The thought of retirement is an enticing one for many of us. Imagine throwing off the shackles of the workforce and being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want. But why wait until you are retired to do the things you love?
Retirement is a time where we finally have the space to do what we want to do with our lives, whether that’s travel, developing and learning new skills, taking up hobbies or just enjoying the company of those we care about.
The problem with waiting until we are retired is we are postponing engaging in things that could be making us happy right now. Exploring what gives us joy now and developing those skills will make for a much easier transition as you wave goodbye to your working years.
Something to retire to
Retirement represents a big shift in the way we live our lives and it’s not uncommon for that adjustment to be a little challenging. For many, our jobs give us a profound sense of identity and define how we perceive ourselves, so our sense of self can suffer when we leave the workforce. There is also often a gap in our lives where work used to be.
That’s why rather than looking forward to retiring from something, ‘have something to retire to’ is a common piece of advice to encourage people to think about what they want their life to look like when they leave the workforce.
Think about what defines you now and satisfies you outside of work, and putting in place a plan of how that may play out in retirement can be a good idea.
Start today to do the things you love
While it can be hard to carve out time while you are still in the workforce, it’s possible to take small steps and set aside dedicated time each week or commit to activities that won’t take a lot of your time.
If you are keen to travel when you retire, consider signing up for a short course in the language of the country you are keen on visiting to get prepared for the trip of your dreams.
Or if you want to finally write that novel you’ve been mulling over for years, set aside a little time now to draft a framework and get a head start. Who knows by the time you retire you may be on your second novel!
Keen to do more exercise? Join a gym now and get into a routine – even if you only manage to get there a couple of times a week it’s a good start.
It takes a while to develop new habits and skills so starting to pick up the things you want to explore in retirement now sets you up for a smoother transition when you have more time to devote to these activities. Starting now also gives you a chance to try things out and see if they are something you want to commit time and energy to.
Fostering connections with those you care about
While spending time doing things you love makes for a happy and satisfying retirement, another important factor is being around people you enjoy being with.
Think about the people you enjoy spending time with and foster those friendships right now. Not only will it make for an easier transition when you retire, it will also bring you joy and the benefits of those relationships right now. There is always room in your life for making new friends too!
The best laid plans can change
It’s important to be open minded in your plan of how you see your retirement unfolding. Remember that not everyone retires on their own terms. Some need to retire sooner than expected or in a different manner than expected due to ill health, caring for a family member or because of a decision or situation in the workplace.
On that basis, it’s important to live well now – enjoy your present life and embrace the things that make you happy as you’ll also be setting yourself up to enjoy retirement – whether it’s just around the corner or still a way off.