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The five best ways to prepare for your retirement

Over the next five years, more than 670,000 Australians intend to retire, taking the total to almost five million retirees, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). A check of how often the word ‘retirement’ is searched for on Google over the past 10 years has shown a recent and sustained spike.

We hear a lot about how to build money for your retirement and how much you will need, but there is nowhere near as much discussion about how to manage your retirement.

What will you do on your first day? In the second week? At the end of the first quarter? The end of the first year? These are all milestones that can bring great joy – or despair. I hear many stories of people retiring and becoming bored, so bored. Others say they are busier than ever before, with fitness, family, travel and more.

However, some 20% of retirees feel unfulfilled and 20% say they have no purpose, according to research by Henry Jones last year. What will you do? What are you going to focus on next? And how will you prepare for it? And this is not about playing more golf to improve your handicap.

The first thing about preparing for retirement is to have a discussion with your family, the people you will live with. As that person or those people will soon have you around the house more than they ever have before, will they welcome that change or will you disrupt their own routine?

Where will you find your new value? The importance of self-worth

Another key aspect of retiring is recognising that your work, your contribution, your colleagues, have (generally overall) provided you with a sense of self-esteem, or self-worth, for decades. Self-esteem is a major human need, according to US psychologist Abraham Maslow’s famous Hierarchy of Needs. It follows others of safety and security, and community and connection, which can also suffer if you retire alone.

Many retirees tell me that once they retired, they lost their sense of self-worth that they achieved from the work that they did. “All of a sudden that was gone,” said one. No one even asked them for advice any more, never mind giving them something important to do. This loss of identify and failure to craft a new one can be a big shock for many retirees, especially male retirees. It even has a name: ‘Relevance Deprivation Syndrome’.

Giving back

One way to generate new self-worth is to determine ways to contribute your talents, skills, knowledge or unique gifts to others. It doesn’t matter if it is one person or millions. Giving back and helping people can provide a renewed sense of purpose.

Think beyond the traditional forms of giving back, such as volunteering or donating. It can be surprising how fulfilling it is to impact someone else’s life in a unique way, but ensure it will also stimulate you enough.

According to research, there are many benefits to living a purposeful life, including longevity and lower risk for diseases. Full-time work typically takes up to 40 or more hours per week. What are you going to do with that time when you retire? This time cannot be replaced by golf, boating, fishing. Minding grandchildren can help the family – and yourself – if you have them, while travel can provide a good distraction.

Having at least a rough outline of how you will spend your time is another key, non-financial consideration when preparing for retirement. Retirement can be a time to explore new interests, new passions, and a new purpose, even set new goals. But this can be scary, even overwhelming if this personal transformation is not your strength. Combating loneliness is a big deal and having people around you, outside of work, to do things with is also important, such as friends, family or people in your community.

One of the best ways to prepare for retirement is routine creation. A retirement coach can help with these challenges.

The five best ways to prepare for your retirement 

Structure helps your retirement plans, following these hints:

#1 Create a reliable retirement routine
#2 Find clarity around your retirement purpose
#3 Focus on both your physical and mental health
#4 Understand your unique retirement needs
#5 Consider a retirement coach

May you smoothly transition into the best next chapters of your life.

The adage of 'You have worked hard and saved diligently for your golden years. It is now finally time to take it slow and enjoy your life’ is of little comfort if you are not mentally ready for it.


Jon Glass is former chief investment officer at Media Super, and has worked at AMP and BT and today runs 64Plus, a company coaching people nearing retirement on what to expect and how to prepare, beyond the financial.


Dr David Arelette
October 26, 2023

I looked into the abys of retirement, indeed what do you do after the six months of delayed repairs? I had invested in my PhD at 52, these are cost free for Australian citizens (the work and passion demand more than covers the free part) and this week at 72 I have delivered three Masters degree subjects at two Universities (for $1300 incl super) and matched wits with many clever youngsters - never could master golf, walking is only for going to Dan Murphy and I need the money to replace my Mustang with the new model in February - retirement is for old people.

Manoj Kumar
October 24, 2023

I have been self employed since 1995 - 28 years - in a profession which I enjoy immensely.

Today I employ 28 people. Mentoring them and contributing to the nations GDP. I could have retired financially in 2005 and followed the FIRE movement ( Financially independent Retire Early).

Another way to look at it is that the business is able to rent / mortgage of 28 people - pay their tax on income and contribute 12% of their income for their retirement PLUS help the government to pay 28 retired couples by paying income tax on profits

Randy Irvine
October 20, 2023

After working 50yrs of physical work I was ready to retire this year at 65. Now I have to wait till 67 to receive the age pension, if I make it. My body is suffering. Thanks for nothing Mathias Cormann...

peter care
October 21, 2023

After 50 years it’s disappointing you don’t have enough savings snd investments to look after those last 2 years. In my case I took my annual leave and long service leave before I retired rather than taking a lump sum at retirement. This way I left a few months earlier and is as efficient tax wise, I also got good advice to salary sacrifice into super from age 50. Best thing I did.

The best advice I can give is if you have kids get them involved in investing as early as possible and don’t be frightened to pay for good advice.

Joe jelic
October 20, 2023

I started work at age 15 doing 3 jobs till age 31 then 1 job working many hours including weekends,public holidays and nights,I am 59 now and retired and just spent 10 months in Europe,who wants to work if I can utilise my time playing golf,swimming,cycling,walking along the beach,fishing,meeting friends for lunch,and travelling,stuff work,there’s more to life than is great,

Mylene Papin
October 20, 2023

Office workers and white collar ones want to keep working of course. Their jobs are not physical. But for the ground, hospitality workers, always on their feet, of course we want to retire sooner than later. Are you kidding? Loads of overworked people like me, want to retire early or on time, no sweat. But unlike the rest of you, mostly we are not financially prepared. Not everyone wants to keep on working. There's going to work and enjoy the work and then there's going to work because you have to. I'm retired and things couldn't be sweeter and that's how it should be after you been on your feet all your working life.

peter care
October 21, 2023

It’s good you are reading first links. May I suggest if you have children get them involved in investing as soon as possible.
I come from a working class family and I got good advice to start salary sacrificing into super as soon as I turned 50. Best thing I did. (I had already paid off my mortgage).

October 24, 2023

I don't think you need to wait until 50 to Salary Sacrifice. I started when I was 30, whilst it was only $20 a fortnight it has grown. Everytime I received a pay rise I increased my Salary Sacrifice, that way I didn't just spend it. Just turned 57 and will starting long service leave next year (Sept 2024) and not returing :)

Mylene Papin
October 25, 2023

I read everything and anything, just like to stay current and that's what has helped me to get ahead. I also did salary sacrifice and before tax stuff to help with tax minimisation. Yes, one should start early thinking and getting onto the financial side of life. Not enough people think they can, which is a shame. Not being educated is no excuse, only you can change that. That's what I did. This kind of education should start at school(Scott Pape is doing good there). I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the next generation.

Richard Knopf
October 20, 2023

Have a read of the Federal Governments' latest precis of the Australian economy......if there ever was a depiction of the "Road to Recession & Beyond" this it...!
Somethings had better change....and soon.

October 20, 2023

There seem to be 4 options for retirement : 1. A time to pursue interests that you already have pre-retiring; 2. Take the opportunity to develop new interests; 3. Combine options 1 & 2; 4. Sit around and do nothing and wish you hadn’t retired.
I thought I would adopt option 3 – I had a several interests (hobbies and pursuits) all though my life, playing music being an important one – but I have actually pursued option 2 and my time is so full that I cannot understand how I ever had time to go to work every day.
There doesn’t necessarily have to be some great purpose in what you choose to do – although it’s a bonus if there is - other than that it develops and sustains your interest and is satisfying to spend your time doing. The essence is that you now have the free choice for how you spend your time rather than work to some imposed program and purpose. It’s a great (and last !) opportunity – make the most of it.

Steve Kyne
October 20, 2023

Parkinson's Law (the idea that tasks expand to fill the time allotted) is absolutely true about retirement. I had four or five years of retirement (am currently in my second year of a new, completely accidental career), and I simply did not have time to scratch myself. But as Michael said, retirement is a very worthy aspiration. Embrace it.

Brian Gorman
October 19, 2023

Physical and Mental health, should always be number one priority.

Michael Forrest
October 19, 2023

It's sad that so many people are unable to come to terms with the change in life.
Retirement should be something we aspire too!
Besides the financial uncertainty there are so much great opportunities.
I am very surprised with so many peers and friends who see retirement as a big NO NO.
Time for them to enjoy every minute, read books, go walking, fishing or golf.
We obviously need people to go to a training / learning session to position themselves for thus stage of life.
It important that more people retire to make way for the new generation to take their work roles!


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