We are told that it is our work that gives meaning to our life. When there are bills to pay it certainly can give us a reason to get up. But how meaningful is our work? To what extent would we do it if we weren’t getting paid.

Once we start to receive our pension, we have more options.

  • It can take away our overall salary as a key driver and let us focus on what is important.
  • We can also take a more rounded view of our life – it is not just work and hobbies or down time. but how we want to craft and structure our overall day, week or month.
  • Work can give us meaning but so too can spending time with people, and how we contribute to the well being of others or have some impact on wider society.

I live in a part of the country that floods and this is a time when the community pulls together to help others.

My book Rethinking Retirement For Positive Ageing was written to encourage people to take some time to reflect on their life and what is important, and to make some conscious choices.

It can be easy to continue to work to 65, 70, 80 … and if you have a job that is meaningful to you and gives you satisfaction that is wonderful.

Bu not everyone experiences work in this way.

This is not just people in manual and unfulfilling work but professionals with good careers who were never fulfilled. They followed a path without thinking what was important to them. Not helped when you have parents and other significant people who saw work as something to endure – if your parents didn’t enjoy their work, you may think that is normal.

A wake-up call can be as retirement looms closer, or at least the option of it.

And a time to do retirement your way.

  • If you love your job you can continue.
  • But if you don’t you can think about what you do want.
  • And it could be to retrain or to take on a job that is more about satisfaction and less about money.

It could be a more balanced life with paid and unpaid activity and time to spend on the things that bring you joy and meaning. Such as me spending time in my wood.

I have many different activities within my book. This is one you may like to undertake.

For each you can mark on a 5-point scale or indeed you can write down your thoughts based on each question

  1. Strongly disagree         
  2. Disagree 
  3. Neutral   
  4. Agree      
  5. Strongly agree
  • I look forward to retirement as a pleasant time in life                                           
  • My life after retirement will be very similar to my life now                                    
  • Retirement will be a time to relax                                                   
  • Retirement will be the welcome beginning of a new stage of my life                 
  • Nothing will be able to replace work in my life                                                      
  • Retirement will free me from the demands of other people                                
  • Retirement will be a time to do what I want                                               
  • Most people are happy in retirement                                                         

None of these questions is forcing you to stop working, but it does help you to make some considered choices. Here are my answers

I look forward to retirement as a pleasant time in life       

>> Now I am in receipt of my pensions I have many more options and I no longer need to prioritise income. I can make choices based on what I will enjoy, gain satisfaction from and make choices that will help me to develop and grow.

My life after retirement will be very similar to my life now           

>> My life changed once I started receiving my pension. My life is more balanced and I feel much more fulfilled. I also now spend more time listening to other people. I want to hear their stories.

Retirement will be a time to relax        

>> Depends what you mean by relax, I’m not taking things easy but I am spending more time out in nature and being more active. I’m not sat at home watching day time TV!

Retirement will be the welcome beginning of a new stage of my life

>> It was the decision to end my marriage, and a year later to complete a vision quest that was the transition to my new stage of life. I am a very different person than before and much happier with the person I am.

Nothing will be able to replace work in my life

>> This depends on what you mean by work. I certainly want to continue to develop and grow, but it doesn’t have to involve working for an organisation. I love the flexibility of my life.          

Retirement will free me from the demands of other people

>> If I’d been in a salaried job with colleagues and customers, I’d probably be saying yes to this. It’s very different for me, having been self employed for over 25 years with much work involved writing alone from home.

Retirement will be a time to do what I want

>> It is – I am creating a life that suits me and I’m fortunate to be able to do things that I want. I can see the challenge if you are living with a partner who has a very different view of retirement to you. There are many couples where one person wants to travel and do new things and the other wants to take things easy. Will you be happy to do more things on your own.

Most people are happy in retirement

>>They are. The research backs this up.

If you are considering retirement, I’d be happy to work with you, or within your organisation on the retirement transition and how to create a later life full of joy and meaning.

If you have bought and read my book, I’d love you to post a review on Amazon. That means a lot. To me and to other people considering buying the book.

Dr Denise Taylor has been involved in retirement planning for almost 40 years. At 64 she gained her doctorate having researched how people find meaning in life after full-time work. To share this widely her latest book – Rethinking Retirement for Positive Ageing is now on sale, published by Routledge. Dr Denise is a Chartered Psychologist, and also a wilderness rites of passage guide combining her interest in transitions and ritual with a love of nature. Beyond her work she gains great fulfilment through owning a private wood.