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Retirement

Retirement planning can’t just be financial

By Grace Ormsby · September 12 2019
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egg
Retirement

Retirement planning can’t just be financial

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By Grace Ormsby · September 12 2019
Reading:
egg
Retirement

While we all look forward to the day we can clock off from work for good, retirement and all its perks can have a seriously detrimental effect on our wellbeing if we don’t plan ahead.

In recognition of R U OK? Day and how a conversation could change a life, nestegg chatted with SuperFriend CEO Margo Lydon about the importance of having a planned approach to retirement that’s not only financial but also focuses on an individual’s wellbeing, as well as how people can look after their own mental health and provide support to others.

Quite often in retirement, Ms Lydon noted that if somebody finishes work on a Friday and steps out of the workforce completely, they lose a sense of connectedness and belonging to that social connection with friends at work, and “they lose that purpose and meaning to get out of bed and go to work every day”.

She acknowledged the “honeymoon phase” where retirees don’t have to wake up to an alarm clock to get to work in the morning.

“And that’s delightful. But after a short period of time, that wears off, and people can sometimes lose that direction and purpose in their life, and when that happens, it will impact on their mental health, it will impact on their physical wellbeing as well.”

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This is why she flagged the importance of individuals preparing for their retirement.

Obviously, this involves financial preparation first and foremost, with Ms Lydon highlighting how “the superannuation funds are there to really support their members in preparing for retirement financially”.

But then, she emphasised the importance of soon-to-be retirees also thinking about the other areas of their life, inclusive of mental health and physical wellbeing, “because those are two other areas that usually [when] left unaddressed will deteriorate”.

For Ms Lydon, that comes down to “what am I going to do during the day?”

“Thinking about: do you really want to look after the grandkids all the time, or do you really want to play golf five times a week or are you really going to be able to travel the world or go fishing every day?”

The CEO flagged the importance of looking at what someone’s had their heart set on for their retirement, and how realistic such an option actually is.

She said that’s why those nearing retirement age need to plan for how they actually will spend their time.

“How do you keep yourself physically active? How do you connect socially and perhaps create new social networks?” she reflected on.

Querying “what are the wonderful ways that you can engage your brain and learn and be socially active?” Ms Lydon offered up suggestions, including volunteering, getting involved in a local community group, and even looking at going back to university and studying again.

Another important aspect of retirement for Ms Lydon is that “when we make choices in our lives, and it’s our choice to retire, and we choose the dates or the transition or the plan – that’s a very empowering [thing]”.

Considering it as “very much an individual owning that decision”, Ms Lydon called it a much better experience for most humans than if something is forced upon us.

“We’re finding, certainly, when people are forced into retirement through a redundancy or a retrenchment of their role, an industry shut down or a loss of physical ability to be able to do a job, those types of forced changes on individuals can be a lot harder on their mental health and wellbeing and therefore really do require individuals to plan almost even more and have R U OK conversations.”

As well as meaningfully connecting with the people around us and starting a conversation with anyone who may be struggling with life, as is the purpose of R U OK? Day, the CEO added that it is important to “know yourself” to better protect against poor wellbeing.

“I think it’s knowing yourself, and looking at those early warning signs of sleep, nutrition, exercise, social connectedness, the things that matter to you – and are you still doing the things that you love to do.”

“Its really about us as individuals also taking our own responsibility for our own health and wellbeing – and particularly our mental health, and particularly at later stages of life where our body changes. We may also not move as quickly as we used to, we may not be able to do the sport that we used to love...”

Ms Lydon emphasised that individuals should ensure they are “really attuned” to themselves and reiterated the importance of conversations and connection.

“Having great conversations with your employer or with family and with friends about having the supports around you as your transitioning into retirement or into the later stages of life is really, really important.”

Worried about someone? R U OK? has developed four conversation steps to give an individual the skills and confidence to navigate a conversation.

1. Ask
2. Listen
3. Encourage action
4. Check in

“It is those conversations that can save lives,” Ms Lydon stated.

There’s a number of places an individual can seek help, she went on.

“There’s obviously an individuals GP – their medical practitioner is a really great place for them to go and get support and help.”

“There’s also a number of telephone helplines, such as Lifeline, BeyondBlue has a helpline,” the CEO continued.

“Theres a suicide callback service and theres a range of different ways that are not necessarily through telephones, theres text chats and online chats and those sorts of things as well... So sometimes people dont feel confident to pick up the phone and actually talk to somebody, but they are quite happy to text.”

“I think the other thing is to recognise the role of family and friends is really, really critical,” Ms Lydon offered.

A good friend or a good family member is not about being a psychologist, but is about “supporting and helping and listening” and can be incredibly beneficial, she said.

Looking for help or support?

Lifeline provides 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services via telephone 13 11 14, an online crisis support chat, and help resources at https://www.lifeline.org.au/

The Suicide Call Back Service is a free professional counselling service available 24/7 both via telephone 1300 659 467 and online at https://www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au/

Beyond Blue can be reached at 1300 22 4636 and provides a number of online resources at https://www.beyondblue.org.au/

Retirement planning can’t just be financial
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About the author

Grace is a journalist on Momentum Media's nestegg. She enjoys being able to provide easy to digest information and practical tips for Australians with regard to their wealth, as well as having a platform on which to engage leading experts and commentators and leverage their insight.

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About the author

Grace is a journalist on Momentum Media's nestegg. She enjoys being able to provide easy to digest information and practical tips for Australians with regard to their wealth, as well as having a platform on which to engage leading experts and commentators and leverage their insight.

Join The Nest Egg community

We Translate Complicated Financial Jargon Into Easy-To-Understand Information For Australians

Your email address will be shared with nestegg and subject to our Privacy Policy

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