Retirement – love it when a plan comes together!

2016-06-02 06:54

The A Team’s ‘Hannibal’ Smith was the man with the plan – and we could all learn from him. Most of us get the good intention part OK, but the details aren’t so much fun, and the wheels fall off with the application.

So here we are, looking down the road of a 25 year retirement. If we’ve been diligent, we’ve got some money in a couple of retirement funds and if we’ve been very diligent we’ve got enough to see us through those 25 years. But for most of us there won’t be enough, so we need to come up with a plan.

Logically, we think it would be wisest to do more of the “same old – same old” – so if we were a Teacher, we do some more teaching. If an Accountant, we do tax returns, if an Artisan, we become a handyman, if a Business person we become a consultant.

But our career was chosen by a teenager; it was that teenager who decided that we wanted to be a Teacher, Accountant, Artisan, Business person. What does this older, experienced adult want? We need to step back from The Plan for a moment and have a look at who we are.

Let’s start with the career. Now that it’s over, what do we need to ‘let go’? The status, the authority, the salary, the long hours, the stress, the frustrations, the regrets and the self-beliefs that never worked for us? What do we want to ‘keep’? Our friends, our family, our experience, our knowledge of how the world works, our curiosity and our sense of humour (if we ever had one)?

Then, it would be nice to know what’s going on in our head. We’ve all got voices that keep telling us what to do, what to think. Wouldn’t it be a relief to shut them up for a moment? And the way we interpret things – we call a friend and they don’t answer – and we immediately jump to “they don’t like us any more”? Where does that sort of rubbish come from?

What about what’s happening in our body? What brought on that ulcer, that heart murmur, those extra 20kgs, that pain in the neck (literally)? What life-style choices have we made that need changing?

Now we can start thinking about what lies ahead. What is it that we want to do – and far more important, how do we want to be? It is how we are being that defines us in retirement. In our working life we were too busy doing things to pay the bills and get through each day to concern ourselves too much with “being-ness”. But we are, after all, human beings, not human doings!

Modern medicine has gifted us 20 extra years – and yes, there is day to day “business” that needs to be taken care of, but this is our opportunity to rediscover and redefine our self.  It is our opportunity to make a difference in somebody’s world; it’s our opportunity to make a difference in the world at large. What that difference will be is up to us – no “boss” telling us what to do – just us, being who we need to be.

It is also our opportunity for spiritual growth – not necessarily religious (but that too). As our body weakens there is a release of our self-important ego. We become more concerned about the needs of others and of humanity. This stage in our life is characterised by gratitude, humility, forgiveness and acceptance; we look for significance, belonging, meaning and love and we develop a greater awareness and trust in, our inner guidance and our higher self (and if that sounds like God – so be it).

But this isn’t going to fall into place all by itself. We have to have a plan and we need others to help us stick to that plan. The Elders Journey helps us develop the plan and the Society of Elders helps us stick to it.

Thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one’s thoughts into action, is the most difficult thing in the world. (Goethe)

Alan Maguire is a Retirement Coach and has developed The Elders Journey to guide people in making their transition into retirement and old age. For information on the Workshops and Retreats he runs, contact him on

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