I’ve started work on a new book, which will focus on helping people to plan their retirement. It’s for people 50 plus who are wondering about retirement, actively planning the next stage – or who have left their job and are finding it harder going than they expected.
Before the twentieth century, most people worked until they dropped. Some in the leisured classes never really got the hang of working at all, but for most, working life started early and ended shortly before death. And for an Australian born in 1880, death was likely to happen at around 50. So ‘retirement’ was a meaningless concept for many and unaffordable to boot.
When the Commonwealth introduced the first old-age pension in 1908, for men over 65, less than 4% of the male population reached that threshold. If you retired at all, it was to spend a few years pottering around before decline and death.
Now we are living longer and healthier lives, we may have 30 good years or even more between retirement and the end of life, so the old ideas of retirement that our grandparents followed just don’t fit any more. And even if you could afford it, 30 years of bingo and golf would surely only appeal to a very diehard minority.
There is a real sense of uncertainty, sometimes even dread, about the future amongst many Australians who are 50 and over. They feel cut adrift in a changing world and can’t see their way forward. Many think it is just their own problem and feel somehow responsible for it. This book will offer a map and a helping hand to forge a new path.
Retirement is a social construct and if it is no longer fit for purpose, we can change it.
This new retirement could easily be your best and happiest time, as it is for many of us, but only if you are curious enough to explore some new possibilities. Those with a sense of meaning or purpose are likely to live healthier, happier and longer lives, so there’s a real incentive to think through what you want for your new-style retirement.
We are a generation who demand new and clever solutions to meet our needs, who see the world has changed – and who often feel there is no clear path to follow.
Everyone focuses on the financial aspect of retirement planning and there’s nothing wrong with that. But a bit of time invested into the other aspects of a happy life may make all the difference. Things to consider: post-work identity, ensuring a sense of home/place, community connections, structuring time, new adventures, planning a legacy and even activating those ‘someday projects’ that have been hovering around the edge of your life for years or decades.