This is a question many of us wrestle with. Age used to be the major factor, but now there is no official retirement age in New Zealand, although there are some exceptions. While some stop working around the age of 65 when New Zealand Superannuation and other pension schemes kick in, this isn’t the case for everyone. Nearly one in four people aged 65+ choose to remain in paid employment, and this number is growing. Many enjoy their job; the role may provide a sense of identity, status, meaning, responsibility, challenge and fulfilment. Others enjoy the structure of the working week with a regular schedule and established routines developed over a lifetime. Some people appreciate the social interaction with colleagues and clients, especially if they have little social connection outside of the workplace. Which of these statements resonate with you?
Regardless, most people will want to retire at some point so the earlier you start planning, the better prepared you will be when you do retire. Here are some additional considerations:
- What’s your perspective on retirement? Increased longevity is a global phenomenon. The reality is that many of us will have almost as many years after fulltime work as we spent in full-time work. Retirement may be a welcome change of direction, or simply a change of employer or employment.
- How has your general health and wellness changed over the decades? How do you manage your health now? How might this change in the future? What steps do you need to take to increase/maintain your wellbeing?
- What are the pros and cons re the nature of your job and related aspects – e.g., your profession, identity, recognition, intellectual/physical stimulation, and the potential impact of stepping off the career ladder etc. Examples of things you might like to give up may include the daily commute, rush hour traffic, meetings, unfulfilling work, disrespectful colleagues/clients, and the changing workplace environment.
- What is your financial situation – can you afford to retire? The amount of money you will need in the short and the longer term to sustain the lifestyle you’ve planned. depends on multiple factors. Its strongly recommended you seek financial advice way before you intend to retire.
- Your family circumstances. Do you want the chance to spend more time with your partner and your whanau? How might you do this? What routines might need to change to accommodate shared and individual interests?
- Relationships – Who is important in your life now? Who will be important in your life after paid work when you may no longer see your colleagues on a regular basis? How will you meet and interact more with people who spark joy in your life, and spend less time with those who don’t? Nurturing and enhancing meaningful relationships is key to avoiding loneliness, which is the single biggest factor in declining health in older people.
- How will you spend your time in retirement? You’ll have the freedom to restructure your time and pursue new interests and activities. This is an opportunity to change gears, take on new challenges and channel your energy into things that matter. The possibilities are infinite! Have you got compelling things to do?
This is just a sample of things to consider if retirement is on the horizon for you. While each of us are wired differently, how we age and how we feel about it influences our choices. The key is to plan, and then you can make conscious decisions. After all, retirement is not ending a career – it’s redefining yourself.