Why age doesn’t matter – Part 1

Is sixty the new middle-age benchmark? For years we worried about reaching our fortieth birthday and then the big ‘Five-O’ – our fiftieth, threatened us. Now the media is frequently telling us that we have a lifetime to look forward to when we retire from the day job. Are they right?

Whether it is early retirement at fifty-five (or even before) or state pension retirement age, those of us still here, can expect a considerable life span extension after finishing work. A period of years which could actually exceed the time we spent working!

Things have changed (thankfully for the better). Somewhere in the dim and distant past of the 1970s local authority pensions’ world, there was a statistic being bandied about the average life expectancy of a teacher, who retired at sixty-five, being eighteen months. Now we see year-on-year life expectancy forecast figures continuing to go up and up – twenty to twenty-five years of life in retirement can now be anticipated by many of us, rather than hoped for.

The potential of a long post-retirement life is with us and later life planning should be an essential activity for us. However, our focus on planning for later life is more often than not driven and dominated by financial considerations, not least because there is growing concern about our ability to afford time off from work. We need to think much more broadly – this is holistic life planning and is more about us and what we want to do for a quality life.

The definition of your ‘retirement’ could actually be switched to your ‘new career’ (in retirement). There’s even some connection to the dictionary definition of the word:

‘career – a field of employment in which one expects to spend a significant part of one’s working life’.

In retirement, being busy is as crucial as at any other stage of your ‘career’. Consider yourself as being employed in your retirement and working at your choice, your pace. A career in working life is also associated with advancement – learning and moving on – what’s wrong with that as a way of being in retirement?

Think about opportunities, wishes and choices in your planning. Engaging in the planning process may be more important than the results – this is a time for you to explore opportunities, look at what’s on offer and to set your life agenda and make plans!

In Part 2 of our ‘Why age doesn’t matter’ mini-series, we’ll look at some practical pointers for making sure your new ‘career’ gets off to a good start!