Surviving retirement – re-invent yourself

As the cold of mid-winter grips our town and tourists disappear from the scene, it is a good time to reflect on the impact that seasonal trends have on what is a holiday and retirement destination for many.

Surviving RetirementWe constantly hear conversations about the economic state of the town, province and country, and the financial challenges many business owners and retirees are facing at this time, yet they fail to realise that they themselves are a potential solution to some of these challenges.

Retirees in particular may have a source of income at their fingertips, yet either fail to identify it, or are unsure how to take the first steps into the unknown. The one factor that has changed worldwide is that retirees may no longer be in their late 60s and beyond, and deemed by large sections of society to have reached their sell-by date.

The South African political scene over the past 25 years has had such an impact on the careers of the baby boomer generation  (between 55 and 75 years of age) that there are many ‘pensioners’ in their mid-fifties to mid-sixties who find themselves excluded from employment opportunities, yet are not financially placed to spend years in the unemployment wilderness. South Africans have never been the best ‘savers for a rainy day’ and only a small percentage of the population is financially secure on reaching the ‘official’ retirement age.

The key to taking the reins and changing the situation for oneself is to start a process of ‘re-invention’, a metamorphosis which many may resist or avoid, for fear of the unknown. Nevertheless, it could be the source of more than just additional income, but also one of new challenges, social interactions and an unexpected new spark in your life.

The place to start is to identify all the skills and talents you have that could open doors for you. These could range from creative to financial, even to culinary, or you may have a community orientation where your life or work experience could afford you the base from which to launch your new-found persona. You may have hidden talents which could become a source of income if nurtured, and could trigger a new kind of satisfaction and excitement in your life.

Begin by looking at hobbies that you are particularly skilled at, or ideas you have had an interest in exploring, but never pursued. Don’t ignore the career skills you may have developed and used over the decades, as they may still be of value to others. You just need to identify the need and get the message out. Create a platform either via social media or some other method of communication and let the world out there know what you are capable of.

Focus on those attributes which you may never have considered revenue-generating options but could, in fact, be just that. Avoid self-induced objections, like “so many others are doing that”, as you cannot be the judge of whether they are as good or as creative or as talented as you are. One thing to remember is that in a town like this, social media and, to a lesser extent, print media, are what drive everyday communication amongst residents and businesses, and, like it or not, they are as much a reality of life as is the cell phone.

I am constantly amused by how many people of an advanced age have resisted embracing technology, yet have taken to smart phones with such enthusiasm that they themselves (and their offspring) find it difficult to believe how adept they have become. Yes, it may take you out of your comfort zone for a while but that is often necessary, to clear the head and consider what a life shift could do for you. Any small change could be a form of re-invention and if you can adapt to the world of technology then you can surely adapt to a world where you use your hobbies, educational and creative talents to your own and others’ advantage.

To Retire does not mean To Expire. On the contrary, it may just be the impetus you need to usher in an exciting new phase of your life that could enhance everything, from your social and financial well-being, to your lifestyle and outlook on life. Take a good look at all your strengths and work them to your advantage.