The word ‘retirement’ conjures up a range of confusing or even contradictory feelings for people these days. Once upon a time, retirement was a defined day, usually marked by a birthday, after which any form of paid employment ceased immediately. A combination of factors, including the end of compulsory retirement and increased longevity, mean that people are now working well past the age of eligibility for their pension. For some, this means just continuing on with their career as it was, either full time or part time, but an increasing number are seeing retirement as an opportunity to do something completely different in life. What better time in life to experiment, with a modest standard of living guaranteed by pension income, no mortgage payments and no dependent children to worry about?
There are many famous examples of people who have started businesses late in life, including Ray Croc, founder of McDonalds and Colonel Sanders, founder of KFC who had both celebrated their 65th birthdays before they created their global empires. For some, the motivation to try something new is driven by the desire to have a higher income in retirement, while for others, it is all about the excitement of trying new things; perhaps things they have always secretly wanted to do.
There is a great little book called ‘Don’t Just Retire: Reformat’ written for such people by Dr Lynda Falkenstein (Niche Press, 2005), full of ideas for how to reinvent yourself in retirement. Lynda suggests three important questions to ask yourself: If you could, with a wave of a wand, be doing anything you want, what would it be? What is it that gives you the greatest personal joy and fulfillment? What are you doing to ensure ‘it’ is an enduring feature of the rest of your life?