Navigating the Opportunities and Challenges of Modern Retirement

Navigating the Opportunities and Challenges of Modern Retirement

Not so long ago, retirement was pretty much a one-way ticket to the armchair or garden centre! Now I’ve nothing against armchairs or garden centres but the prospect of spending a couple of decades in either wouldn’t exactly fill me with joy and anticipation!

Thankfully, today’s retirees are the beneficiaries of some radical changes that have evolved over the last few decades. Retirement’s no longer seen as a time to just put your feet up but is now viewed as a positive new beginning – a chance to explore new possibilities and create a new life chapter that’s just as dynamic and fulfilling as the ones that came before, albeit in a different way.

So how come things have changed so radically for this generation?

Well, this is without doubt, a unique and fortunate generation – one that’s healthier, wealthier and better educated than ANY previous generation. They’re living longer, healthier lives, enabling them to stay active and engaged well into their next chapter. Retirees stand to live 20 to 30 years in this phase of life and consequently, many are seizing this opportunity to forge bespoke new lifestyle pathways.

And of course, many women today have spent all or most of their adult lives working outside the home, building careers and establishing themselves as highly valued members of the workforce. And, just as they changed the working world, now that they’re hitting retirement, they’re changing that too! They’re not going to suddenly ditch their desire to be productive, purposeful members of society and submissively accept an outmoded stereotype that no longer fits.

 That was never going to happen!

They are as vibrant and engaged as they ever were and now regard retirement as a springboard into a purposeful future. What they seek now is not so very different from what they sought when they first entered the workplace. They wanted to make a difference, feel fulfilled and make a contribution to society then, and they want the same now.

They want to make personal decisions that align with their values and create an outcome that’s right for them. And that’s a retirement lifestyle that’s very different from that of their grandparents, or parents. 

They want a modern retirement.

So what does a modern retirement actually look like for women?

Well, for many, it involves some form of work. This might mean continuing to work, either part-time or full-time or choosing to take advantage of new flexible working models by becoming self-employed freelancers or consultants. Or it might mean choosing to start a new business, pursue a passion project, or simply take on a job that’s less demanding than their previous career. Many women also choose to use retirement as an opportunity to give back to their communities, volunteering their time and expertise to causes they care about.

Of course, modern retirement isn’t just about work. It’s also about enjoying life and pursuing interests that may have taken a backseat during the busy years of career and family. This might mean traveling, taking up a new hobby, or spending more time with loved ones. For some women, retirement is a chance to finally indulge in the things they’ve always wanted to do, but never had the time or resources for. 

It’s an ideal time to pause and recalibrate and make new or different choices.

CHOICE is a fundamental part of modern retirement – offering a sense of freedom, autonomy, and empowerment.  Women today are no longer content to adhere to someone else’s idea of what retirement should look like. Instead, they’re charting their own course and creating bespoke, flexible retirement plans tailored to their individual needs, interests, and goals.

Which is undeniably good news BUT it's not without its challenges.

Choice can be a double-edged sword! 

With SO many options to consider – from where to live to how to spend your time – it can be overwhelming to decide what’s best.

And where there is overwhelm, there is procrastination. And where there is procrastination there’s time wasted… and as I’m sure you’re well aware, ‘time’ is a very precious commodity!

The temptation in this situation is to just ‘wing it’ in the hope that things will magically ‘sort themselves out’ into something meaningful, purposeful and enjoyable.

But that’s a LOT to leave to chance, isn’t it? 

And yet, that’s exactly how many end up wasting the first few valuable years of retirement – trying to figure out what they really want now… or wondering why retirement doesn’t look or feel like they thought it would… or sometimes questioning their decision to retire and worrying about what they could or should have  done better or different.

One way to overcome the challenge of ‘too much choice’ when creating a bespoke retirement plan is to start by identifying your priorities. 

  • What are the most important things to you? 
  • What are your non-negotiables? 
  • What do you want more/less of in your next chapter? 
  • What are you going to continue doing?
  • What do you want to change completely?

By getting clear on the fundamentals, you’ll find it SO much easier to narrow down your options and start making decisions. (The free Dream Catcher download will help you do this in 15 minutes or thereabouts!)

It will probably come as no surprise at all that my top recommendation is that you call upon the services of a retirement coach such as myself (shameless plug!) – someone who knows the territory well and brings outside expertise to the process. One of the many benefits of working with a retirement coach is that they bring a fresh perspective and help you see new possibilities and options that you may not have considered on your own as well as supporting you to turn your great thoughts and ideas into a fulfilling reality. 

Thankfully, the days of the one-size-fits-all retirement are long gone!  The undoubted gifts that modern retirement has to offer are there for the taking if you take the time to explore the possibilities before you and actively plan for the future you want. These can be the best years of your life – it’s up to you to make the most of them.

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Your Two Word Retirement Mantra

The Two Word Retirement Mantra

If ever I’m asked about the best way to start creating a meaningful retirement, I offer this 2 word nugget: be intentional!

What? That’s it?  Yep, pretty much! ‘Be intentional’ has fast become my 2-word mantra!

Let’s face it, we all WANT a good retirement but wanting isn’t the same as having is it?  We need to actually DO something about it. And that’s where the ‘intentional’ bit comes in – because if ever there was a time to start getting intentional about what we want and how we want to spend our time and energy in the years ahead, this is it!

Not much of a strategy you may think, but actually, it’s one that works every time! Being intentional simply means proactively giving your attention to finding the answers to these key questions… and once you have the answers, the rest is comparatively easy.

Intention plus attention is a truly powerful combination

I’d say this is true for virtually anything you want to achieve – but never more so than when you’re transitioning into this exciting new chapter!

Of course, you can always ‘wing it’ and take a more passive approach in the hope that things will magically ‘sort themselves out’ into something meaningful, purposeful and enjoyable. But that’s a LOT to leave to chance, isn’t it?  

But I get it, I really DO – staring a big life transition in the face can feel challenging, scary, and overwhelming.

One quality decision

We’re all vulnerable to these feelings and many find it easier to default to a passive position…. otherwise known as procrastination! But procrastination isn’t exactly a whole heap of fun is it? It’s frustrating at best and totally incapacitating at worst – it’s always ‘there’ in the back of your mind, keeping you stuck… unable to move forward, unable to go back.

I recently read that we are all one quality decision away from anything we want. The important word here being ‘quality’.  It doesn’t mean passively wishing or dreaming that you’ll do it. It means actively deciding.

If we never make this decision, we will never do.

But by making the decision to ‘be intentional’ we bring a powerful force into play to help us create a retirement by design, instead of by default. 

Yes, it takes a degree of faith, commitment and courage but wonderful things happen once you make that decision:

  • You can finally focus your attention
  • You become the creator of possibilities
  • You can start to define your options and choices
  • You can start to shape the outcomes you want
  • You open yourself up to and attract opportunities
  • You turn your ideas into a commitment
  • You shift from ‘castles in the air’ to laying firm foundations
  • It closes the door marked “What?” and opens a new door marked “How?”
  • You can begin.

Owning the direction of your life

Being intentional is about taking charge of your life rather than letting circumstances rule you. Change can be hard but the biggest danger comes not from doing the wrong thing, but from doing nothing

Once you make a start, you’ll be amazed at how easily everything else falls into place.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Once you make a decision, the world conspires to make it happen.”

Make an intentional start...

I know it can be tough to get started, which is why I encourage you to ease yourself in by taking the simple first step below. The Dream Catcher is a great starting point.


Does work feature in your retirement plans

Does work feature in your retirement plans?

Those of you who know me will be all too aware that I’m not a great fan of the word ‘retirement’…. mainly because the whole concept is now increasingly out of sync with modern reality for many of us. It’s still stuck with an identity hangover from our parent’s day, where retirement meant you left the world of work for good…  with a gold carriage clock tucked under your arm if you were lucky!!

As this life stage continues to evolve and change, the notion of ‘retirement’ as a one-time event that permanently divides work life from leisure is fast becoming a thing of the past.

Take me for example. At 67 I’m now officially eligible to call myself ‘retired’ and yet I still work. In fact, the thought of NOT working does not appeal to me AT ALL!  And why would it? I love what I do and get an enormous amount of fulfilment and satisfaction from it, so why would I choose to give it up?

Doing 'nothing' isn't all it's cracked up to be!

On the other hand, I also know people who have literally counted down the days until they retired, saying things like “I can’t wait for the day to come when I’ll be able to just kick back and do NOTHING. It’ll be like I’m on a permanent holiday!”

But for a good many, it turns out that a life of pure leisure isn’t necessarily all it’s cracked up to be and instead left them feeling bored, aimless and yearning for a bit of challenge, purpose and fulfilment! 

Waking up in the morning with no particularly urgent place to go, and no particularly urgent thing to do, can rapidly lose its appeal once the honeymoon period’s over. 

And sadly, most of us have examples of friends who struggled to find an identity outside of the workplace, leading in some cases to periods of illness, anxiety and depression

So where do you sit on the work/retirement continuum?

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that a record 173,000 pensioners entered employment in the three months to June. It signals quite the U-turn after hundreds of thousands of people in their 50s and 60s left the workplace during the pandemic as lockdown forced many of them to reassess their priorities.

Unable to survive on their pensions, many Third Agers have no choice but to return to work as a way to offset financial stress. It’s not surprising considering increasing numbers of this age group are expected to bear the heaviest brunt of the soaring cost of living, inflation and rising energy bills swallowing up much of their £9,627 a year state pension.

But what about those who actively CHOOSE to continue working past ‘retirement’ age?

For this group – myself included – the payoff goes way beyond income. It’s about things like self-worth, mental stimulation, social interaction, making a difference, purpose and fulfilment… to name but a few!

BUT that doesn’t necessarily mean we want to keep on working at the same pace or in the same way.

I no longer work 9 – 5, five days a week and I have a different work schedule for summer and winter, which affords me the work-life balance and flexibility I enjoy.

Indeed, flexibility is the word that crops up time and time again in my discussions with friends and clients alike.

The flexibility to…

  • choose our hours
  • dictate our pace
  • give up the long commutes
  • fit our work around other responsibilities
  • change course and do something different and personally meaningful
  • re-balance work with leisure
  • develop our own routines and structure
  • start an enterprise of our own
  • continue putting our experience to good use
  • create a mixed portfolio including things like part-time work, paid or unpaid consultancy and volunteering

What role will work play in your retirement?

In theory, we can choose to carry on till we decide otherwise, health permitting. Indeed, the numbers choosing to work on after their official retirement age have doubled to a record 1.19 million over the past ten years. The key word here is ‘choosing’ – choosing to do something you enjoy is very different to having to keep working out of financial necessity.

Modern retirement is all about making highly individual decisions and choices; there is no one-size-fits-all. But the idea of retiring as ‘not working’ needs to be reconfigured and updated to reflect our changing times.

What do you think: what role will work play in your retirement – will you carry on working and, if so, is that because you want to – or you have to?

If you would like to talk about this or any other aspect of your Third Age/retirement, a virtual coffee is the ideal option! It’s a chance for us to get together on the phone or zoom (your choice) for an informal, complimentary 30 minute chat. 

It’s perfect if you’re looking for some clarity and direction as well as getting any questions answered.

Look forward to speaking soon!