Karen

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!

A Very Different Retirement

Retirement Isn't What It Used to Be!

Don't mention the R word

Don't mention 'the R word'!

I’ve had a problem with the word “retirement” for quite some time but things really came to head recently while looking for images to accompany this blog. Because THIS – (eyes right) THIS was the first image I was presented with!

Really? THIS is representative of retirement…. cups of tea and slippers? I dread to think what would come up if I typed in pensioner! I can’t even bring myself to go there!

Watch the video or scroll down to read more.

It's time for a re-brand!!

According to Ernest Hemmingway, “retirement” is the most depressing word in the English language… and I think he may have a point! The dictionary defines retirement as an ending, a conclusion, a termination, seclusion… which doesn’t exactly sound like a bundle of laughs does it?  

But I wonder what he’d think now because the retirement landscape has evolved and changed beyond recognition over the past few decades.

Official retirement ages have been steadily changing in response to our increasing longevity but those with workplace or personal pensions now have the choice to retire without waiting until their designated pension age of 66.  Retirement no longer means having to leave the world of work behind forever with many choosing ‘semi-retirement’ and electing to do some form of work even after they have officially ‘retired’. And then there are others who plan on working as long as possible, seeing no compelling reason to do otherwise.  

Things have certainly changed from our parent’s day when retirement offered very little in terms of new opportunities and was more often than not, an unfortunate prelude to a loss of identity, meaning, and purpose.  Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration perhaps but you get what I mean – retirement meant something completely different THEN to what it does NOW.

It’s reached a point where the lingering, negative connotations of the past are becoming increasingly problematic for many Third Agers, with some resolutely refusing to use ‘the R word’ at ALL because it just doesn’t represent who they are and what they want for this dynamic new life chapter. 

  • It’s time to reshape the narrative in response to how retirement has changed and evolved.
  • It’s time for “retirement” to be rebranded and given a make-over!
  • It’s time for “retirement” to be positioned as a unique period of possibility and opportunity.

'Retirement' no longer represents what we want for our next chapter

One thing’s for sure –   retirement isn’t what it used to be!

The old, traditional views of retirement are being swept away as today’s 60-somethings set about reshaping this life stage by putting things like fulfilment, purpose, enjoyment and flexibility at its heart. 

They’re choosing to enroll on courses… explore their creativity… embark on “encore” careers… fight for causes in which they believe or reinvest the skills accrued over a lifetime into their communities by volunteering, mentoring and campaigning.

The options are as mixed and varied as the people who choose them. 

But what do they all have in common?

Freedom of choice. 

Freedom to work… or not. Freedom to venture into pastures new… or not. Freedom to choose exactly HOW you want to spend your time, money and energy. Now if that doesn’t sound like something pretty wonderful, I don’t know what does.

No wonder those who now see this life stage as an opportunity for change, growth and reinvention, balk at the very word ‘retirement’! 

A significant life transition into unchartered territory

The whole concept of retirement has been revolutionised in the space of a generation but one thing’s still the same: it remains one of THE most significant life transitions we’re required to navigate as adults.

If you type the word “retirement” into Google you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s all about money or financial planning. And of course this is important but there are other HUGELY important aspects of retirement beyond getting the finances right, not least of which is the psychological transition we’re required to make.

No two people’s Third Age will look the same because we all want different things and while we are extremely fortunate to have so many opportunities,  (And by the way, if you haven’t done so already, take a look at the Dream Catcher it’s a great place to start.)

How would YOU like to rebrand retirement?

What does the concept/word “retirement” mean to you?  Does it adequately represent your reality?

 If we want to change the narrative, it’s up to us to tell the story of our new reality and start re-branding retirement!

Companies rebrand all the time…. old products disappear to be replaced with “new and improved” versions. Why not retirement?

I’ve been challenging the stereotypes about what we can and can’t do as we get older for the whole of my coaching career and redefining the concept of retirement needs to be part of that. Finding a word or phrase that defines the “new and improved” version of retirement would be a start…. any suggestions gratefully received!  

In the meantime, I’ll finish with this recent quote from the brilliant Serena Williams who said:

“I have never liked the word retirement. Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.”

SERENA WILLIAMS, TENNIS CHAMPION

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Your imagination is a powerful tool. Are you using it to create your next chapter?

Your imagination is a powerful tool. Are you using it to create your next chapter?

Just imagine...

One of my nephews went through a period of starting virtually every sentence with the word ‘imagine’ when he was about 7 years old. ‘Imagine if the dinosaurs actually DID actually come back to actual life.’ ‘Imagine what it would actually be like to have a fly’s actual eyes.’ (He liked to cram as many ‘actuals’ and ‘actuallys’ into these sentences wherever possible, as you may have noticed!.)

These conversations were exhausting and endearing in equal measure but his flights of fancy would take us both to some pretty amazing places! 

When was the last time you tapped into your imagination?

As adults we tend to slowly move out of the world of the imagination – and when we don’t we’re likely to be regarded as ‘dreamers’. But what’s wrong with dreaming anyway? As the very clever and perceptive Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”  Nice eh? If that’s not a strong endorsement of the power of imagination, then I don’t know what is!

 

It ALL begins in the imagination

Change of any sort always begins in the imagination first off and THEN gradually filters through into decisions, choices and new practices.

So if you want to change your future the place to START is by imagining a better one!

And yet, this incredibly potent tool which we all have at our disposal, is often under-utilised or completely ignored and consequently we waste one of our most precious resources.

Every success and every achievement begins life in the imagination, so actively building ‘dreaming time’ into our schedule seems to me to be an entirely valid way of conceiving the type of future we want for our Third Age. 

Imagination is a powerful creative force

I’m a great believer in the power of imagining and while you may say I’m a dreamer – oops sorry, I slipped into John Lennon territory for a moment – not that long ago I imagined a world where I could create a business out of my skills, talents and experience and this is now my reality. Not that long ago I imagined being able to connect with clients and colleagues from around the world from the comfort of my home office and this is now my reality.

 

So HOW do you harness your imagination?

For some, imagination comes easily and naturally, whereas others find it difficult to encourage their imagination to roam freely in the realm of possibilities.
 
So HOW can you create an environment in which your thoughts, dreams and imagination have free rein?
 
Well, I’ve probably tried all the usual suspects – vision boards… meditations…. affirmations… walks in nature… journaling…. and yes, ALL these things can work but one thing I DO know through personal experience is that the imagination can’t be forced – it works best when you’re relaxed – which is why so many of us have some of our best ideas in the shower! 
 

A simple way to start...

I am forever daydreaming and imagining new ideas, possibilities and opportunities – usually when I’m thinking about something completely different! But sometimes I get stubborn mental blocks where my imagination retreats into the deepest recesses of my mind and stays there!  

That’s when I use this simple little exercise (courtesy of the wonderful Marie Forleo) to reactivate my imagination and get my creative juices flowing again.

When I say ‘simple’ I mean super simple!  I just ask myself this:

‘Wouldn’t it be great if…’

Yup, that’s it! A simple invitation to my imagination to run wild and roam in far off places…. an invitation to explore desirable possible futures… to loosen up and open the flow!

Wouldn’t it be great if… I spent a month travelling every year?
Wouldn’t it be great if… I worked just two days a week?
Wouldn’t it be great if… I published a book?
Wouldn’t it be great if… I created an in person meet-up group for women just like me?
Wouldn’t it be great if… I took a course in psychology?
Wouldn’t it be great if… I ran with that idea I had about creating my own business?

 

Start to create your future simply by imagining a better one

There’s something about the laid back casualness of the ‘wouldn’t it be great if…’ that somehow circumvents the judgmental gatekeeper of our desires and lets them flow out uninhibited and without judgement.  

After letting that stream of wants out of your mind, you can then scan the list for the ones that fill you with a sense of ENERGY… because THEY are the ones that’ll guide you in the right direction and help you clarify your immediate next action step.

Et voila!

You’ve just broken through the paralysis and confusion of asking yourself the big ‘what’s next?’ question and not knowing the answer!

Life planning doesn’t come more powerful, simple or energising than this!  

Give it a go, and let me know how you like it.

Ready to start getting intentional?

So, what’s calling you? What changes are you contemplating?  Who do you need to be as you step into the next version of you?  Identifying the changes you want to make is a huge first step but it’s important to ease yourself into the process of change so you don’t get overwhelmed and give up.

If you need a little help to get started, do consider signing up for a Prime Time ReviewI think it’ll be the  perfect next step for you right now.