You are who you are: plan your retirement your way

Outdoor shot of senior man canoeing in the lake with woman in background on a summer day. Man and woman in two different kayaks in the lake on a sunny day.

Image: Ammentorp/

You are who you are, which means that when it comes to retirement you shouldn’t try to live someone else’s retirement. You need to remember who you are.

Whatever the current retiree rage is: cruising down the Rhine; swimming with dolphins in the Florida keys; or taking the Ghan train from Adelaide to Darwin; if you don’t really have an interest, why would you want to plan it for your retirement?

This is your retirement, not anyone else’s. Naturally, if you’re part of a couple, there needs to be give and take.

Learn from the lessons you’ve learned

If you’re getting close to retirement you’ve already had quite a bit of life experience. You already know a lot about who you are. Yes, there’s more to discover, more to experience, more to experiment with, but the basics are there.

Along the way, you would have discovered what you love to do. What plans do you have for doing it, or them in retirement?

I love to write. I was 22 years old before I decided to see if I was good enough to be published. That first article was published! I was hooked. Several hundred articles and a few books later (including Retirement Ready? and Refusing to Retire), and a 15-year stint as a magazine editor and I still have the writing bug.

That’s why, in retirement, putting these posts together each week is not a chore (most weeks!). I enjoy discovering new things about preparing for retirement and writing about them.

That’s my story. What’s yours? What do you love doing? How will you incorporate it into your retirement? Now’s the time to begin thinking about how you can plan your retirement in your way.

When you have the time, you have the opportunity

I’ve written about retirement being a gift of time every week, but that can be expanded. There are 8,760 hours a year (8,784 every leap year). OK, you will sleep about 1/3 of them (2,920 hours). That still leaves you 5,840 hours to be who you are in retirement.

That’s a stack of time to spend your retirement in your way. With your deadlines. Your priorities. Your passions. Your hobbies. Your interests. Your goals. To make it your retirement.

Please don’t read this as saying your retirement should be self-centred and selfish. That’s self-defeating if you’re looking for the best retirement.

Make sure you try new things

Of course, you need to plan to do new things in retirement. This is still a chance to experiment. To achieve new things. To take opportunities that come your way. To get out of your comfort zone.

I was pleasantly surprised by the good reception to Retirement Ready? when it came out. I was somewhat stunned to be asked if I would be willing to talk to the media about it.

This took me way out of my comfort zone. It became a personal challenge to attempt to not make a fool of myself. There were 18 national radio interviews, an independent television interview, and a couple of print interviews.

It went from being something scary to become a chance to tell people what I’d discovered. I became grateful for the opportunity it brought.

Be aware of opportunities as you plan your retirement. And in your retirement.

Being a couple

Let’s get back to that couple give-and-take. If you’re part of a couple, that is also part of who you are—an important part.

This means that some decisions you make will be shared decisions. Your partner may not be as excited about walking the Great Wall of China as you are. How will you work that through?

I can’t answer that for you because I’m not you. Besides, it’s your retirement, not mine.

The point is this: You take who you are into retirement. Plan your retirement with you in mind.

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

Category: Lifestyle, Planning

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