Over the last 7 months we have been working on a project to find ways to help keep older people connected as they enter into retirement. It culminated in the launch of The After Work Club a network to provide inspiration, connections, impetus and resources to redefine what life beyond your main career can hold. We talked to over 300 people to better understand the issues surrounding retirement and have gone through countless sessions where we analysed these insights and turned them into ideas for a sustainable social enterprise. Here are my 3 big learnings about retirement:
- It’s long. The idea of pottering about for a couple of years, going on a cruise and playing some golf no longer cuts it. We can live for over 30 years in “retirement”. That is far to much time to be sitting about drinking cups of tea and watching the world go by (no matter how much you like tea). People have a huge amount still to offer. Let’s not waste that.
- It should be an extended process of transition not a cliff edge. Running at full pelt, working 40+ hours a week, having an endlessly full diary and a to do list the length of your arm, then nothing. It doesn’t make sense. Sure it is like a lovely long holiday at first, then where does all that energy and skill go? Most people don’t just want to give up. Yes, eventually the majority might want to slow down a bit, have more time for other things than their job, but this process should happen over a number of years, or a the speed the individual wants. Employers and society need to change their attitudes towards older workers, be more flexible about work arrangements and recognise that they are huge assets to their businesses.
- It can be the start of an exciting new chapter. With the right attitude at support, retirement can be like being 19 again, with the world at your feet. Opportunities open up, you can do what you want to do, reprioritise, pursue lifelong dreams, take risks, meet new people, be your own boss.
For someone who retirement seems long, long way off this has been quite a journey of discovery. I hadn’t even considered it, let alone thought about what it might be like, whether I’d want to retire, what I’d lose, what I’d gain, what I might struggle with. Check out The After Work Clubto see what we created to try and tackle some of these issues.