In the opening pages of our book The Next Step: Planning the road through Retirement” I commented on steps that we take through life and how these compare with the human contribution to creating a child. While I hope my explanation gave rise to a few chuckles, I do believe the similarities exist and should be seriously compared. Within each of these steps are smaller steps, which influence us while we complete each one.

Retirement, as a step in life, also contains sub-steps, and the subject of this post is simply one of them. Please consider the following, hypothetical situation:

Fred (Freda) sits in his/her verandah chair and, after considering their life situation, realises the following:

  • They have successfully severed all ties with their previous “working” life;
  • They have taken their “transfer” holiday and are now settled in their retirement, both physically and mentally. They have also taken there adjustment holiday. In fact, they are now done with the hustle and bustle of holidays for the foreseeable future;
  • They have a steady, but reduced, income, so there is no driving imperative to earn further money to relieve financial stress. Unless inflation becomes a matter of concern they can afford to live comfortably;
  • They live an active life and even volunteer to train the U10 rugby team at the grandsons school, or as a helper in the local food kitchen and they play their part by attending church, the club and other meetings from time to time;
  • They have been banned/escaped from under the wife’s feet and, while having been allocated chores, there is no longer any fun in evading them. Also, there is little fun in following up or chasing their spouse to do what they feel is important. It has all become too much of an effort;
  • The garage/kitchen/sewing room has been re-sorted and undertaking a further re-sort creates a nervous tic;
  • They do more than their duty where the grandchildren are concerned and love the little people dearly; and
  • The future has started to resemble the “same old, same old” and they feel it could well become that on to oblivion.

If this applies to or is relevant in, your life it would be true to say that “the Honeymoon is over”.

This time, when you realise that “the Honeymoon” is over, is very important. How you address this situation can have a large effect on how you will live your life in retirement. Even though you have, hopefully, already made a retirement and have already put that plan into action with success, the way in which you address this new position will determine how successful and fun-filled the rest of your life will be.

I suggest that, at this time, you dig out the plan you have already made for your retirement and examine how it matches the reality of your current situation. If it does and you remain happy and fulfilled in your personal situation then all you need to do is continue with your life and maximise your personal reward from it.

On the other hand (can I insert a “Darryn” here in memory of Naas Botha?!), there is likely to be at least some of you who still miss your old job and the way in which it fulfilled you and your needs especially those realised from companionship, a common purpose and reason to exist. For those people, I suggest the following:

  • If you have some special other and can discuss the matter with them do so once you have completed the other steps detailed in this list;
  • Acknowledge that the situation exists;
  • Accept that your life has changed and try to pin point the aspects of your old life that you really miss;
  • Rank them in importance to you; and
  • Think of ways in which you can duplicate these feelings in your current situation.

It is at this stage – when the honeymoon in your retirement is really over – that you need to examine your retirement plan and, by comparing reality with your pre-retirement lifestyle plan, establish how your plan needs to change so that you can resume getting the most out of your current life options, or how those options need to be changed to meet your current desires. Examination of your plan will:

  • Allow you to re-assess your original plan and identify weak and strong points that it contains;
  • Permit you to make changes to the original plan, in keeping with your current physical, mental and emotional position; and
  • Encourage you to continue measuring your progress.

Modifying your daily programme as you age is natural. Those things that are important seem to be changed over time and you find that, for example, the importance of always being immaculately attired gives way to becoming more comfortably so. Similarly, while the early morning jog, which we squeezed in between waking and work has turned into a walk with the dog, during which we interact with others on the road, and thereby ensure we remain up to date with local news.

The important step, at this stage of retirement, is to evaluate the retirement plan and compare it with reality. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How does my lifestyle suit my needs and desires?
  • What must I change and how will that change reflect in the rest of my life?
  • How will a revised plan affect my financial position? What steps must I take to protect my wealth, particularly my capital?
  • What new opportunities have arisen and what, if anything, do I want to do about them? How would taking advantage of them affect my current lifestyle and would this be acceptable?

Finally, always remember that:

  • It is better to have a glass half full than one that is half empty,
  • The power of laughter is there to rescue and repair your essence; and
  • Satisfaction and happiness are normally found outside yourself so follow them there – outside yourself.

If you are one of those who has not yet made the effort to plan the life you want to live in retirement, I suggest you purchase a copy of our book and start with that exercise first. The book is titled “The Next Step: Planning the road through Retirement” by Andrew Blaine and Barry Smith and is available from the authors at either andrew@the-next-step.co.za or barry@the-next-step.co.za. You will have great fun, I assure you.