21 Jun 2018

Tips for transitioning to retirement

The word ‘retirement’ does not accurately reflect what happens next. Expect a series of transitions as you move away from fulltime employment towards more flexible work and leisure combinations. 

Instead of ending work at the official retirement age of 65 most mature agers are choosing to continue working in different ways. That might be part-time work, a compressed working week or chunks of project work allowing more time for other interests outside work.

‘Freedom to choose’ is how many describe this extended mid-life stage. We have more time for work and play than previous generations as we experience better health outcomes and longer life spans. 

Often mature agers express a desire for meaningful work and giving back – contributing valuable skills and experience to a not-for-profit organisation or volunteering for a local community group.

Senior entrepreneurs (aged 50 plus) are popping up in greater numbers than younger entrepreneurs (aged 30 or under) creating more job opportunities for workers of all ages. This may be pursuing a new business interest or spending more time on a hobby that can turn into a business venture.

Make no mistake. This extended mid-life transition takes time and requires resilience and perseverance.

For big life changes we go through a change process with a beginning, middle and end.

The beginning can be exciting if you are driving the change or stressful if the change has been thrust upon you. Being in the middle is arguably the toughest part when you have left one life stage behind and you have not yet found a new purpose. When you have found your new direction at the end of the process you can still feel a sense of loss for the career lifestyle and work friendships left behind.

Career transitions combine external and internal aspects. The internal side deals with reflection and self-assessment and the external side involves testing those assumptions in the real world.

Your ability to manage the transition is influenced by a few things – the situation, your attitudes and experiences, the support systems you have in place and your change readiness. 

What skills and experience do you have to deal with the changes you are facing?

Take the time to reflect on what the transition means to you and what you are leaving behind. Recall your successes and the strengths you bring to the next life stage.

We are all individual and respond to change in different ways. At one end of a continuum risk-taking individuals thrive on change – at the other end risk-averse individuals avoid change at all costs. Most of us sit on a continuum between the two. Understand your own risk profile.

Do you have the right support systems in place?

What support networks (friends and family) are available to you outside of work? If you have moved to a new location away from your support group you may need to reach out more. Join a local activity or interest group and learn new skills or consider volunteering as a way of meeting new people and building your local networks.  

What strategies do you have in your arsenal?

If you are feeling stuck this might be the time to make some changes. Ageist attitudes of some employers can be disheartening. 

Find ways to nurture yourself and be patient as the change transition could take some time. Small steps like seeking advice from a career adviser, increasing your exercise levels or taking up a new interest can have a ripple effect on your wellbeing.  

Here are some more tips for approaching the next stage of your work and life journey.Enrol in courses to stay up to date and abreast of new technology.

  • Explore flexible work options like a compressed working week, flexi-time, virtual working and / or phased retirement.
  • Attend networking events to meet new people and test new ideas.
  • Seek out employers who have a positive reputation for employing older workers.
  • Strengthen your online presence and update your CV to show potential employers what you have to offer.
  • Consider starting your own business or joining a franchise operation.
  • Volunteer to extend your networks and gain new experiences that can open new doors. 

This is an exciting opportunity to regain purpose and perspective for the next phase of your life. 

Going it alone can be tough. We are only a phonecall away if you would like some help with transitioning to retirement. 


Mary Somervell

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