Creating a work/life balance as you transition into retirement

Many of us spend our working lives trying to find that delicate balance between career and private life – juggling work responsibilities with those of our families. But what happens when we start to transition in to retirement, and we suddenly find ourselves in a new routine?

The change to retirement can be a daunting experience. While the thought of spending hours in the garden or taking time to pursue a hobby might sound like bliss, the reality is that transitioning to retirement, or semi-retirement, can throw the daily routine you’ve used for decades out of whack. This is especially true if you’re used to spending long hours in the office, or working on large-scale projects and you might question where or what is most important to now dedicate your time to. Apia Good Life spoke to Diane Vucci, who recently became semi-retired, about how she planned for the next phase of her life.

Making a plan

It’s normal to feel a bit lost. Being a part of the workforce makes us feel productive, valued, and allows us to see others every day in a social setting. This means it’s not uncommon for those who are transitioning into retirement to lose a sense of self and purpose. That’s why it’s important to plan for this new, exciting phase so that you can live your best, retired life. Here are some tips.

Cut back on work gradually

If you have the option, start by gradually reducing your work days over time, or consider adopting a more flexible approach by contracting or freelancing a few days a week. This will give you time to adjust to a different routine and when you do eventually leave the work place it might seem less jarring. “Having worked in events over the last 15 years, I was used to spending fairly long hours at the office and in venues until late at night,” says Diane. “While I enjoyed my job, it was beginning to take a toll and so when I reached the age of 60 I decided to take the opportunity to not only cut down to working three days a week, but also to take a change in career. I moved in to HR, which is an area I’d worked in during my early 20s. It’s a much slower pace and I’m spending more time with my family and grandchildren, which has been fantastic”.

Think about your daily activities

Being free from the shackles of your alarm and the daily commute can be liberating, but you might find yourself at a loose end if you don’t find new ways to fill your time. Think about whether you might like to re-educate yourself by going back to university or by taking a short course to develop a new skill. Volunteering is also a great way to use your time productively and there is an abundance of different organisations you can get involved with, from community gardening to helping injured wildlife.

Or like Diane, you could consider becoming your own boss and working for a company that lets you set your own hours. “I’ve always been interested in skin care and cosmetics and so when a friend told me that she’d started working as a consultant for an organic skin care brand, I jumped at the chance of doing the same. I get to choose how many hours a week I spend working, it’s given me the ability to build my own little business and it’s boosted my income.

“It’s also given me the chance to meet new people and I’m learning new skills like managing my own Facebook business page.”

Stay connected

It can be an emotional time when you transition to retirement and many people feel as though they are losing friends and connections. Plan to meet friends and family for a catch-up and make it a part of your weekly routine. If you’re looking to expand your social group and make new friends, take up a new activity that allows you to connect with like-minded people – this could even be an exercise class, which will keep you physically active too.

Get your finances in check

You know those budgeting skills you’ve honed during your career? They’re really valuable now, more than ever, especially if you don’t have a regular pay check to rely on.

 “While I’m pretty good at budgeting my money, when I sat down to look at my spending, I was actually really surprised where some of my money was going without realising it,” says Diane. “So I used an online tracker to help me better manage how and where I was spending money. This has been especially helpful during the quieter times of my skin care business.”

Remember that just because you’re retiring doesn’t mean your life has to feel less meaningful or unfulfilled – it’s a fantastic time to figure out what drives you, what’s interesting to you, and an opportunity to learn new things and take on new challenges!

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