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.
We all dream of how our retirement should look and the advertising industry adds ideas to our dream. The dream plan around retirement mostly involves thinking about financial plans whether it be accumulating superannuation, property investment, buying gold, cash stored in a safety deposit box or building a healthy income producing share portfolio. Some people aim to rely solely on the Government Age Pension. Frequently we find people have not considered planning for the non-financial aspects of retirement which will be just as important as having a financial plan. Even the financial planners say they do not know if the retirement plan you choose is right or wrong for you but it is better than having no plan. It is the same for the non-financial elements of planning for YOUR dream retirement.
Briefly let’s look at the world that we live in now and then we will explore how that has created changes in the notion of retirement.
Today we live in a V.U.C.A. world, that is a world which is Volatile, Unpredictable, Complex and Ambiguous. This is especially so since the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York, the 2008/9 GFC and the spread of the Covid 19 virus. Our world has experienced massive changes both economically and socially.
Add to that the personal disruptions and disappointments we experience in life. Once secure relationships might be feeling a little shaky, we are battling digital disruption in our families, workloads have increased without appropriate monetary rewards or a satisfying sense of achievement. Even after years of loyalty to an employer you may be required to reapply for our own jobs, or your promotion has resulted being further removed from your first strength i.e. best practice of our professional skills. Sometimes promotion means we merely become an administrator.
The concept of retirement has changed. At one stage in our history the Government or the company we worked for dictated our retirement age. It was common practice for someone else to tell us when it was time to retire. The old concept of retirement was, we work in the same job for 40 years and drive off in a sporty red car to the sunset of our lives. There has even been an advertisement shown by a wealth creation company demonstrating how that concept of retirement has been consigned to the museum.
Today retirement is more about personal choice. YOU have the opportunity to decide when you WILL retire, HOW you will retire and WHAT you will do in your retirement.
Research at tertiary institutions now gives us some factual information to work with rather than retirement being a longed-for release from the pressures of being in the workforce. Research addresses the issues of adjustment to retirement. Not what are we retiring from, rather what are we retiring to?
The School of Psychology at UNSW began research into existing perceptions around retirement. They gathered data from existing Australian sources; the Household Multipurpose Survey, SEARS data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Intergenerational Report published in 2015. The aim of this research was to assist financial planners in their work with their clients to plan for and adjust to retirement.
The researchers were able to inform financial planners:
- WHAT PEOPLE THINK THEY’LL DO IN REGARD TO RETIREMENT
- 13% of workers suggest they never plan to retire. You all know of the 70, 80 year still working in some capacity. I think of the 90-year-old ophthalmologist still practicing two days a week in the city. These people have been dubbed ‘nevertirees.’
- 41% of 2.6 million Australians aged 45 years and over, working full time plan to work part time before retiring permanently.
- Around 50% of people plan to live off superannuation and 26% off the pension or an allowance.
B. ) WHAT PEOPLE ACTUALLY DO
- The average age for recent retirees in Australia is 62.9 years. Ill health dominated as a predictor of an early exit from the workforce.
- 72% have full time jobs then leave abruptly. Only 28% work part time before leaving the workforce permanently.
- Actual main source of income for retirees. Only 17% report superannuation, around 60 % suggest pension or an allowance demonstrating not many of us will be fully funded by superannuation as we anticipated. The Australian Government is very aware of the age pension burden being loaded onto the next generation of tax payers and is gradually increasing the age where Australians are able to access the Age pension.
This information demonstrates the dreaming and the reality can be quite different. Further research has linked personality types to the likelihood of planning for retirement and successfully adjusting to retirement. A successful retirement comprises having 6 resources. They are: Finance, Health, Social, Cognitive and Motivation resources. I’ll share more about these topics in episode 2 of this special 3 – part podcast series Desire to Retire BUT something is holding you back.
You may be at that point in your career where you are thinking you would love to walk away from work but don’t know if you have enough money to retire. When it comes to talking about money You feel shy, inhibited or know you lack financial literacy. You don’t want to feel ignorant or are afraid of what the reality might be for you. I know I did. Let me share a little of my story with you.
I was nearing my fiftieth birthday when suddenly I found myself on my own, being totally responsible for just me. Our two children were young adults and were making their own way in the world. At the time I was working full time as a classroom teacher but had that niggling feeling there is more to life than teaching but didn’t know what it was or how to go about making a transformational change for myself. I tried a couple of manoeuvres within teaching. I transferred to a new school; I dropped from working full time to .8-time fraction. Feeling totally overwhelmed and stuck in the classroom I realised I was burnt out after only 12 years of Primary school teaching.
I still needed to earn an income so worked jobs with less responsibility but it wasn’t sufficient to pay the household bills. I returned to teaching as a relief teacher and after working out what I really wanted to do enrolled in a Post Graduate Certificate course in Counselling. Graduating from this course I felt qualified to ‘help other people’ which I believe is my true purpose in life.
In 2004 I was appointed as the inaugural Primary Welfare Officer at a small State School in the City of Dandenong, working three days a week. I was assisting unsettled kids, working with parents and individual staff members who were feeling the pressures of life. My work was never dull and boring but after nine years I had run out of challenges in this workplace. For me it was time to leave the most satisfying job I had ever had. I left the paid workforce in December 2013. I had found Counselling a useful tool but had explored Life Coaching and found it to a more forward-looking resource to assist people looking for change in their lives. By December 2014 I had completed a Diploma in Life Coaching.
In transforming from a classroom teacher to a Retirement Life Coach many people helped me along the way enabling me to overcome obstacles and learn a lot about inner strength. Life’s’ disappointments and shattering of dreams will be overcome resulting in a different dream with as many fine qualities as your original dream.
Let me ask you, how are you feeling about life at the moment? Feeling stuck, undervalued, frustrated, bored or tired? The pressure you find yourself under can be cumulative. In the workplace or in family life there are daily pressures of meeting deadlines, performing at your best, adjusting to never ceasing change. Mini crises occur, you deal with them competently, move on with every day professional life. A major crisis arises, you deal with it competently but find you don’t bounce back as easily as before. What do you do? All those years of working professionally and caring for family may have caught up with you. It may be time for some self-care. You see yourself as the professional who helps other people by solving their problems and attending to their needs. Hang on you say. I am the professional who nurtures other people. It may not look professional if I need care. I might end up with a black mark against my name.
Ignoring self-care is of no benefit to yourself, your family or your work colleagues. In my profession, teaching, my employer did provide an employee assistance program. I swallowed my pride and attended one confidential counselling session. It wasn’t for me. I found transformation and inspiration from other sources.
When you think about retirement what is the first thing that comes to mind? Usually it is money and many people consider only their financial security in retirement. The reason I want to share this story of one of my clients, Lawyer Y is to demonstrate the value of planning for non-financial aspects of retirement. It is not always about the money.
Lawyer Y retired at the age of 65 years after a lifetime of working for the same company. Financially he and his wife were comfortable. He saw retirement as being able to play golf three times a week, enjoy some relaxation and make a refreshing change for himself and his wife. His wife had retired five years earlier and had established interests outside the home and enjoyed being in charge of the household. Retiring in November, by February of the next year Lawyer Y had found himself dissatisfied with golf three times a week as it didn’t fill the 50 hours a week he had spent at work and the relationship with his wife was becoming strained. He was worried they were heading for divorce. In March of that year we set up an agreement to work together on his issues. Lawyer Y reported his wife found it annoying having him around the house and she was against his idea of making a new start elsewhere. They had a married son living interstate with one child and a second child expected soon. Lawyer Y wanted to sell up and move interstate to be near their son and grandchildren. The conflict arose around another son who had predeceased Lawyer Y and his wife and was buried in a nearby cemetery. His wife wanted to stay close to the deceased son and have her siblings close by for support. After working with me for a short time Lawyer Y devised some strategies to communicate his thoughts and feelings to his wife more clearly. Soon the house was on the market and they were moving interstate. The deal Lawyer Y and his wife arrived at together had two conditions, the new house was to be no more than a twenty-minutes’ drive from their grandchildren and they were to return to home city three to four times a year to visit family and friends.
So if you can relate to Lawyer Y’s situation of being anxious about his relationship with his wife, feeling impatient to get on with a new place to live just know it IS possible for you to feel more certain about your retirement too with the right support and the right strategy. You can go from WOE to WOW.
In future episodes of Reinvent YOUR Retirement we will explore further the perceptions around retirement and overcoming the obstacles you perceive to be in your way at the moment.
In the meantime, hop onto my website https://retirementlife.coach and check out your readiness for retirement. Have a go at the Retirement Wheel of Life to see if there are areas of your life you feel are not functioning as well as you would want or desire.