Thought you were retiring? Think again

If you’re convinced that retirement represents a blissful alternative to your working life, it might be time to reconsider. The latest federal budget poses changes set to impact the lives of older Australians, embracing indexation measures that will make the pension harder to access and hinting at plans to up the retirement age to 70.

A December 2013 study by the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that full-time workers are still planning to retire early and hold outdated expectations about plans to sustain themselves once they bow out of work. The study found that 25 per cent of respondents plan to retire when they are aged 60 to 64, and 49 per cent of those who retire expect their income to stem from pension and superannuation – despite findings that only 17 per cent of real-world retirees reported living comfortably on these payments.

For full-time employees, the prospect of retiring when you’re 70 calls for a different mindset about how you approach your working life. Here are three steps you can take to smooth over obstacles that may arise between now and then.

1. Keep yourself in the loop

If you’re staying in the workforce longer, it’s critical that you keep abreast of technological shifts and new professional trends. Whether it’s taking a short course to improve your literacy, boosting networking opportunities through social media platforms or subscribing to industry journals, knowledge is power when it comes to building a sustainable career.

2. Invest in your health

Remember that working until you hit 70 is bound to take a toll on your health. That’s why swapping habits such as drinking, smoking or eating a less-than-wholesome diet for good lifestyle choices is a powerful form of preparation. It’s also important to improve your fitness to ensure that you can maintain your concentration levels and perform demanding tasks. From joining a gym to factoring a daily run into your routine, small changes now can have a big impact down the track.

3. Consider alternative occupations

If your current career demands extensive travel, long hours or tough working conditions, it’s worth thinking about related occupations that are more suitable as you age. However, making yourself employable in a related industry can also take a significant amount of time and effort. Think about enrolling in night classes, speaking to people who’ve successfully navigated a career change or signing up for a postgraduate course or separate degree. Putting in the groundwork when you’re in your physical prime is good news for your stress levels when you’re well into your 60s.

The idea of retiring when you’re 70 calls for a rethink of your lifestyle as well as a plan to steer your career through the additional years. Learn more about Australia’s ageing workforce.

What moves have you taken to prepare yourself for a longer working life and the reality of retiring later?

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