5 things to do if you’re forced into an early retirement

Stressed Asian senior couple calculate their monthly expenses with laptop computer

Image: Aekkarak/ Bigstock.com

Almost a quarter of Australians are forced to retire (28% of males; 20% of females). There are three main reasons: loss of work, and not being able to find another job; personal health issues; or becoming a personal carer—usually for a family member.

So, if this is you, what can you do? Here are 5 strategies that will help you take charge of your situation.

1. Know the realities of your finances

A forced retirement may mean you aren’t prepared financially for your retirement. You need to know the realities of your finances and of your financial needs for retirement.

Kailey Fralick puts it this way with forced retirement: ‘You need to re-evaluate your existing retirement plan. Think about how long your savings now have to last and recalculate how much you need to cover living expenses.’

This is important. You may need help to work this out—a financial planner, perhaps. And don’t forget to investigate whatever government support there may be for people in your situation.

2. How is it impacting others who are affected?

There’s always a shock element with a forced retirement—even when it’s expected. Perhaps your health has forced this outcome. You may have recognised it’s a possibility, but going from possible to reality is a huge difference.

This is not a time to be the strong silent type—particularly if you’re part of a couple. It will impact your partner. Talk to them. Ask questions: How is it affecting them? What are their fears? Does it mean a loss of their dreams? How can you work it through, together?

Family and friends, these are important people in your life. They will remain important people in your life unless you lock them out.

3. Find out what help is available

This can be a whole range of things. Finances are mentioned above. But if you need medical help or have stopped to care for someone, you need to know what help is available in those cases.

For instance, if mobility is a problem, are mobility aids available? If medication, is it affordable or subsidised? If long-term care is there help to allow carers a break. And so on.

Are there groups that can help you transition from work to retirement? This may not be a formal transition-to-retirement group, but could be a hobby group, a gardening group, a reading group. In other words, people who have a similar interest to you.

There’s a rule of life that says people need people in their lives. And being involved with others helps with any transition.

4. Work out what you will do

This may be difficult, particularly if yours is a health problem. But even then you need to ask yourself what will you do. You need to do more than nothing—keeping in mind that television is not doing something.

What are your interests? How can you work on them?

My friend, Paul, was advised by his doctor to retire or his health would suffer. So he retired. He’s always had an interest in model trains. In retirement, he’s now a volunteer station master at Melbourne’s iconic Puffing Billy. In his words, ‘I’m now playing with real trains.’

5. Be grateful for what you do have

MorganQuist coaching makes the point that when job loss happens it’s important to be grateful for what you do have.

‘It can be easy to focus on lack after a job loss—such as “I can’t do this” or “I can’t buy that” now that I’ve lost my job. To keep a positive mindset, inventory the great things in your life.’ That can be your loved ones. The roof over your head. And so on. Create your own list.

Unless you can change your situation, it is what it is. This is a time to rebuild who you are, to recreate yourself despite whatever limitations have now been placed upon you.

This is about saying, OK, I can’t change this, but this isn’t the end of the world and certainly it isn’t the end of my world.

You can take charge and create your best life within the limits of your circumstances. With thought and a touch of courage, we humans are good at that.

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

Category: Attitude, Couples, Finances, Retirement

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