My main focus is on the retirement transition, but we can also consider our future earlier, around midlife.
With children born today likely to live to 100, there is much talk of the 100-year life. So around 50 we move into the second half of life.
The Government have been talking about Midlife MOTs, I’ve looked into them and they are very simplistic, most people I know would want to look deeper, but it is a prompt to take some time and take stock.
The midlife MOT focuses on just 3 areas – work, health and money. In my forthcoming book – Rethinking Retirement for Positive Ageing, as well as work, money and health I consider relationships, what gives us meaning and the psychological aspects of retirement.
Today, let me focus on 5 areas:
A midlife review is a good time to ask yourself some questions such as – am I happy with my work? Would I like to do something else? What do I want more of and less of? Is this the time to make a significant change, and if so, to what?
Do you need to undertake some training and development and how can your employer support you?
If your work is physically demanding, will you be able to continue to undertake this into your 60s? If not is a change of career now a better option?
Looking ahead we may want to focus on flexible working to give us greater freedom and to move to part time rather than a hard stop retirement.
You are likely to have children, at differing ages and with the challenges, and pleasures they bring. Our parents are getting older and perhaps need more support. Time to discuss future needs with parents and siblings in advance of a more significant need.
There’s also the family that you may have lost contact with. Whilst for some there may be estrangement, often our lives are busy and we lose touch. Would now be a good time to rekindle relationships.
It’s a good idea to talk to your partner about how you envisage the future. If one of you wants to take things easy, and the other wants to sell up and back pack around the world there’s going to need to be some deep discussion.
As we consider ageing it may give us a nudge to pay more attention to our health. We may want to become more active, make sure we eat our five-a-day. Knowing we want a healthy later life can get us focused on creating new habits now.
I had a midlife health check at my doctors recently, which checked blood pressure, for signs of diabetes and a conversation with a practice nurse. You may like to see if one is available at your surgery.
You may have started making pension contributions when you started work, or it may not have been suggested to you. Now is a good time to get some sense of how much personal pension you will have. Also, if you have taken a career break to check that your NI contributions are registered.
It’s worth checking on the government website to see if we are in line for the full state pension, and if we have missing years, it is generally best to make up the contributions.
Work and family can take up so much of our waking hours but we also need some time to undertake things just for us. To have things that give us joy? Do you have interests and hobbies that allow you to unwind and you find satisfying?
Some of the people I work with find their life out of balance and asking questions around this can get them thinking of what would nurture their soul.
I’ve been working with Aegon who have produced a fantastic booklet – The Second 50 – Navigating a multi-stage life. Alongside this I was on 14 radio stations with Steven Cameron, Pensions Director for Aegon UK. You can listen again to one of the radio shows here, this was Friday Night Clive, on Black Country Radio.
The report is based on research that is in line with what I found. Only 27% of people expect a ‘hard stop’ retirement and people will continue to work because they enjoy working (57%) or to keep their mind active (54%).
People aged 50-59 expect to spend about a fifth of retirement in ill health yet only 25% have considered the costs of social care expenses in retirement.
Picture your future
If you are 50 today, you are likely to live an average of 36 more years so it is helpful to consider the sort of future we want to have. To have a vision for life at 65 or 70. Without a vision there is a tendency for people to drift, and often to continue to work as they haven’t considered the alternatives.
When I talk with people in old age, some talk about the regrets from earlier. They wished they had taken a risk and said yes rather than play it too safe. They wish they hadn’t waited till retirement to travel, as their partner alas never made it. They wish they hadn’t worked for so long and feel they missed out on the fun years, only stopping to work when it was dictated to by health problems.
I want, and I would like the same for you, to reach an old age, to look back on my life and to think, yes, I made mistakes, I have some regrets, but overall, I’m satisfied with the life I had.
There’s an interesting activity you can complete – picture your best life, where you choose pictures around your future and can download as a collage. Either use the photos provided or add your own.
Enjoy taking some time to review your life and if you would like to go deeper, get in touch.