5 things you need to know about transitioning to retirement

Thoughtful mature businessman with smartphone in the office, sitting with legs on desk.

Image: HalfPoint/Bigstock.com

Life is about beginnings and endings. About endings and beginnings. And about transitions between them.

A typical life goes something like this:

We are born. The baby us becomes a toddler and then a child. The child becomes a student at preschool, primary school, a teenager at high school and then an adult, perhaps at university or a trade school. Every stage means a transition.

Work life calls. For most, marriage and children come and add to the complexity of life. The work life continues (with, often, more transitions) as the children repeat the process of their parents. More transitions.

Retirement then beckons—a new beginning. One more transition bringing change and adjustment. Here’s what you need to know about transitioning to retirement.

1. You have already lived through several transitions

And you can add to the list above other major changes in your life. Moving house is a significant change; moving interstate is more significant; and moving overseas more so.

Nancy K Schlossberg, in Too Young to be Old, makes the point that having lived through several transitions in your life means you’re already somewhat equipped to handle the change to retirement. Yes, it’s different to any other transition you’ve faced before, but you can be certain that you can cope because you’ve done it before.

2. The importance of planning

For almost all of your earlier transitions there was a deliberate plan or process. It’s important to have a plan for your retirement. You are gifting yourself 40 and more hours a week. What will you do with it? What do you want to achieve? How will you do that?

Even if you plan for an extended holiday or home repairs for the first few months, before retiring ask yourself, What then? Then answer that question as you can.

3. Expect the unexpected

Life never goes completely to plan and you can’t prepare for everything. When I retired a couple of years ago, I was writing the final chapters of Retirement Ready? I knew I needed a plan and I think I had one of the most planned retirements ever.

The planning was important and helpful, but I quickly learned I needed flexibility. Then I needed to change some plans as circumstances changed. And I’ve taken up opportunities I never thought I would have.

Expect the unexpected.

4. Transitions are always challenging

You may have forgotten your first day at your first school, perhaps not. It’s more difficult to forget the first day on the job. Was there excitement? Were you fearful? Uncertain? Change is always challenging.

Even if they now remain as special memories in your life, there had to have been some stress as you made these changes. Transitions are not always easy, but they lead you to the next stage, to the new beginning.

5. Change can be embraced

When you graduated from primary school to high school; when you went from being a student and entered the workforce; and if you went from single to married, you most likely embraced these changes.

Most of these transitions were well planned and you adapted to the new role(s). The difference between these and retirement is that you don’t have a teacher or a boss telling you what to do. Retirement puts you in the driver’s seat.

That’s called freedom. Freedom is always a challenge. Embrace it.

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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