When I'm 64, what should I do with the rest of my life?
Send me a postcard, drop me a line,
Stating point of view,
Indicate precisely what you mean to say,
Yours sincerely, wasting away.
Give me your answer, fill in a form,
Mine for evermore,
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four?
This verse from the famous Beatles song captures the youthful view of retirement, but in the 57 years since it was written it seems that 64-year olds are younger than they ever were. When our late Queen Elizabeth was born in 1926 the average life expectancy for a female at birth was 62 years, meaning that many people never reached age 64. A female born last year, 2022, can be expected to live to age 83, another 21 years of life. We are likely to be around for a lot longer than previous generations.
When the first UK State Pension scheme was introduced in 1909 it was paid to men reaching age 70, so most never survived long enough to receive it. It wasn't until 1928 that it became payable to everyone at age 65. By providing a basic living income to all, this new Government payment helped to create the concept of 'retirement', something which hadn't really featured in society before.
The idea of doing nothing in retirement was slow to catch on. Many people, having experienced a lifelong work ethic, were not keen to bring their jobs to an end and our current concept of retirement has developed slowly over the last century. It gathered momentum in the period after World War 2, as prosperity increased and the pensions industry became more established. Rising values of retirement pensions made it possible to live well, and having a period of leisure after years of work started to become an expectation among the public.
'Planning for retirement' is now an established concept, and for many people their goal in life is to work until their 60's, then retire and have a life of leisure. But for people who have experienced a life of achievement or a stimulating career, retirement can be a concept that is deeply unattractive.
I've recently been reading a remarkable book about the life and work of Steve Hardison, 'The Ultimate Coach', and among numerous anecdotes and vignettes about Steve is the story of Luna Viva Ananda. Luna approached Steve for guidance, and she told him that, despite having loved her 30-year career serving and helping people with debilitating mental illnesses as a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, still something was missing.
"I didn't think I was sharing everything I have to offer," she said. "I was sixty-four years old and my calling had not been fulfilled." The book goes on to describe how working with Steve helped Luna to decide how she was going to use the rest of her life to fulfil her purpose and have the greatest impact on the people around her in her remaining years.
I recall speaking to a room full of financial planners a few years ago. I asked how many of the practitioners present enjoyed their work so much that they could never imagine retiring from it? Many hands went up.
When I went on to ask those same practitioners how many of them described themselves as 'retirement planners', the same hands went up. "Isn't there a disconnect," I asked, "between your vision for your clients and your vision for yourselves?" By focusing exclusively on 'retirement planning', those advisers were not seeing the big picture.
There are, of course, many people who would love to retire sooner rather than later, and for whom a life of more leisure is hugely attractive. But my experience is that there are also very many people for whom the concept of 'retirement' is anathema, and who would love to be able to take their existing career, work or business to the next level in their remaining time on the planet. Others have no great desire to retire, but neither do they want to continue the work that has occupied them for the last few decades, and would love to create a new career, start a new venture, or learn a new skill that will give them a meaningful challenge and a reason to get up in the morning - a new and vibrant 'third age' in their lives.
The great thing about reaching this 'third age' is that, if you've planned ahead, money worries should be a thing of the past and you can focus on having a great life for its own sake. We especially enjoy working with people in this situation, and it's inspiring to witness what can be achieved by people as they move into the later part of their lives.
If you're like Luna Viva Ananda and you're seeking help in deciding what to do with the rest of your life, we can help. Get in touch with us and we'll arrange to have a conversation to get you on track using a proven process that has worked for our many clients over the years.
One thing is certain, and that is the benefit of having your own Plan for the future. Whatever your vision of 'retirement', your future is yours to create. We'd love to help you on your journey.
Andy Jervis CFP
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