Retirement and retrenchment: A crossroads, not a dead end

Retirement and retrenchment are emotional and life-changing events, especially when not desired or expected. Being able to see these challenges as opportunities can motivate one to look at the alternatives available in a 21st century environment.

This is the time when looking to the past can possibly help us forge a new future. At age 50+ it may seem odd to go back to your childhood to look at what fuelled your passion then. But this could be exactly where you need to go reclaim your dreams. The world has a way of submerging our personal talents and passions so deep that we may now have to do a fair amount of soul-searching to uncover what is there. But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible…

  • Bonnie, an IT technician, had always wanted to write a novel. Now retrenched, she has signed up for a 10-week writing course.
  • James worked as an accountant for Transnet. As a boy he loved trains, and as a high school pupil he discovered a love of history. Soon to retire he hopes to qualify as a tour guide and lead historic walking trips as well as work on the steam train route every Friday in Cullinan.

Each of us needs to assess for ourselves whether we want – or need – to continue working in some form after their official retirement age. Not, however, that statistically speaking, those who continue to live active working lives after retirement age stay healthier for longer. A longer working life also has a positive financial effect as you are able to delay the time at which you need to depend on your pension and retirement benefits. This allows them to last longer down the line. It is also critical at this crossroads to preserve whatever savings you have. A conversation with your financial adviser will help you to ensure clarity.

Option outlook

Before making a choice you will need to decide:

  • Whether you want to use your existing skills or branch out
  • Do you want to pursue a dream or passion, or fill an immediate need?
  • Do you want to stay close to your home and family or travel the world?
  • How much time and involvement do you want in your family’s life?
  • And, of course, how much money do you need?

Your answers will help you decide your priorities and, armed with these guidelines, you will be better able to come to a decision to help you move forward.

You will also need to consider:

  • The amount of time you would like to devote to work.
  • The structure and variety of your ideal work arrangement.
  • Your economic reality and the role that finances need to play in your life.
  • The degree of challenge and difficulty you are willing to take on.
  • The level of responsibility you are willing to take on.
  • The risk cover you will still need during.

Ways of working

There are loads alternatives to look at when considering where and how you want to work in your retirement years:

  • Continue working in your field of experience, possibly negotiating better terms of employment such as flexi time, part-time or contract options.
  • Branch out into a new field, which might require additional studying in order to qualify for new roles.
  • Boldly start your own business. This could be risky, but rewarding. Ensure you do not dig too deep into your investments to do this as you do not have time on your side to make back the possible losses. It would be wise to work closely with your financial adviser.
  • Leave the corporate world and use your skills to add value to a non-profit or non-governmental organisation working for a cause that is close to your heart.
  • Volunteering and giving of your time, skills and experience freely in order to make a difference.

It is when we reach r crossroads in life that we are also given the gift of choice. We can choose to forge ahead with a positive attitude, to look at it as a chance to grasp at new opportunities and to mould a life of meaning and significance. What a bonus to be able to say at the end of a life well-lived: I am fully used up!