We’ve all had those moments when work feels utterly endless. It’s just a constant cycle of meetings, deadlines, clients – the idea of there actually being a time when you’re no longer constrained by these daily struggles seems like some impossible utopia. But it’s on the horizon, and you need to prepare for it.
In fact, you need to do more than just prepare. You need to switch away from the mindset of “Get me out of work ASAP” to one where you will have day after day of “I can do whatever I want, whenever I want” for possibly 20 or 30 years of retirement. Will that be satisfying for you? For some, yes, but for others, it’ll be a resounding no.
The meaning of work
Our professional lives can contribute enormously to how we perceive ourselves. Work can provide us with a sense of purpose, social status, structure in our lives, and the ability to engage with other like-minded professionals. So it’s understandable that for many of us, it will be very challenging to transition from a week filled with demands and daily interactions to a retirement where the phone suddenly stops ringing.
Ideally, the end of full-time work shouldn’t be an unexpected event. It should happen under the circumstances you’ve created, at a time of your choosing. Retirement will look different for everyone. Perhaps it means working four days a week instead of six, dedicating three days to professional work and two days to volunteering, or even taking a career break to test the waters before fully embracing retirement. It could even be an opportunity to explore a long-held business idea, or to mentor someone and help bring their entrepreneurial dreams to life.
Whatever retirement looks like to you, it will take planning to make it happen. And this plan should consist of two crucial parts: personal preparation and financial preparation.
1. Personal preparation
If you’ve managed to forge out a successful professional career, there might have been limited opportunities to develop your interests and friendships outside of the traditional ‘work sphere’. Therefore, your personal preparation for retirement should start with thinking about what interests you beyond your job. Is it a sport you used to play, a creative hobby you’ve always wanted to explore, getting more involved in the community, spending more quality time with your family, or an opportunity to pursue further education?
There may be board positions you are particularly interested in, and volunteering at an animal reserve, or as part of a marine rescue team working in a Port Stephens control tower. Quite honestly, the possibilities are often endless.
If you’re unsure where to begin, try approaching this phase as if you have a blank page in front of you, ready to be filled with new experiences and adventures. Don’t be afraid to entertain even the most out-there ideas. Use your network and the vast resources of the internet to figure out the best way to chase your dreams.
2. Financial preparation
At the other end of your retirement preparation is the financial aspect – and transforming your retirement plan from a vague idea into a set of clearly defined goals.
This is where there is value in reverse engineering – by starting with your personal preparation, of how you would like to live, and determining what you need to prepare to reach that point. That may encompass superannuation, cash flow organisation, insurance options, estate planning, and more. However it comes down to shaping those options in a way that suits your very unique circumstances, and coming as close as possible to guaranteeing that you have the resources you need to live the post-work life you’ve always dreamed about.
Your overarching mission should be to give you enough financial freedom to transition from work life to retirement – all while building your wealth. That means recognising that retirement is not just about having enough money – it’s about having the tools and plans that match your long-term goals, both personally and financially.
Your path to retirement
No two retirements are identical. It’s a unique journey for every individual, and it requires thoughtful preparation – both personal and financial – to get right. Whether your retirement means chasing new interests, spending more time with loved ones or passing your expertise onto the next generation, your financial adviser can guide you every step of the way.