Plan for Retirement - But why?

Dawn breaks over the horizon, and the sounds of nature, muscle their way into your bedroom, dragging you out of sweet slumber into the world of the awake. In my case, it is probably Zoom, one of my dogs breathing into my ear. You wake up energized to face day one of your newly retired life. You have planned travel and catching up with friends, and.....the honeymoon lasts 6-8 months. Boredom sets in as the new way of life doesn't meet your expectations. Soon comes the realization that you can't do this for the next 15 to 20 years, and you have not made any plans for this phase of your life. 

Worry not - you are not alone. Research in Singapore has shown that 4 out of 10 potential retirees are not ready for a retirement life because they don't have a plan apart from a financial one. A school administrator in one of our workshops had only planned his financial future and hadn't thought about anything else. He soon realized that more than a financial plan was needed for the next decade. It is crucial to have a non-financial plan if you want to reap the benefits of retirement. 

Why plan or think about non-financial aspects? Why can't you take it day to day? 

Retirement is one of the most disruptive phases of your life. Planning for it will contribute to your well-being, thereby enabling you to lead a fulfilled and enjoyable life. Ideally, it would be best if you started thinking about it a few years before your retirement day. Some aspects to contemplate

  1. Longevity - If you live in Singapore, the likelihood of living till 85 is relatively high - that's 15-20 years or more of daily life - deciding on what to do every day, month after month, year after year. Assuming you had a plan for the first 15-20 years of your career, why not for the last?
  2. Lifestyle Autonomy - Visualize what your life will look like during retirement. You have a choice of lifestyles within your financial constraints. Where would you live? What would you do? How would you spend your time?
  3. What are you passionate about, and how would you indulge it? You could do all the things you enjoy but couldn't do earlier due to time constraints. If you don't have a passion, go and discover what brings you joy. 
  4. Consider the Emotional impact of retirement- Loss of identity is a well-known fallout from stopping work. Have some ideas about your new identity or personal brand. What will that be? What do you stand for? Who will you be?
  5. Mental well-being - A purpose or an activity that fulfills you can anchor your mental and spiritual self.
  6. Social connectedness and relationships - The transition to retirement can be rocky. This is the time you need your friends and family to support you. Your spouse will also feel the impact of your retirement and lifestyle change.
  7. Learning new tricks - Can you use the time and opportunity to learn new skills? Why? Because you can.

New retirees will go through phases of happiness and unhappiness, boredom and dissatisfaction. Planning for it, having a sense of purpose, caring for your emotional and physical health, and having a community to support you will give you years of joy and fulfillment.


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