You’ll find your best retirement help in the mirror

Mature man looking in mirror at home

Image: New Africa /

There’s definitely a place for professional help as you plan your retirement. For instance, you’ll probably need some professional advice about your finances.

But, as you consider your retirement, you’ll find your best help in the mirror. You.

And the reason for saying this is simple: You know you.

Here are five ways that you help you plan your retirement.

1. You know what your interests are

You know if you should learn origami for a retirement hobby or if you should buy that new set of golf clubs.

Even if you’re not into origami, that doesn’t stop you from experimenting with it to see if it could be an interest. Some things will have no appeal. They’re easy to cross off your list.

On the other hand, if you’ve had the desire to write that great novel, you can even start your research to be ahead when you retire.

2. You know what your passions are

What do you feel strongly about? Is it your family? A cause? Even if you aren’t sure of your passions—and, to be honest, not everyone is—you will know what your passions aren’t. That’s a good start for working out what they are.

But if you have a passion, you’ll be able to identify it and plan to work on it. It’s worth looking back in time to what you have done in the past. For instance, someone whose passion in retirement is art may have liked to draw as a child.

3. You know what you want to achieve

Is it that great novel? To bring your golf score down? Climb South America’s 10 mountains over 6,000 metres?

Of course, it could be to work on a PhD. You wouldn’t be the first retiree to do that.

Too often we limit ourselves to the short-term future when we think of retirement, partly, I think, because we’re aware of our age and know we may only have a short-term future.

But why can’t we ask ourselves what we would like to achieve in the next five years? Retired or not. That could expand our horizons.

4. You know your bucket list

The things-I-want-to-do-before-I-kick-the-bucket list is a fun list. What is it for you? Walking along the Great Wall of China? Swimming with dolphins? Cruising down the Rhine?

You’re the one who creates your bucket list. That can lead to exciting experiences.

5. You know your limitations

I suspect that if you’re thinking about retirement you won’t be planning an exercise regime to attempt to make the Olympics track and field team. You may not know this, but that’s for people 20 and 30 years younger. To illustrate, the gold-medal winning Jamaican runner Usain Bolt retired at the age of 30 in 2017.

You know better than anyone what your limitations are. You may not want to recognise some of them, but the reality is that there are some things that you can’t do. The healthy thing to do is accept it and target what you can do.

One more thing

Not everyone finds it easy to make decisions for retirement. I know several people who continue to work way past retirement age because they have no idea what they would do if they stopped. (One of them has recently retired and her life is going really well—better than she expected.)

That’s why it’s worth trying things before retirement. It’s also worth experimenting in retirement because this can be a time of trying new things, tasting new things and visiting new places.

Of course, there’s always television. But no. It’s unfortunate that this can become the default retirement non-activity (see David’s experience here).

Hyrum W Smith may have the antidote to television watching. In Purposeful Retirement he suggests that all new retirees should spend the first four days of their retirement watching television for 18 hours a day. ‘It will  make them so miserable they’ll get up and get moving.’

And another thing

Please don’t read this as saying you don’t need help with your retirement planning. You do need to research. You do need to consult (particularly if you have a partner). You do need to ask questions. And you could miss out if you don’t check with professionals in some areas.

At the same time, don’t underestimate what you bring to your retirement plan. You’re an essential resource as the expert in one significant area—you.

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

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Category: Planning

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