5 questions to ask to help you prepare for retirement

Senior man in a business suit sitting behind a desk holding a cupcake with Happy Retirement banner and box holding personal effects.

Image: karenfoleyphotography/Bigstock.com

When you retire you have much more control over what you’re going to do. What’s it going to look like for you? Have you thought it through yet?

Here are five starter questions that can help you with your planning.

1. Do you know what you’re retiring to?

Here’s the scene: Your workplace has held your retirement party. The boss found nice things to say about you. Your workmates wished you well. Some were sorry you were leaving.

You emptied your desk or locker and you walked out the door. You’re retired.

What now?

What’s happening in the next three months? Six months? Six years? Thirty years?

It’s easy to know what you’re retiring from, but what are you retiring to? What will you be doing with the rest of your life? What do you want to achieve with—to put it bluntly—the last part of your life?

These are important questions as you think about your retirement to know what you’re retiring to. You may also like to check out these ‘voices of experience’.

2. Is your retirement plan more than a bucket list?

There’s nothing wrong with having a bucket list. Please go swimming with dolphins; do that trip to China or London; go parachuting, even, if that’s on your list. Do the bucket list thing, but remember that they tend to be events or experiences, not a plan.

What would a normal week look like in your retirement? This is an important question because while retirement can have more holiday times, it isn’t a holiday, it’s your regular life once you’ve quit your job. Even grey nomads on the road for months at a time settle into a routine that’s their everyday life.

This is a time when you can follow your passions; develop your interests and follow your life priorities. It’s a time to do things that give your life meaning. A bucket list can help do that, but it’s so much more.

3. Will retirement be gradual or all at once?

Will your retirement come with an end-of-work date—June 30 or December 31, for instance? Or do you want to negotiate with your employer to cut back over time until you decide to finally stop?

Some take on another part-time job if they’re unable to negotiate something with their employer. It’s about gradually retiring.

There are advantages to gradually retiring:

  • You still have a regular income
  • It does help you ease into retirement
  • You have the time to try some things you may want to do in retirement

4. Do you need to talk about your retirement?

To your boss, yes. That’s a given.

And, if you’re part of a couple the answer is also yes. You need to be talking to each other. Don’t assume that they will know what you’re thinking any more than you will know what they’re thinking if you don’t talk to each other.

Are you planning to retire together? That’s a good question to talk through. Statistics say that most couples don’t.

And if there are changes to the plan they need to be discussed before decisions are made. Not like the couple who had planned their joint retirement date, but when the husband was asked to work on for another two years on an ‘exciting project’ he said, ‘Yes.’

Without consultation!

He may be excited, but she sees her plans crumbling. Couples need to talk and make decisions together.

5. Is your plan your plan?

You are you, nobody else. Don’t try to live someone else’s retirement. You aren’t them. Of course, you can learn from others and their approach to retirement, but this is your life and your retirement, not theirs.

And don’t be fooled by your retired friends’ Facebook photos and stories. Facebook doesn’t present reality. Most of us tend to show our best on Facebook. You may want to read this post about ‘retirement envy’.

In her book Quiet, Susan Cain says, ‘The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamp-lit desk.’

What’s your lighting for your retirement? Make sure your plan is your plan.

I suspect you will have had more questions come to mind as you read this through. That’s good. There are a lot of questions to be answered as you go through this major life transition.

Bruce Manners is the author of Retirement Ready? and Refusing to Retire, and founder of RetireNotes.com

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Category: Planning

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