5 questions to find out if you’re ready for retirement

2018-06-14 06:00

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There are a handful of choices in life that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Choosing a career path, committing to a life partner or deciding when to retire are a few of these pivotal decisions. But how well can you prepare for them?

Research shows, a successful retirement is not only down to the pennies in your pocket: it also requires a stockpile of emotional reserves. Despite the stereotype of retirement as a time of relaxation, the reality is that it also presents people with a number of significant adjustment challenges for them and their families - not only financial, but social, psychological and emotional.

With that in mind, here are 5 important questions that can help you find out if you’re ready to retire:

1. How well did you plan your finances?

According to 2017 statistics, 40% of South African households have neither pension plans or retirement annuities (RA). If you find yourself in this bracket of the population, easy online tools like a retirement calculator can help you get an idea of how much money you’ll need to retire. If you fall under the other 60% of South African households that either have pension plans or RA’s, you can still use the retirement calculator to compare your fund credit to your projective retirement needs.

2. What are your expectations for retirement?

Many retirees have an idealised image of a care-free retirement. The problem then is that when perfectly normal feelings such as isolation, boredom even regret creep in. Instead of dealing with them openly, people tend to cast these ‘taboo’ feelings aside, causing a persistent sense of unease in daily life. Tracy Jensen, Chief Financial officer of 10X Investments, says that retirement can change so much more than the amount of time and money you have at your disposal. “Such a big life change can affect the mind, the body and the soul in many ways too.”

A good way to prepare for this change is to acknowledge that responses to retirement are both individual and complex. Write up a list of anticipated positive and negative changes and discuss them with family or friends. That way, you can plan for potential challenges.

3. How will you adjust to more time at home?

In 1991, Japanese physician Dr. Kurokawa found that many women suffered debilitating physical symptoms such as anxiety and hypertension after their husband’s retirement. Dr. Kurokawa went on to name this the Retired Husband Syndrome (RHS).

Although one of the perks of retirement is spending more time at home, it can be a difficult change for both you and your family. Most people are well accustomed to a daily routine in which they spend a portion of their time away from family members. And even though most find this transition initially positive, as time goes on many find that independent activities become important to maintain a sense of individuality and preserve the healthy boundaries. 

4. What will define you instead of your career?

If you identify strongly with your job, retirement can be more difficult than you might expect. Ginny McReynolds, who writes on retirement for the Washington Post, says that retirees who seem to have no trouble going from working to not working did not identify themselves mostly by what they did for a living - “Even if they did call themselves accountants or physicists, they no doubt also relied on other self-definitions”.

A good way to address this is to think about what your career means to you in terms of your personal roles and identity and think of alternative means of expressing these aspects of yourself. 

5. Where will you get new sources of social interaction?

People who retire can be caught off guard by the sudden drop in social connections, not realising how much they had relied on people at the office for company and engagement. If you are the type of person who enjoys this social aspect, a good way to deal with this transition is to join groups or clubs prior to your retirement, so that you can have a social network outside of the office and family. The Helderberg Society for the aged in Somerset West suggests that prospective retirees should maintain sound friendships but also try to establish new connections through shared interests and hobbies.

Retirement is a time of major change that affects almost every aspect of our lives. In order to enter this new phase well prepared, a holistic planning process is required in which we evaluate both our material and psychological resources. 

The experts agree on another thing: the better your retirement plan, the better your adjustment to retirement is likely to be. 

Start your plan today with one of 10X’s Retirement Experts, for an objective take on your financial future. Find out more about 10X Investments One Percenters offer - Sign up before 30 June and get 6 months fee free. Contact 10X's retirement experts for a free fee comparison

This content is sponsored by 10X and co-created with Brandstudio24 for News24.

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