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    10 Tips on How to Prepare and Plan for Retirement

    Retirement is a major life transition. It’s best to be as prepared as you can be well in advance, to make the transition less jarring and as smooth as possible. By planning how we’re going to spend our retirement, we also give ourselves the opportunity to make the most of our golden years. Here are 10 pointers for making these years the best of your life.

    1.       Start Planning as Far Out as Possible

    Most of us have a long-term view of when we want to stop. How we define stopping will change over time. Are we going to literally go from full time work to not doing anything or are we going to go through a transition process?

    2.       Get Good Professional Advice

    The types of professional advisors you want to be connecting with are, in no particular order and not limited to:

    • Independent financial advisor, someone who will help you understand the point at which it is appropriate for you to stop earning. For some people that could be way, way into the future; for others it could be very close. If you don’t understand your financial position you can’t assess your options.
    • Accountant, someone who helps you to understand tax and liabilities. They’ll advise you on tax related pensions, planning and all relevant topics.
    • Medical professional.  For whatever reasons you may be supremely fit or you may have been under medical direction for some time. You need to listen to that advice to sustain your healthy life and work style of choice.
    • Career advisor or close friend, somebody who helps you to recognise your assets and wisdom and what you could choose to do.

    3.       Consult with Your Life Partner

    Consider your partner and your shared approach to preparing for retirement. Whether you have been involved in a long relationship or your partnership is younger than that, your normal life has probably been quite different to the retirement life you are going to have. One of the things that’s so easy to fall into is the trap of believing that what I want is the same as what they want. The earlier you can broach this subject and talk in philosophical and value terms before talking about practicalities, the better.

    4.       Be in Charge of Your Career

    You do not want to be taken by surprise. Maybe you’ve worked for a company for many years and you have an expectation of longevity. Perhaps you have a different type of working arrangement that may just come to an end, perhaps a project with a client. Or maybe it’s a health issue that brings you up short. Dealing with your health, fitness and nutrition is one thing, dealing with the no-surprise approach to when you wish to finish is another.

    5.       Decide on Your Glide Path

    Some people are very happy with the idea that they will go from full-on driving along in fifth gear to coming to a complete stop on the Friday night of the week you retire. For many people, on the other hand, that is a nightmare scenario. If you’re one of the latter you want to think about how you can time your exit over perhaps a long period of years, changing your contribution in your professional work, reducing the amount of time you are present so that you are taking control of something that brings you to an end point of something that satisfies you entirely.

    6.       Keep Active

    After you retire, you’ll still have plenty of years to fill. Even if you retire at a normal retirement age of mid-sixties there’s a lot of life ahead of you. So what is it you are actually going to do? What you don’t want to do is to stop and then find yourself withering on the vine of your latter years. It’s important to keep yourself active physically and to keep yourself active and curious mentally. What do you want to be doing with your time? Reading? Learning? Returning to college? Contributing professionally to a different field such as a charity or your community? There are lots of different avenues to consider.

    7.       Spend Time on Your Hobbies

    If you’re lucky you will have had hobbies that would have intrigued you for years. You can now look forward to the additional time you have to deepen your interest and activity in this space. Maybe, like many people who have pursued a hard and long professional career, you’ve not had much time for hobbies. Retirement is a real opportunity to do something new and to open yourself up to new learning and activities. It’s never too late to get a hobby.

    8.       Travel

    Practically everyone you meet who is heading towards retirement talks about how excited they are about traveling. It could be to see long lost friends and family in different parts of the world. It could be to fulfil a long held desire to do something adventurous such as sailing or visiting ancient ruins. It could be to just learn more about your own county – you live there but you’ve never really visited all the beautiful churches or pubs or whatever.

    9.       Reconnect with Family

    We’re talking about not so much nuclear family as extended family. Many of us become more interested in our genealogy as we grow older. You also have the chance to contribute to your living family. You now have more time and maybe you have the energy to help out relatives who need care and attention.

    10.   Make Time for Yourself

    One of the great luxuries that many people look forward to when they prepare and plan for retirement is just having time. Nobody is rushing you to be at a meeting, to catch that train or plane. There are lots of things to fill our time but it might be nice just to take the time to get up and go for a swim every morning. If you want to take the dog for a walk when you want, you can. There’s freedom inherent in retirement. We need to make sure we prepare ourselves to be able to appreciate and value this freedom and time.

    See our ebook Moving into Retirement for more ideas on planning for a great retirement.

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