Maretta Dillon chats with Derek Bell, Chief Operations Officer
with The Retirement Planning Council of Ireland (RPCI).
It may be a bit of an irony but while Derek Bell – COO of RPCI since October last- is counselling those ready to retire, he himself is relishing his new role with the organisation.
In the first of a two part series, he highlights the challenges and opportunities for those ready to give up the day job. While financial and money concerns are often the first thing prospective retirees think of, it is the other more emotional adjustments that can be just as impactful.
New retirees can expect a change in their routine, their identity and their relationships. Family and friends are often the ones most affected. This new reality needs to be considered carefully and preferably in advance of doing the actual deed.
Talk to the person you are with! As noted earlier, retirement is going to affect more than you. Your partner or spouse will have to adjust to having you around in what was often their ‘space’. How will being at home all day impact on their established routine? Are you both in danger of cramping each other’s style? How can you best manage a new routine to everyone’s satisfaction? Imagine, discuss and plan a “typical week and a “typical” month – consider separate as well as joint activities.
If you are the one in the office environment you will have developed a certain work persona – remember to leave it there. It is unlikely that acting the part of CEO, Administrator, Nurse or Sales Representative at home will be much appreciated. Easing out of roles that feel very familiar in order to adopt perhaps a more relaxed unhurried style takes patience, diplomacy and self-knowledge.
If you are not in a relationship, then you may need to work harder to maintain and indeed grow your social network. Replacing the work ‘crowd’ with others will probably require some thought, direct action and a willingness to step outside your comfort zone. The 9am to 5pm time can be awkward, in that many of the people you currently socialise with will still be working – you can socialise in the evenings and at weekends but who is available during the daytime?
Derek advises that you think about transitioning out of the workplace gradually, if possible. Maybe reduce the number of days you work each week rather than simply quitting in one go. Think about what time of year you might leave – facing into retirement is not so easy in the dark days of November compared with the lengthening days of spring or summer.
Take a look at your hobbies, what do you enjoy doing? Is there something you have always wanted to do? A week is a long time, (typically 50 hours per week, every week), to fill so you may need to take on more and new pastimes than you might have done previously – think Individual / Group; Mental / Physical and Summer/ Winter activities.
Volunteering is certainly something that can be very beneficial for you but also for the organisation or charity that can now access your skills and expertise. This might take various forms including mentoring or event management. Essentially anything that allows you to put your life skills to good use while at the same time keeping you active and busy. It’s a win win situation if you approach it right – start small and add on rather than jumping in too quickly! Volunteer with an organisation whose aims and values you identify with.
Derek cautions that it is very important to set boundaries particularly around family commitments and responsibilities. There can be a tendency for others to assume that the newly retired have unlimited time to dedicate to the needs of others. Helping family members can be rewarding and the chance to spend more time with grandchildren is one of the big pluses. However, you need to be careful that you don’t become the solution to everyone else’s childminding, pet sitting and shopping problems. Learning to say “NO” politely but firmly is a very important lesson in this regard.
Other potential traps include letting the self-discipline – something that the workplace really demands – slide a little. With no work to get up for in the morning, it’s easy to have that extra glass of wine or graze a little too much on food during the day. It all adds up in terms of developing bad habits!
Your retirement is a project and visualising what it will look like – what time will I get up each day? What is my routine? What activities and hobbies will I commit to each week is very important? That way you are more likely to stay occupied as well as mentally and physically fit and engaged.
That said; enjoy your new found freedom! Life expectancy continues to rise in the developed world. The chance of living to beyond 90 is 47% for a man and 55% for a woman. Retirement is potentially for as long as your previous working life.
Planning your future requires optimism, enthusiasm and a bit of know how. This hugely transitional period can be daunting for some. RPCI provides training courses that help you set smart and achievable goals for a happy and fulfilled retirement.
In the next part, Derek considers some of the financial issues facing those approaching retirement.
Established in 1974, the RPCI is a Registered Charity, a not for profit organisation, wholly independent of all financial institutions and with a voluntary board of directors. RPCI is based at 14/15 Lower Camden Street, Dublin 2 Phone: 01 478 9471 / www.rpc.ie Courses are held in Dublin and around the country on a very regular basis. Please check the website for more details.