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MEDIA RELEASE. Anyone thinking about retirement in the next 10 years needs to start planning for what life after work will look like for them, and not just the financial aspects, says Vincent O’Neill, director of private wealth at Stanford Brown.

“While having a healthy superannuation balance is important for a comfortable retirement, it’s not the only consideration for making sure the retirement years are positive and rewarding.

“Unfortunately, people tend to focus solely on the financial side of their retirement planning and neglect the lifestyle considerations.

“Retirement can mean very different things to different people, and we encourage our clients who are contemplating life after full time work to spend time envisioning and planning their future years, from all perspectives.

“Going “cold turkey” into retirement is never a good idea, and we often see people struggling with the first few years of retirement because they haven’t spent enough time thinking about what they want their lifestyle to look like, well before they retire.”

Mr O’Neill says in the past a common way for people to transition into retirement was to take on one or two board positions, but he is increasingly advising clients to think carefully before treading this path.

“Taking on a board position can be a good way for people to ease out of full time work but still utilise their skills and knowledge and stay involved in the corporate world, without the five day a week stress of full time work.

“However, the responsibilities for board directors are significant and there are legal liabilities to consider. People should not embark on this path without fully understanding the role and completing carful due diligence on the organisation.”

In light of this, Mr O’Neill says it is more important than ever for people to ask themselves what they are retiring TO, not just focus on what they are retiring FROM.

“When people think about retirement, the focus is on broad themes of ‘travel’, ‘relaxation’, ‘family’, ‘golf’ – whereas little thought may have been given toward what retirement looks like on a daily basis. This can lead to a lack of direction, a lot of time in front of the TV and in many cases periods of disenchantment.

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“For couples, planning the daily or weekly activities in advance of retirement is extremely important, to ensure they are both on the same page. Often differences in each individual’s expectation of the future retirement years can lead to a difficult adjustment period.

“We have found that senior executives can find the transition into retirement more challenging. This is often because their status and social life is built around their work, and that they are less connected externally with longer standing social networks.”

Mr O’Neill says perhaps the biggest challenge for people is learning that their job is not who they are.

“Anyone who defines themselves by their work, profession, or stature will find retirement to be a big challenge.

“The secret is to identify where they funnel their energy now, and what kinds of things keep them mentally active. Busy retirees tend to be the happiest when they are doing things they enjoy,” he says.

Stanford Brown provides intelligent financial advice solutions during all stages of life to ensure our clients live a truly great life.