My wife and I recently spent 5 weeks travelling through North Western Queensland and the Gulf Country. Not surprisingly, we met a lot of Grey Nomads who were spending winter caravanning around North Qld. We had the opportunity to talk to this diverse group of over 60s and it was somewhat disappointing to discover that many of them had no real plans for what they would be doing with their lives once the long caravanning adventure was over.
Certainly a few nomads told the story that they had retired earlier but had got bored and ended up going back to work. This trip was part of their second attempt at retiring.
While it’s rarely considered, the current baby boomers are the first generation in the history of mankind where most of the people who retire have another 20 plus years to live. That’s about one quarter of a lifetime! How we spend all this extra time is both a challenge and an opportunity.
It’s interesting to consider that the first three quarters of our life is generally fairly well planned. Considerable effort is generally devoted to organising our education and most people put some serious thought into their careers. However, when it comes to our retirement, the only planning that many of us do relates to our finances. Very little thought is given to how to make the next 20 years interesting and fun.
Sure the first 12 months is easy. There’s the big caravan trip and/or the overseas tour followed by relaxing and enjoying our favourite hobbies and sports. It’s what happens after this initial period that is going to determine whether you have an interesting and productive life or whether you’re looking at combatting boredom and leading an aimless existence.
The 20 years we have after leaving full time work can be some of the best years of our lives – if we use this time well. However, like anything worthwhile, it requires some effort and planning. The key to a successful life in some form of retirement is to stay involved with life and your community. Many of the happiest 70 year olds I know leave busy, active and challenging lives and are making real contributions to their communities.