Devising The Masterplan That Keeps On Evolving
Jim Green created his own retirement masterplan when he retired a few years ago. Now in his seventies he enjoys runs his own internet business. He is based in Glasgow.
Actualising your lifetime goals in retirement doesn’t just happen. You need a plan, a special plan: a masterplan. Some misguided optimists settle for the standard kit - jot down a few sketchy goals, cobble up a hobby or two, wrap it all up in a snazzy folder - and file it. Such a mundane plan will not suffice, if you are to ensure a happy and successful retirement. At the outset it can be as modest as a single sheet of A4, because it will grow and evolve in time, as you lay down new and essential parameters to guide you on your journey of enrichment in the third age. It will of course contain the usual nuts and bolts, but it will also include something of more intrinsic value. This masterplan will highlight your own personal philosophy on your retirement, how you will shape your activities and how you will actualise your goals in tandem with your aspirations. You will live, eat, and sleep with your masterplan for most of your retirement years. It will become your personal bible but, unlike the Bible, it won’t be written in tablets of stone; it will be forever changing, forever growing, forever evolving.
Getting your creative juices flowing
Make a start on your masterplan before you settle on a definitive list of preferred activities. It will get the creative juices flowing and keep your mind focused on the ultimate goal. Inspiration will surge to the top in your deliberations. Any plan, be it for survival, business expansion, or ensuring a rewarding retirement, calls for a high degree of introspection. As you progress, you will find yourself facing up to reality quite readily. It is a universal truth that when you start committing your thoughts to paper, the good, the bad, and the ugly come to light fairly quickly. This can prove unsettling at first, but you will rapidly discover that you are addressing negative factors with increasing confidence and vigour. Certain aspects will call for an immediate rethink, further research, or perhaps total rejection. Now is the time to find out and put matters right. This is what will make your masterplan a winner: examining, questioning, honing, and polishing all of the elements before you fix them firmly into place. As the late Napoleon Hill, self-help author and one of the most successful US insurance brokers of his time, famously said, ‘What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.’
Conceiving a plan
The plan you will conceive is your blueprint for a happy and successful retirement. Plans are great things. They show you where you are going, what to do, and how to do it when you get there. Make no mistake, though; you aren’t creating this plan just to get you started. It is going to be around for a long time, and you will want to review and update it regularly to take account of twists and turns along the way. That is the beauty of it. When you have a plan, you can legislate for change. Without one, you can’t; you will be like the explorer in the jungle without a map.
Creating a personal checklist
While no two plans are alike, they are all based on the same premise and have similarities in structure. You did some preparation in the previous chapter and, with these initial audit findings to hand, you are now ready to create a personal checklist that will identify specific elements and slot them into position. As an additional aid to execution, we will encapsulate the core findings in this book and once again ask for answers to pertinent questions as they affect your particular deliberations. Don’t be tempted to skip this exercise. Revisiting old ground will focus your attention on the core options before you shape the essential route map for third-age enrichment.
The keys to a happy and successful retirement
Understanding the general and specific keys to a happy and successful retirement is of prime importance. Interlacing specific keys with goals is of equal significance. There is little point in expanding your education, taking up part-time work, starting a business, doing voluntary work, or engaging in hobbies if all you are doing is filling in time. There must be a purpose to it. Identify the purpose and determine how it will add to the quality of your life in retirement.
- What do I really need to enjoy life in the third age?
- What will the future hold for me?
- Have I given sufficient attention to organising my finances?
- How can I diminish the disadvantages of retirement?
- Have I grasped the general keys to a happy and successful retirement?
- Do I appreciate the significance specific keys will play in my planning?
Refer back to Chapter 2 for refreshment.
Setting the goals for your new way of life
Setting your goals, and hence your plan of action, hinges upon how you decide to mix and match the activities inherent in the three little boxes of life. Don’t flounder, don’t leave goal-setting to someone else: make your own choices and stick with them.
- Are you aware of the prescribed steps and stairs to goal-setting?
- Can you clarify your objectives?
- Are you prepared to expand your education?
- Will you embrace new technology?
- Will you consider working part-time?
- Will you think about starting your own business?
- Can you pass on your knowledge?
- Will developing new hobbies add quality to your third-age years?
- Will you consider doing voluntary work?
- Do you want to travel and broaden your perspective?
- Can you instigate a personal fitness regime?
- Will you determine to cultivate your sense of humour?
- Are you a positive thinker?
Refer back to Chapter 3 for refreshment.
Learning something new
Don’t leave education behind in the second box as you enter the third. Take it with you and keep expanding it. The more you learn in retirement the more you will enhance your lifespan, because learning not only stretches the mind but it also refreshes every sinew in the body. Refuse to be numbered among those retirees who shy away from IT under the mistaken impression that mastering the beast will prove too difficult. Nothing could be further from the truth, so get cracking, join in, and add a new dimension to your experience of the third age.
- What do you know about education facilities in your community?
- Where can you find the largest e-learning network in the UK?
- How do you contact the learndirect national learning advice line?
- Is there a UK online centre near you?
- What do you know about the People’s Network?
- Have you heard of the University of the Third Age?
- Can you obtain a degree like the 90-year-old in Chapter 4?
- How can you find out whether you qualify for financial help with learning?
Refer back to Chapter 4 for refreshment.
Getting up to speed in cyberspace
There is so much you can do to enrich your retirement when you take time out to investigate the possibilities. It is easy, because the internet abounds with free online courses and learning materials, now that you know where to look.
- Will you take time out to surf the web?
- Does mastering email to keep in touch with friends appeal to you?
- How about creating your own website?
- Will you add to your expertise by learning new skills online?
- How about planning holidays online?
- Will tracing your ancestry on the internet prove a useful project?
- How about locating a few lost friends online?
- How about making new friends on the web?
- Have you thought about researching your favourite topics online?
- Can you find an interesting or unusual hobby on the internet?
- How about some cyberspace window-shopping?
- Have you ever considered comparing prices online before you buy offline?
- Will you benefit from membership of one of the third-age portals?
Refer back to Chapter 5 for refreshment.
Keeping your hand in part-time
In order to eliminate the numbing void that can be experienced on retiring from full-time work, you might think about taking up part-time work. Consider the following questions about becoming involved in part-time work.
- Do you know that you can continue to work after retirement and still pick up your state pension?
- Why not give some thought to what you might like to work at part-time?
- Will it be similar to what you did for a living?
- Will it be something in an entirely different line?
- Have you considered a trip on the Worktrain to compare options?
- Are you aware that you can benefit from New Deal 50 plus as a retiree?
Refer back to Chapter 6 for refreshment.
Starting a business for fun or profit
Deciding to become a third-age entrepreneur isn’t only a rewarding and self-fulfilling experience, it is also tremendous fun, whether you do it for pleasure or for profit. Maybe in the past you thought about starting your own business, but wavered because the risks were too great. This time it is different because your existence won’t depend on success or failure; this time, if you go ahead, you will be treating it as an exercise to add flavour and variety to your retirement.
- Do you have a hobby that you can transform into a business?
- Were you good at what you did for a living?
- Did you enjoy it?
- Can you do it again successfully without supervision?
- Are there aspects of the work you could have improved upon, if only someone had asked for your advice?
- Did the business make regular profits for your employer?
- Is there still a demand for the product or service?
- Does it lend itself to part-time entrepreneurial involvement?
- Do you want to tackle something entirely different?
- Is there any business run by other retirees that inspires you?
- Do you know where to go to find other ideas?
- Will you do some research to iron out the wrinkles?
- How can you add to your business skills?
- Will you consider starting an internet business at home?
- Do you know where to get seed funding?
- How will you go about choosing a trading name?
- Can you create a viable business plan?
Refer back to Chapter 7 for refreshment.
Participating in voluntary work
You can do voluntary work at any age. Even if you give just an hour or two a week, you can make a real difference. With time on your hands in retirement, your skills and experience can be the key to unlocking opportunity for other people less fortunate than yourself, and provide you with a real sense of purpose and achievement.
- What questions should you ask yourself before volunteering?
- What questions should you ask volunteer organisers?
- What do you know about the Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme?
- Are you prepared to reach out to others less fortunate than yourself?
- Will you enlist with the Experience Corps?
- Do you know how to set about locating voluntary organisations in your area?
Refer back to Chapter 8 for refreshment.
Writing up your experiences to benefit others
You may have considered writing up your experiences, but never got around to doing anything about it. There is plenty of help available with regard to structuring your thoughts as the subject matter for a book, website, or other medium.
- Do you know that everyone has at least one good book in them?
- Do you know what stops them writing it?
- Do you know how to test your aptitude for writing non-fiction?
- Do you know what part introspection plays in the process?
- Do you know that passing on knowledge can benefit others?
- Will you do so as a memento for your grandchildren?
- Will you consider creating a dedicated website to house your wisdom?
Refer back to Chapter 9 for refreshment.
Taking the hobby route to self-actualisation
It is good practice to have at least one hobby in retirement but better to have two, because then when your interest in one temporarily wanes, you can always switch to the other for refreshment. Some retirees would appear to focus most of their energies in this direction and, in so doing, take the hobby route to self-fulfilment. Always remember: only you can devise the masterplan for enactment. If hobbies take centre stage, so be it. It is your retirement and your life.
- Do you know how to match a hobby to your needs?
- Have you reread the ‘Review of more than 50 popular retirement hobbies’?
Refer back to Chapter 10 for refreshment.
Constructing a blueprint
Here is where you crystallise your thoughts. There is nothing more sobering than laying them all out in front of you on sheets of virgin white paper. Imagine the overall blueprint as the trunk of a pine tree with the bold headings as branches and the bullet points as needles. If all you produce is a single page, that is OK - you will be adding more later.
- Prepare an overview of your current net worth.
- Ask your financial adviser for objective advice about the ways you can increase your net worth to achieve an acceptable income during your retirement years.
- Consider other ways to add to your income, for example, part-time work or self-employment, creating streams of ancillary earnings, starting a business in retirement, or converting a hobby into a profitable pursuit.
- This is your mission statement, and only you know how to construct it.
- Think long and hard about what constitutes the ideal retirement for you. Maybe it will be all or most of the activities we have already identified; maybe it will be a selected handful; maybe you will come up with alternatives; or maybe you will focus your energies on just one activity, and dabble in others?
- Whatever you decide is OK. It is your life, your third age, so make the most of it.
- Determine any shortcomings in your education that you wish to rectify.
- Are you prepared to settle for general courses?
- Will you go the whole hog and try for a third-age degree?
- Investigate government-sponsored options, such as learn-direct, UK online centres, the People’s Network, and the University of the Third Age.
- Decide which will best suit your purpose.
- Budget for any costs you might incur, for example, books or computer software.
- If you don’t already own a computer, think about investing in one.
- If you can’t afford one, use the free service at your local public library.
- If you require initial training, take advantage of a free course available (www.EdSurf.net)
- Decide on the aspects you wish to explore.
- Review the online learning facilities listed in Chapter 5.
- Are you sufficiently fit to work part-time?
- Do you really need the extra income?
- Investigate the government schemes for locating part-time work.
- Is there something specific you wish to try your hand at?
- Make up a list of possibilities.
- Go for it, or not, as the case may be.
A retirement business
- Is this really for you?
- Can you afford to invest?
- If so, decide whether you will do it for fun or profit, or both.
- Come up with some viable ideas.
- Plan your research, whether on the internet, in a public reference library, or in trade journals.
- Find out about local business training courses, preferably free of charge.
- Prepare a budget.
- Ask public-sector sources about start-up grants.
- Read up on marketing techniques.
- Get cracking on your strategy.
- Are you totally committed to helping others?
- Do you have the time?
- Are you sufficiently fit?
- Investigate all local volunteer activities.
- Decide where your skills lie.
- Decide where they can best be put to use.
- Can you do what Ron King did, and create a website to help out?
- Make a personal commitment that you won’t jump in and then jump back out again when something more interesting comes along.
- Evaluate your accumulated wisdom.
- Establish the value of passing it on to others.
- Think about laying it all out in book form.
- Bring yourself up to speed on niche non-fiction writing techniques at my website (www.writing-for-profit.com)
- Think about creating a website to house your expertise.
- Devise an online newsletter for like-minded enthusiasts.
- Include a message board where they can post questions or viewpoints.
- List any hobbies you have that you wish to take with you into retirement.
- Can you afford these hobbies?
- Do you have room for them?
- Alternatively, if you apply yourself, can you make money out of any of them?
- If you have no hobbies, reread the ‘Review of more than 50 popular retirement hobbies’ in Chapter 10 and select one or two of interest.
- Can you convert any of these into money-making opportunities?
- Do you prefer hobbies that are just for fun?
- Take time out now to do some SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis, and review your thinking so far.
- OK, you aren’t producing a plan for business purposes upon which your entire security depends, but you are laying down parameters to pave the way for a happy and successful retirement. Treat this as a not-too-critical path analysis and look at where it is all leading up to. Maybe you are taking on too much, maybe not enough; only you know.
- There is nothing set in concrete, and there never will be, so make any adjustments you see fit and come back to your plan later.
- Will your exercise take the form of regular walks, swimming, golf, gardening, community fitness programmes, or what?
- Above all, keep your mind in good order.
- Jot down a few thoughts on whether you think travel will feature strongly in your third-age planning. Travel is important for some retirees, but not for others.
- Think seriously about your attitude to retirement and keep it positive, even bullish on occasion.
- Use this section to contain your working notes, articles, leaflets, brochures, and the like that you pick up along the way in preparation for your great new adventure.
You haven’t finished yet; your plan is still evolving, as you will discover in the next and final chapter ...