This stage is characterised by newfound freedom and exploration. As you transition away from the workforce, you have more time to pursue your passions and interests. This can be further subdivided into distinct time bands:

Stage 3: Contemplation – slow-down (+16 years). Aging comes with the unspoken sense of fewer years in front of us than behind us, which has a label: existential awareness. This is inescapable and has three sub-considerations:

For most parents and grandparents, any financial assistance is done with good intentions and should have a positive impact for good upon those receiving it.

However, this financial ‘leg up’ can have a significant bearing and unintended consequences upon those receiving unearned money. The process of stewarding cross-generational wealth comes with many decisions and possibly issues too. How to give? When to give? Who to give to? How much to give? We must be careful not to create a generation of entitlement or hamper the rising generation’s drive and sense of purpose.

Other legacies include philanthropy, making contributions to charitable organisations, personal endowments, or family foundations. Many retirees consider how they can support causes they are passionate about, ensuring their values continue to make a positive impact.

Professional legacy: For those who have had significant careers, this can involve mentoring younger professionals, publishing works, or contributing to their field in a way that endures beyond their active participation.

Cultural and educational legacy: This might include preserving family traditions, recording personal histories, or providing educational opportunities for future generations through scholarships or educational programs.

Stage 4: Care. This stage marks our exit years and is probably the hardest for us and our children to deal with. How we deal and cope with it is often not in our control. We all enjoy our autonomy and freedom to be an ‘adult’; after all, we have spent decades looking after ourselves, our families, and others. Now, the tables are turned, and the roles are reversed; we are no longer the carers but the cared for—no longer the parent but the child. In harsh medical terminology, we are now ‘circling the drain.’

This has been a canter through retirement, not stopping for breath on approaching and dealing with each stage. It has also been written with a myopic focus, providing no consideration for couples headed to retirement. I will pick these up in future missives. That said, I hope it has raised some thoughts and encourages you not to leave your retirement to chance.

I think I’ll join you upon this journey of renaissance.

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Risk warnings
This article is distributed for educational purposes and should not be considered investment advice or an offer of any security for sale.

This article contains the opinions of the author but not necessarily the Firm and does not represent a recommendation of any particular security, strategy, or investment product. Information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable but is not guaranteed.

Past performance is not indicative of future results and no representation is made that the stated results will be replicated.