It’s important to make your retirement story your story

Rear view of happy senior couple sitting on edge of pier by lake

Image: Nosnibor137/

We can create our own story in retirement. It’s good to learn from others and their experience. It’s worth reading up on options. And it’s worth checking and understanding trends.

But we need to live out our own story.

We all have our story

I was reminded of this a few days ago when I revisited my hometown, Port Wakefield, in South Australia. It’s a small town (population 800) about an hour’s drive north of Adelaide, the state’s capital.

It lies on the major highway from Adelaide heading to both the north and the west across Australia. It’s main businesses care for traffic going through the town and serving the farming community around it.

Back in the day, it had its own small hospital. That’s where I was born. I’ve often wondered if my birth was a factor in it closing down soon after I was born.

None of us have control over our beginnings. Nor over things like where we lived and went to school at that time. But these are all part of our story.

One of the first real decisions I made was to leave school at the age of 15 and, for five years, to work with my father as a commercial fisherman. I was taking charge of my story.

In a sense, though, I was merely following the family tradition. I was a fifth-generation fisherman. At the age of 20, I decided on a new career and calling.

That’s when my life really did become my story.

Our retirement story is important

We have little control over our early story. As we get older we gradually build our own. We’re in control—to some extent, at least.

Our work tends to own us for a significant part of each week. With marriage and children, our family becomes part of our story. And our debts, the mortgage, becomes a responsibility.

With retirement we can, hopefully, recreate ourselves, to take control of our story and live a satisfying retirement. Here are three ways that could help you make your retirement, your retirement:

1. Plan your retirement

Plan it so it is yours.

2. Stretch yourself

Don’t be satisfied with so-so. Experiment. Try different things. Some things you may only do once, but others you’ll want to repeat. Some things will become part of your life. Retirement allows you to do this.

3. Be open to your opportunities

When you retire you will have more time to be flexible with your life. That means that when opportunities arise you can take advantage of them. That adds to life. To your life.

Yes, we can learn from others and their experience. It’s worth researching options. It’s good to understand trends and to be involved with others in our retirement years.

But, just as no one else has lived your early story, you need to live out your own retirement story. After all, it’s your retirement—no one else’s.

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

Category: Lifestyle

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