Retirement Lifestyle Planning; Your Vision For the Future

In the October 2002 edition of Benefits and Pensions Monitor, I spoke about the concept of Retirement Lifestyle Planning and that the first step in achieving a fulfilling retirement is knowing your vision of the future. The vision can be anything. Perhaps it’s retiring and moving to Florida to start a business or travelling the world. But regardless of what your vision is, you cannot achieve it without clearly defined goals.

There are a number of issues that directly impact the ability to define your goals. For the purposes of this article, I’ll only deal with two: understanding the transition from your working life to what’s now known as the “New Retirement”, and knowing your strengths and transferable skills.

Understanding the transition

You’ll recall from the first article that the meaning of retirement has changed. The New Retirement means retiring to something, not from something. It may mean a new career, going back to school, starting a business, new hobbies or volunteering. The reason for this change is that people now retire sooner and, due to medical advances, live longer. As such, the number of retired years during the average person’s life span has increased and will continue to do so. Therefore, it’s important to understand that when you retire from today’s working environment, you make a transition to a new stage in life – with a new structure – rather than simply kicking back and doing nothing.

The old retirement:

Work for over 40 years… Retire at age 65 Have a life expectancy of 70 – 75 years

The New Retirement means:

Build a career… Retire at age 55 and travel, work part-time, start a business or volunteer, etc. Live until 80+

The need for structure begins when we’re children and is defined by our parents. It continues when we enter the work force and the employer defines our structure. Upon retirement, most people find that they still require a structure to maintain a fulfilling existence with a strong sense of self-worth. The majority of people the Retirement Education Centre teaches derive their sense of self-worth from the structure their life at work provides. However, when they retire, they lose their structure and in turn their sense of self-worth. Having a vision of the future with clear goals will help a structure evolve in the next stage of your life where you can thrive, be happy and maintain your sense of self-worth.

Knowing your strengths and transferable skills

Also important to defining one’s goals is knowing your strengths and transferable skills. If, on retirement, you develop a new structure where you can use existing strengths and skills, you’ll find it far easier and less stressful than redeveloping your skill set. It’s important to pin point what exactly it is that you do well and what skills you have that enable you to do it. Then, you can transfer them to your new structure. For example, let’s say I want to start a business manufacturing widgets. However, during my working life I was a salesperson. In this scenario, I would have great difficulty applying my current skill set to that new environment.

My story
A number of years ago, I was downsized from my corporate job and ill prepared for the feelings of hurt, embarrassment and loss of self-image. And, like most people, I did not have a plan in place to help me make the transition to a new stage in my life. In other words, I was retiring from something, not to something. I was an excellent example of whom we now teach. Had I developed a vision for my future at the time, the process of being downsized would have been a very different experience.

However, I did eventually achieve a vision for my future. I came to understand the transition from my old life at work to my new structure and know what my strengths and transferable skills were. As such, I was able to clearly define my goals. Today, I operate my own business at the Retirement Education Centre and I belong to a local chapter of the Kiwanis Club. My new work and volunteering have formed part of a new structure that allows me to use strengths and skills developed in my previous life.

Why not begin to think about your next life stage now. What will your vision of the future be? What goals will you need to set in order to achieve that vision? Make an inventory of your strengths and transferable skills and enlist the help of your partner or closest friends for input. They will see you differently and more objectively than you do yourself. Here are some examples of strengths and transferable skills:

Strengths – enthusiastic, thoughtful, hard working, understanding, self-starter, intuitive, organized, thorough, determined, curious, imaginative, versatile and decisive.

Transferable skills – selling, purchasing, writing, training others, presenting, artistic, editing, organizing, gardening, supervising, mathematical, communicative and customer service.

I hope that you have found this information helpful and I wish you much success with your retirement lifestyle planning.

About Av Lieberman

Av Lieberman is the President of The Retirement Education Centre Inc. (RECI). Formed in 1996, RECI is an education, advocacy and research organization. It has developed a unique program that combines retirement education with transition planning. Under the sponsorship of companies’ organizations and unions, this program is taught to their employees and union members. RECI does not sell financial products and does not give advice. To learn more you may visit their website: www.iretire.org

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