Sunday, October 23, 2016

Ready for retirement? (1)

Most of us spend years looking forward to retirement, while for others it can be a living hell! The optimists dream of an end to the 9 to 5 life, daily commuting to and from work, being a wage slave and supporting the lifestyle of a boss they do not like........all that in exchange for endless lazy days at home, pursuing hobbies and other lifelong interests, and a holiday that seems to go on for ever.

The reality problaby lies somewhere in between these dreams and now officially 'retired' for over fifteen years and having looked at many studies and discussions on the subject, as well as talking to others, here's a selection of what I have learnt (in no particular order!). You can check out numerous books and websites offering information and advice.

- Some of us seem programmed to enjoy retirement while others are not, and how much you enjoy or hate retirement will depend on you. Even if you are reasonably well off financially and in good health, comfortably settled with your partner, close to family and friends - you have some of the ingredients that can contribute a happy retirement. Hobbies and interests that you always enjoyed outside work can help, and part of your retirement plan could be to develop these interests, teach or work with others, learn more about your hobby or interest(s), earn a degree or other qualification.

- If all or some of the above do not apply to you - you live alone, are short of money, miss your old job and the daily contact it gave you, did not develop outside interests or a sport - then retirement can be more difficult. At worst you may feel rejected by society, 'on the scrap heap' at 60 or younger, and no idea of how you are going to spend hours, days, months, years of 'freedom'. In my own case being sellf-employed virtually all my life and being forced to leave Central London when my apartment was literally snatched from under my feet (see previous entry 'My story') and I had to totally re-think my future.

- 'Any decision is better than no decision' is the first of my three guiding principles in life, and with all this time on your hands it is easy to put off making decisions. My advice is to act - talk to friends to the extent of boring them, look at books and websites, find out the facts rather than speculate on what 'might be', Explore the options. All these wil help you reach the right decision - and quickly.

- 'Never look back' - the second of my guiding principles. Yes, I wish I had saved more, bought a property instead of renting, found more clients who paid good money (though I always seemed to be working pretty hard!), planned for the future instead of not thinking about it, sorted out my healthcare etc etc. What's done is done - or not done! - and there is no sense in looking back.

'It seemed like a good idea at the time' - which brings me to the third of my guiding princples. If you find yourself looking back or convincing yourself you made a bad decision, best not to dwell on it for too long......

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