7 Steps for Managing Your Retirement
Preparing for Life After Work
Retirement can be a time of mixed emotions.
Perhaps you can't wait to retire. Sure, you love your job, but soon you'll have the time to fulfill those lifelong dreams that you've nurtured for years.
Or, maybe the idea of not working anymore fills you with dread. Will you lose that feeling of purpose and sense of achievement that only a job well done can bring? And how about the drop in earnings?
Reaching retirement is a profound milestone in life, but too often it's something many of us are unprepared for.
In this article, we'll explore seven steps for managing your retirement, leaving a great legacy for your team, and easing you into life after work – on your terms.
How to Manage Your Own Retirement
This article is intended for potential retirees themselves. See our article, How to Manage People's Retirement, to help a team member who is thinking of retiring.
Bringing your working life to a close is a big step to take, and a decision that needs careful planning. You can use the following tips to help you make a successful transition from working life to retirement.
1. Make Sure You're Ready for Retirement
Timing your retirement can be difficult.
You need to carefully balance the pros and cons of potential retirement dates. Carrying out a personal SWOT analysis can also help you to decide the optimal time to retire. Choose several possible dates, and plan as many possible scenarios as you can.
Neither the U.S. nor the U.K. has formal legal retirement ages – regulations in other countries vary – so your retirement date is unlikely to be set in stone. Unless you're in an occupation which has a compulsory retirement age (such as airline pilot or firefighter), you'll probably be able to choose your own date of departure.
A sensible first step is to contact a financial advisor as you need to consider whether you can afford to retire in the first place. It's a good idea to begin this process up to five years before your probable retirement age.
2. Talk to Your Boss About Retirement
Take the initiative, and begin a conversation with your boss about your retirement – particularly if you've got clear ideas about how you want to handle it.
Your manager won't know your plans for the future. He or she may even feel anxious about raising the subject with you, as doing so could be viewed as age discrimination in some circumstances.
If you're unsure about making the first move, look for indicators that he is open to discussing your retirement. During a one-on-one, he may ask what plans you have or where you see yourself in five years, for example.
Above all, don't avoid the topic. Even if it feels stressful to think about and plan, make sure it's on your manager's radar.
3. Keep Your Focus up to Retirement
Avoid the temptation to just let yourself "wind down" once you've made the decision to retire.
You may find yourself counting the days to retirement, but you'll likely have plenty that you still need and want to do, particularly if someone new will be taking over your position when you go.
When you've fixed a retirement date, it's a good idea to meet with your manager and HR team and draw up a handover plan. You'll then be able to leave your role with no loose ends.
This will help you maintain your focus, motivation and performance levels, so that you remain a valued team member right up to your retirement day.
4. Leave a Positive Legacy
Your team and organization will carry on after you retire, so help them to adjust to life without you.
You've likely built up a body of knowledge and experience that your co-workers are used to drawing on, and it's important to capture and organize this.
Your day-to-day tasks and the processes that you use should be fairly straightforward to pass on. But there'll be a large amount of other, less quantifiable, information that you should think about leaving your successors. This is sometimes called tacit knowledge, and it covers the experiences, working methods, and creative solutions that you've built up over time.
Consider writing a legacy document that covers the different aspects of your role, with information on your contacts, best practices and tips and tricks.
This will provide your successor with a blueprint for the role. It'll also give you an opportunity to reflect on, and be proud of, everything that you've achieved. For more information about creating a legacy, see our article What Is Legacy Thinking?.
5. Let Go Gradually
Retirement is a chance to enjoy some hard-earned rest. But you may not feel that you're ready to completely give up work just yet.
Here, if your manager agrees, you have three main options:
First, you could ask to work part-time, or perhaps from home. This would allow you to gradually scale back your working commitments, and adjust to a new life, while staying involved with your old job.
Second, they might be happy for you to stay on for a while longer in a different, lower-intensity role. This would lighten your workload, reduce stress, and give you a chance to pass on your knowledge.
Third, consider staying on as a mentor. Some organizations even offer retiring workers the chance to volunteer as mentors for their own successors.
If your company makes you such an offer, consider it a compliment: it means that they value your experience and know-how. It also gives you the opportunity to leave your mark on the team, even more than you already have.
Any mentoring arrangement will likely begin some time before your actual retirement date, but if all parties agree, there's no reason why it can't continue after you leave.
If you think that you might be interested in mentoring, check out our Bite-Sized Training™ session on Mentoring Skills. You may also benefit from reading our article, Mentoring Agreements and Coaching Plans.
6. Stay in Touch After Retirement
One of the most challenging adjustments for new retirees is being suddenly cut off from the friends they've made at work.
Your organization may have a network of former employees, or dedicated social media groups, that you can join. They may also have an employee assistance program that allows you to stay in touch, and to develop new skills and interests.
7. Plan a Productive Retirement
From day one, you'll have the time to do the things that you've dreamed of for years! Think about what activities, interests and networks will make you happy and give your life new purpose.
Draw up a personal mission statement to give you a clear plan for what to do next. You could volunteer for a charity, take up a hobby, sign up for a college course, or even set yourself up as a freelance worker.
Plan to do things that bring you into contact with other people, and which reconnect you with friends and family. Start to plan (and even begin) these new activities before you finish your current employment.
Remember to pace yourself, too: you don't have to fill every second with meaningful activity. Make a few key decisions and let them play out in their own time.
Above all, retirement is a chance to look back with pride on all the great achievements in your career, as well as being the dawn of an exciting new stage of life.
Retirement is a major life event, and it's natural to have mixed feelings about it. It's best to make a measured decision on timing, and to develop a plan on how you'll move forward – both up to and after your retirement date.
Following these seven key steps will allow you to successfully plan and manage your retirement:
- Make sure you're ready for retirement.
- Talk to your boss about retirement.
- Keep your focus up to retirement.
- Leave a positive legacy.
- Let go gradually.
- Stay in touch after retirement.
- Plan a productive retirement.
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