Building up interests helps to make retirement work

Man Tuning A Guitar, Shallow Focus On His Hand

Image: Gary Perkin/

‘People who work very hard need to start building up other interests to make their retirement work.’ That’s the advice from Professor Gordian Fulde.

Fulde is the director of Emergency Medicine at Sydney’s St Vincent’s hospital and knows what it’s like to work hard—and long. He’s been in his current role for 30 years.

St Vincent’s has, arguably, the most challenging emergency department of any hospital in Australia. Friday and Saturday nights—party nights in Sydney—are its busiest. Drugs and alcohol cause most of the problems.

Fulde, aged 68, told The Retiree Magazine that he’ll semi-retire in ‘about three years’.

That’s when, he says, ‘I’ll be phasing down . . . I think it’s a mistake if you’ve been a very busy person—and I plead guilty. You may not have spent enough time on your own interests and with your family. I think you’ve got to be proactive with other interests.’

He continues with that line, ‘People who work very hard need to start building up other interests to make their retirement work.’

I hope he’s able to do that. The important thing is this: he has a plan. He wants to slow down—in semi-retirement—before retiring completely. There’s wisdom in that approach, for him.

Without knowing what you’re going to do, retirement gives you time you won’t know what to do with. You need a plan.

Marci Alboher, in The Encore Career Handbook, says that this is a time of life when you ask what you want to do. ‘Not what you can do. Not what you should do. Not what someone else wants or expects you to do.’

Then she adds, ‘If you’re a blank slate you’ll be thinking a lot about the what. If you have some ideas already, you’ll be thinking about the how.’

The challenge some face is to get from the ‘what’ to the point where they’re asking ‘how’. That’s where building up those other interests comes into play. And it isn’t good advice for only the ‘very busy’.

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


Category: Lifestyle, Planning

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