Our 15-point checklist for the best possible life

To be able to enjoy retirement, you need to have planned ahead on the money front, and be covered on the risk front. But the many, many aspects of a happy life don’t change when you’re no longer working full-time.

The proposed story draws on the best thinking internationally to develop a 15-point checklist for a good life. It’s not limited to those who are nearing retirement: get this checklist under your belt now, whatever your age, and you’ll live your best life for longer.
Retirement challenges us in new ways. It is an invitation for growth, calling us to transform our beliefs about ourselves, reframe our perceptions of what we are all about, invigorate our thinking, refocus our feelings, clarify our decisions, and find purposeful action. If we wish to live the full measure of our unique giftedness, we need to heed the call of our dream and meet these challenges on all levels of life.

The journey from full-time work to full-time retirement will probably take many years. Some of us will, through choice, never retire completely. But along the way, all of us will find more of ourselves than we ever thought existed.

Retirement and adult development expert Dr Richard Johnson of Retirement Options in the US has developed a checklist of 15 things which determine the success of that journey. He is one of the world’s leading thinkers on the Baby Boomer generation currently heading towards the life stage called “retirement”. This list, he says, is a good way of telling where you may need to develop and work on your own personal scorecard.

1. Work reorientation, This refers to the degree to which you have emotionally distanced yourself from taking your personal identity from your work.Question:How do I disengage from my work/career and still maintain my sense of self?

2. Attitude towards retirement, which refers to your perception of what your next life stage will be like once you leave your current job. Question: Of what use will I be in my retirement years if I am not working?

3. Directedness, This looks at whether one’s attitudes and decisions are more directed, influenced or controlled by oneself (self directedness) or by others (other directedness). Question: How will I direct and influence the structure of my life without my full-time work?

4. Health perception, which is your subjective assessment and appraisal of the current condition of your total wellness, or lack of it. Question: How can I thrive, not merely survive in retirement?

5. Projected financial security and planning This is your subjective appraisal of how well you’ve planned for your financial security and your desired lifestyle during your retirement years. Question: How do I support myself and my family in a style to which they have become accustomed in my retirement years?

6. Current life satisfaction or the degree to which you believe you have achieved contentment and peace. Question: How can I remain happy going into and growing through my retirement lifestyle?

7. Projected life satisfaction This refers to the degree to which you look forward to personal success, achievement, contentment and peace in the future years of the retirement phase of life. Question: How can I develop and maintain hope in the future?

8. Life meaning, or the degree of purpose and significance that you find in your total life experience at the present time. Question: How can I find purpose and personal meaning in my retirement years?

9. Leisure interest, meaning the degree to which you expend personal energy in non-work pursuits, the purpose of which is to rest your body and/or stimulate your mind. Question: How can I find the means to rest my body, stimulate my mind, and enrich myself in retirement?

10. Adaptability This refers to the degree of personal flexibility you can exercise at any given time in any given situation. How can I remain fully open to new growth and development in my retirement years?

11. Life stage satisfaction is the degree to which you live in the present and find your current life fulfilling, rather than “living in the past”. Question: How can I remain as fully alive in retirement as I did in previous stages?

12. Dependents This refers to the degree to which you feel your dependents, particularly your adult children or grandchildren and to some degree your aging parents, require your active and continued support. Question: How can I balance the needs and wants of those who depend upon me and maintain my own sense of internal harmony?

13. Family and marital issues refers to the sum total of compatibility, companionship, support and satisfaction derived from one’s marriage and one’s family. Question: How can I find a sustaining sense of connectedness in my retirement years with those closest to me?

14. Perception of age is your view of your ability (or lack of ability) to perform and achieve in relation to your age. Question: How do I grow in youthfulness as I advance in my maturity?

15. Replacement of work functions is the degree to which you have planned to replace, or project that you can replace the five functions of working: remuneration, time management, utility, status and socialisation. Question: How can I find personal growth replacements for the benefits I formerly received from work?
These fifteen areas can be dealt with in different ways
– You can work through the questions yourself and try and assess where you may need assistance;

– You can work with a life coach who can help you have some strong, honest conversations around the subjects; or

– You can also do the online profile assessment, and receive a report on your profile. This can then be used as a basis for conversations with a coach. The profile test can be done through Refirement Network (www.refirementnetwork.com/ ).

Navigating this journey may be one of the most important things you do for yourself, but one of the critical ingredients is your financial planning. Without the money to enable the journey, many of these questions will become irrelevant.

The other factor to always keep on the radar is the risk side of your life. For peace of mind, you should have adequate cover for medical, disability and dread disease.

Your retirement will be as unique as your fingerprint. Spend time ensuring that you address all of these questions and your final stage of life will be filled with adventure and purpose. The combination of a financial adviser and a life coach, together with some inner introspection, will ensure that your journey is a great success.