I love to see my clients go from WOE to WOW. I work with nurturing professionals, mostly teachers and social workers, 55 years and older, assisting them to implement the non-financial transition to retirement strategies. Working together enables my clients to plan a meaningful retirement with clarity.
In the previous two episodes of Desire to Retire we have examined how the concept of retirement has changed, the stages of retirement and the resources required to successfully adjust to retirement.
Today we are going to delve a little deeper into what you might need to successfully adjust to a meaningful retirement with clarity. It forms the basis of the Desire to Retire program shifting clients from dreading the thought of retirement to being very excited about having a plan for the non-financial aspects of retirement.
No matter which school of psychology you adhere to it is commonly accepted human beings all have biological and physiological needs to be met for survival. They are air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sex, sleep etc. After these are satisfied the human being moves next to a need for safety i.e. Protection from elements, security, order, law, stability and freedom from fear. The psychologist Abraham Maslow working last century came up with a hierarchy of needs having seven levels moving from biological needs through to Self-Actualisation. Closer to the end of his work he added an eighth stage, Transcendence. i.e. A person motivated by values which transcend beyond personal self. Mystical experiences, sexual experiences, service to others, religious faith, experiences with nature.
Also working last century another psychologist, Carl Rogers, agreed with Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs that humans are motived to self-actualise but added that for a person to grow beyond Maslow’s Deficiency needs i.e. basic needs, an environment that provides them with genuineness (openness and self-disclosure), acceptance (being seen with unconditional positive regard), and empathy ( being listened to and understood) is required. Without these three conditions relationships and healthy personalities will not develop as they should much like a tree will not grow without sunshine and water. Carl Rogers saw fully functioning people as well adjusted, well balanced and interesting to know. Rogers believed often such people are high achievers in society. In your profession often you are the one offering Carl Roger’s three conditions for healthy growth. Whether you work with children, adults or teenagers nurturing professionals are called upon to provide the genuineness, acceptance and empathy. In the recent Covid 19 pandemic who were the heroes? Definitely the health workers doctors, nurses, cleaners, supermarket employees, social workers and the teachers. You were the ones working under pressure to provide genuineness, acceptance and empathy.
If we look at the resources needed for a successful adjustment to retirement, Finance, Health, Social, Emotion, Conative and Motivation, they are all embedded in Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. We need money in retirement to purchase the basics of life, food, drink, shelter, and warmth to maintain good health, both physical and mental. We feel a worthwhile human being if we are able to meet the basic needs and experience personal growth towards Self-Actualisation and Transcendence. How we feel about our needs being met drives our sense of security and identity. When you think of retirement are you anxious about how secure you will be financially, will you be independent or rely on others for a retirement income. What will happen to you if you have to fend for yourself? If you live alone who will be there to look after you when you are unwell? What will happen to you when you become dependent on others? How will your relationships within the family work out? Emotions determine how you perceive yourself and how others perceive you on your journey to Self-Actualisation or Transcendence.
Let’s look at security. Ask yourself at this stage of life what/who is it that gives you a sense of security? Let’s take an example, for instance, security around housing. Where will you live in retirement? Will you join those that have made a sea change or a tree change to enjoy a different pace of life with less traffic congestion, less busyness on a daily basis? It has become apparent over the last three decades how home ownership in Australia has changed. The Per Capita Think Tank reported in February 2020 the family home is still considered one of the three pillars of the Retirement Income system. It is a financial asset but more and more ageing Australians, no longer have the security of home ownership. The proportion of Australians aged 55 years to 64 years still owing money on their mortgage has tripled from 14% in 1990 to 47 % in 2015. Also, an increasing number of older Australians are renting in the private sector. Currently, where I live, there is a housing shortage pushing up the price of housing. If you are in the rental market or wanting to purchase a home this is something you may feel is beyond your control creating a little more anxiety in your life.
The Per Capita researchers discovered the home is more than a financial asset. They reported The Australian Centre for Social Innovation has established that “‘home’ is much more than a roof over our heads. It is the place that gives people stability and control over their lives. A good home can provide us with a sense of belonging to a community which values, needs, and supports us; a place of sanctuary where it feels safe to express ourselves. Successful ageing is dependent on a person’s access to a home that provides security, community, safety and autonomy.” Where will you live in retirement?
Now let’s look at our identity. This changes from when we are engaged in the workforce to who we are when we are fully retired. Men and women have a strong sense of identity linked to their position in the workplace. Who are you when you meet someone for the first time and you are asked, “What do you do?” meaning what is your job status? Are you a CEO, a nurse or a Personal Assistant? Your job status gives you a sense of belonging to a particular cohort within your community. When that is gone who are you within your community? Transitioning into retirement is all about finding a new purpose in your life. You used to get out of bed each morning with the purpose of working productively for the day. Now what will be the reason for getting out of bed every day? Even though retirement is the time in your life to take things easy for it to be a meaningful existence there has to be a purpose for your life especially when we remember there is possibly 20 – 30 plus years ahead to live. Let’s live it vibrantly and with vitality.
The reason I want to share this story with you is the value of talking about those niggling things on your mind but you are never quite brave enough to bring up with the important people in your life. There is never anything so bad it can’t be talked about. I am reminded of Mr and Mrs P. I call them Mr and Mrs P because they lived in Perth. Mr and Mrs P had been married for a long time and had brought up three sons who had left home and established their own families, one of whom lived close by. Mr and Mrs P had lived and worked in country Western Australia for most of their working life. As they approached retirement age their health was deteriorating so to be close to medical assistance they decided to move to Perth for their retirement. Of course, their married son and his family already living in Perth were delighted. This was a big step financially and socially for Mr and Mrs P, leaving behind strong connections within the small country community where they had raised their family and worked.
After living in the ‘big smoke’ for a year Mrs P found herself socially isolated and felt as if there was no space to breathe. They had bought their retirement home on the metropolitan fringe and what they thought was going to be natural bushland around their street was bulldozed over for a new housing development. Mrs and Mr P also had a struggle with the relationship between themselves and their daughter in law. Their son’s work took him overseas on a regular basis and for a month at a time. The daughter in law found it challenging to parent her two little girls so Mr and Mrs P as loving grandparents offered to help out with caring for their granddaughters. It began as just one-half day here and there but when the daughter in law wanted to return to work it became much more. It evolved into the girls being dumped at grandma and grandpas whenever it suited the daughter in law. Mr and Mrs P felt helpless, they didn’t want to appear to be the grumpy grandparents and feared the connection between the two families might go belly up if they challenged their daughter in law on her taking advantage of their kindness. They felt like a mere convenience. Mr and Mrs P also felt they would be interfering in their son’s relationship with his partner and they didn’t want to see that relationship go belly up either. What were they to do? They were looking at the prospect of feeling trapped in this situation for years to come.
I chatted with Mr and Mrs P about their predicament and they made it very clear they did not wish to speak with their son and daughter in law to put in some boundaries around child minding. Because of the feeling of being closed in their second option was to move back to the country. Mrs P was feeling very guilty about this as moving to the city had cost them a lot of money, prices of housing in Perth was going down so if they sold on the current market, they would lose a substantial amount of money. The conversation moved from financial costs to the cost of Mr and Mrs P ‘s health both physical and mental.
It was a case of finding a suitable house at a price they could afford in a location not too far from Perth. They decided quality of life was more important to them than $$$’s in the bank so they set off on their search for a new home in a country town. Where they ideally wanted to live, a town less than a two-hour drive from Perth was out of their price range. By hunting high and low Mrs P spotted a small ad in a country newspaper for a substantial home in a town 30 minutes from their ideal location. The house was affordable. They took the leap of faith and now live in the best house they have ever owned in their town just over two hours from the medicos in Perth. Mrs P volunteers helping disadvantaged kids at the local Primary School and Mr P attends the Men’s Shed, plants tree seedlings at the local nursery and has joined the bowls club even though he is a hopeless bowler. Wow to them for assessing what is really important to them and overcoming the challenges they faced.
Is it possible for you to see money merely as a tool to provide for your basic needs? What are the other needs you hold in the dream you have for your retirement? It is possible to work this through and gain some clarity for a plan around the non-financial resources for your retirement. Investigate The Desire to Retire plan at https://retirementlife.coach Try the Are You Ready for Retirement quiz or the Wheel of Life activities to see where you stand in relation to planning a meaningful retirement with clarity.