By now, if you are somewhere in the retirement experience – either approaching it, passing through it or leaving it behind – you will already have experienced firsthand your own childhood and maybe that of your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Now you are heading to experience later life, which for most of us will stretch forward for more time than we might have expected all those years ago.
We have reached the point where being ‘over the hill’ should mean something quite different to what we might have thought when we were younger, about older people. Time has not caught up with us, but we have now captured it – it will be ours to do with what we will. If we are ‘over the hill’ then it is more a case of picking up speed and looking for what we can open up in front of us, further down the line.
What’s your concept of a later life plan? Is it a path along which you plan to travel, a bit like Dorothy setting off down the Yellow Brick Road, in the Wizard of Oz? Or should we view our future and plan from the perspective of Willie Wonka’s Great Glass Elevator, quite unlimited in its potential to travel up, down, sideways, forwards or backwards. For most of us, later life can be a period of opportunity.
Making sure we’re prepared for all of the above is about more than financial planning. Quality of life concerns, desire and purpose come before finance, which is there to support the manner of living to which we would want to become accustomed. There is little doubt that we will need to cut our cloth accordingly, but not everything in later life comes with a price tag attached. Maybe your planning needs to err on the side of non-materialistic things, affordable opportunities: doing rather than owning!
The later life planning process is as important as the outcomes. The emerging plan will always be open to revision. Tinkering with your plan, bucket-list, short-term calendar and one-page plan will become part of the adventure. Satisfying needs in your plan will not be enough: go for the wants and desires, and hopefully these won’t all be about spending money!
If you are ready for planning around retirement and holistic later life planning, here are five priority components which should inform your thinking and your plans:
1 – Health and Wellbeing – thinking about how to sensibly exercise, keep fit and not over-abuse your physical body. With later life comes physical decline and it’s best to slow this down. Bits of you will sag or fail you eventually, but an active lifestyle is a major part of a quality life.
2 – Social Life – most of us need a social life and in retirement this becomes more important, replacing a work orientated lifestyle. See what’s available, plan to renew relationships, join in things and investigate local opportunities.
3 – Breaks, Holidays and Adventures – plan to punctuate your later life with these, which often bridge the longer quieter periods, and become highlights. This is where the ongoing bucket-list approach to planning is so useful. Cross them off and find more!
4 – Work – being gainfully occupied late in life might be a nice earner and could be a focus for your planning if you have long hankered to do something different as work or in a business. Otherwise, and in addition, consider getting involved in the world of voluntarism.
5 – Learning Activities – these can be any part of the other components, where you learn within each. You could pursue formal learning or plan to learn as you go along, from your enriched later life and the opportunities and experiences you have planned for.