If you plan correctly, your retirement years may very well be your golden years. But if are financially and emotionally unprepared for them, they will feel somewhat tarnished.

There are a number of things to ask yourself as you leave the formal work sector: what benefits do I leave behind? What does my risk profile look like? How can I be accommodated in the 21 st Century workforce?

This article outlines how to equip yourself for the changes that lie ahead and how to manage the shift in your everyday pattern.

They’re knownas the “golden years”, when you step away from the formal workplace and into retirement. But for many, the gloss of a world of relaxation is tarnished by economic reality: there’s not enough money to be comfortable. The shift in the daily pattern is an enormous mindshift too. These 50+ years can be extremely stressful and the trick is to equip yourself with life skills and tools to make this new season a bountiful one on all fronts.

There are three main areas of risk to consider.

1. What you lose when you leave formal employment?

If you are planning retirement, have you considered the five things you will lose when you leave the workplace? These are gaps which will need to be filled to ensure a happy and fulfilled future.

Work has many benefits, apart from the obvious. It is often only in retirement that these benefits become highlighted, now we no longer have them. They now turn into “needs” that call for something else to replace them. There are the main ones:

  • Financial compensation: there is a sense of satisfaction in receiving our monthly payment. This can be replaced through a drawdown of our investments, but many people miss the feeling of actually earning their money. Finding ways to continue earning for a few more years can make a major difference to your long-term journey.
  • Time management: If anything, the full-time 8am-5pm work day gives structure to a day. But it doesn’t leave much time for anything else. The more flexible 21st Century work situation means your office can be in a coffee shop or at home. This is something that the self- disciplined person can easily manage.

Barry has arranged with his company to phase in his retirement over a three-year period. This will work for his employer who will continue to gain value from his wisdom and years of experience and, at the same time, Barry will have time to discover new skills and activities.

  • Sense of purpose: We gain a work identity and affirmation at work. This brings meaning into our lives as we set about our daily tasks. Understanding our purpose and usefulness outside of the formal workplace is critical for success and adjustment in this next phase.

Sandra will take up a teaching role in China with a special needs school for a period of two years. She loves to travel and will now be able to combine that with a love she has for teaching .

  • Status: This can be defined as a combination of a sense of personal worth and identity derived from knowing who we are and what we do. Are you able to introduce yourself without mentioning “what you do”, rather saying “who you are”? This again is a personal journey of discovery that takes deep reflection.

Pete has always loved the bush and has decided he will use his experience from many years in the boardroom combined with his love of nature to teach groups of executives the synergy of how we as humans can learn from nature – a great example of taking your skills out the workplace into the more informal sector.

  • Socialisation: We form deep and lasting relationships with many within the workplace. This combination of connection, communication and interaction are a necessary part of being human. These need replacing when we leave the formal world of work.

Pam will use her network and travel skills to manage groups of international tourists visiting South Africa. She will combine visits to interesting tourist destinations with time working in rural communities.

  • Health is wealth: This is an important investment in our future. The longer we continue to exercise, have a healthy weight and eat wisely, the better our chances will be to continue to work and function well into our later years. Keep mentally fit by not letting your brain turn to stodge: learn new skills, embrace various activities and keep challenging yourself.

Tom is a tax consultant who loves helping people. He manages his retirement years by operating a small consultancy from home, working with a number of non-profit organisations that use his skills and hiking along trails throughout our beautiful country.

2. Take responsibility for your risk profile

Once you are your own boss you need to ensure that you have risk cover like dread disease, disability and income protection. Smoking will also increase your risk at this stage. It will be worth your while to include an integrated risk plan as part of your portfolio. Talk to your financial advisor to get qualified advice and to ensure that you can enjoy this new phase of life with peace of mind.

3. Ensure your skills are 21st Century-compliant

The workplace has changed dramatically in the past decade and will continue to do so. Those skills in demand may look very different from those over the past 20 years. Technology is driving change at a clipping pace. There may be a sense of the older person no longer being sought after by employers. However, a redress of skills and attitude could change this.

There are loads of wonderful opportunities to consider: coaching, teaching, online trading, design, and network marketing. There are so many organisations that need volunteers – the money may not be as much as you may have once made, but the benefits come in other forms of currency.

Newly retired couple, Thandi and Sam, have decided to join one of the network marketing companies that sell health products. Having worked in separate companies before, they are now looking forward to traveling this new path together. They have discovered that many of the attributes they lost in the formal workplace have been replaced in this environment. They have made new friends, learnt new skills, earn money and travel incentives through their sales and enjoy the fact that they make a difference in their customers’ lives through the products they sell.

Find work that you love which gives you a purpose every day. Not all work satisfaction can be measured in monetary terms. Once you have found a basket of both paying and non-paying activities that feed your soul, the risks that you may encounter in this life stage will diminish.