I recently interviewed journalist and author, Celia Dodd on The Retirement Café Podcast, about her most recent book, ‘Not Fade Away: How to thrive in retirement’ (named after her favourite Rolling Stones song, Not Fade Away.)
She explained that the book is a guide for the fiercely independent generation who have no intention of fading away when they retire.
Celia decided to write the book to help remove the fear present for some people as they approach retirement. Her own father had a less than successful retirement, so she set out to understand the characteristics of the lives of those thriving in retirement.
A monumental transition
The traditional lines of retirement have blurred. Many people no longer envisage themselves as stepping off the retirement cliff, but instead see a life of part-time work, volunteering and other fulfilling activities ahead of them.
It’s wonderful that there’s so much choice and so much opportunity now, but also with choice becomes some tough decisions. It can feel quite overwhelming, the different choices on offer and the different expectations that people have of retirement.
Celia established that retirement is a very individual thing and people need to work out what is right for them.
Some common success factors
Celia’s own dad had a very sad retirement. He struggled when he gave up work and became very, very depressed and never really recovered. Of course you come across people like that all the time, people who really can’t cope without the status of work or without the social networks and all of the things that work brings.
One thing he could perhaps have done differently is to have thought about his future and created some kind of a plan.
Celia’s father didn’t have any social networks which were not to do with work. Some of the recent research shows that that’s one of the most important things. If you can build social networks before you retire, doing things that you enjoy doing anyway, whether it’s a walking group or book group or anything, these act as a bridge between your old life and your new life.
Carrying on learning
If only he could’ve found something that he wanted to carry on or to learn from scratch, whether it was a sport or a language or whatever… all of these things, just staying curious, getting out there instead of just sitting at home thinking about the past. The key is, this is the future and you could have 30 years ahead of you of fabulous life with lots of changes and lots of new opportunities.
Finding purpose is obviously the big thing. It’s the big challenge. There are all kinds of ways that you can set about finding a new purpose.
Quite a lot of deep soul searching may be required. Perhaps it isn’t just sitting staring into space thinking, but actually, talking to other people or maybe having the discussion facilitated by a financial life planner.
In her book Celia interviewed 60 people about the experiences of what worked for them, about how they found meaning. Some people find it by taking time out, going and having a holiday. Some people find it by trial and error.
Reinvent your relationship
To see it positively, retirement can be the sort of shakeup that a lot of couples need if you’ve been together a long time, because it demands that you take stock. It demands that you almost reinvent your relationship or think really hard about it. Of course the best way to do that is by talking to each other.
Studies show that the transitional period can be quite difficult, but after that, retirement can really improve marriages.
Of course part of the transition is that territory thing. So, whoever it is has been at home has to adjust to having another person there in the house. You’ve got to work out your territory.
Having those discussions can be really productive rather than just carrying on as we have done for years when we’ve been working or whatever.
Create your new routine
When you’re not going out to work, you’ve got to really create your own new daily routine.
Celia interviewed one man who did just that.
Jim really, really does enjoy being on his own, but he has developed a very strict routine. He goes to the gym three times a week in the morning at 9:00 a.m., then he goes to Café Nero and has his coffee, and then he goes to volunteer teaching in a school. So it’s almost like a new working routine that he’s worked out. He does love it. And he loves living on his own.
Help others and help yourself
Helping other people is a really good way to help yourself.
Take advantage of opportunities and keep meeting people, stay connected, and do something that you find fulfilling and worthwhile. If you do find it fulfilling and worthwhile, it’s probably delivering a huge amount to the people you’re interacting with as well.
For many people, this is the first time you can do something that really matters to you, that’s worthwhile to you. After all, we’ve been working for all these years doing something that probably matters a lot more to somebody else.
This is your time to really find what resonates with you. It helps everybody: it helps you, it helps everybody else.
You can listen to my interview with Celia Dodd on episode 036 of The Retirement Café Podcast.