There was a day, not so long ago, when many people’s lives fell neatly into three distinct stages- they were educated, embarked upon a career and then retired.
The date at which people chose to retire was usually in line with their state retirement age, entailing 60 for women and 65 for men. This literally meant clearing your desk or your workbench on your 60th or 65th birthday, and facing a work-free future.
Sounds attractive having a ‘work free’ future, doesn’t it?
When I was in my 20s I worked in an engineering workshop, a time when you had to retire on your 65 birthday.
Two engineering tradesmen who work in the shop were coming up to their retirement age. One loved his job, but also loved his hobby and passion for building model railways and renovating the local windmill. The other also liked his job but also loved running the work-site football pools syndicate (made up of several hundred members).
After their retirement, the modeller and renovator continued to live a healthy and active life for several more years. The pools man suffered a serious debilitating stroke within 12 months of his retirement.
Was this just the luck of the draw or an outcome linked to lifestyle and planning? One just shifted his work focus to his hobby and passion, the other had nothing tangible outside his place of work – yet he had a ‘work free’ future.
Stories of sudden physical and mental deterioration, after retirement were not uncommon in those days.
When you think about it, from an early age you have been conditioned (both mentally and physically) to live in an industrial society, where work took priority of all other aspects of life. To suddenly break this routine cycle of working life, dominated by the clock, to a routine where the habits and the clock are no longer required must have a major impact, not only on the body and mental processes, but also on the soul.
Today’s changes in the retirement legislation (particularly raising the age of retirement) has meant that you are no longer required to retire at some predetermined date instead there is flexibility and choice. Today more seniors remain in work rather than retiring.
Nowadays, it is far more common for older employees to opt for reduced hours instead of the abrupt end of work scenario experienced by employees in previous decades. Today a more considered approach to retirement is taken. Some retirees adopt the process of gradually reducing the number of hours worked, which usually starts in people’s 50 s and can run into their 70s.
With the advent of the new pension rules launched in 2015, more people than ever before have alternatives. They can retire as early as 55 and take their pension but still remain in work, or even pursue a new career.
Today, many businesses more than ever before acknowledge that older workers have valuable skills and have an important role to play in upskilling younger employees. With those nearing retirement often wanting to remain physically and mentally active, remaining in employment can produce income to supplement their pension or offer a stimulating outside interest.
What is clear is that it’s important to plan and save for retirement as early as possible in your working life. That route when the time nears, the options of retiring, working portion day, changing career or doing voluntary work are all accessible.
Whatever you do I would strongly advise anyone who is, or is close to retirement (By all means have a break and perhaps an extended holiday), do not stop working, either for payment or just for pleasure. It is good for your soul and should extend your life.
I am nearly 70 years old and while I retired from my previous career as a university lecturer, I made a conscious decision to embark on a new career, to set up an online business – my continuing work.