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This is what meaningful retirement planning looks like

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By Rakesh Shah Ambitious Retirees

When contemplating retirement, many of us reflect on the paths our parents took—often working tirelessly until they simply couldn’t anymore. Today, thanks to the intergenerational transfer of wealth and personal savings, many have the luxury of choosing when to retire. But the critical question isn’t how much you need to retire—it’s what are you retiring to?

As a financial adviser, I can confirm that money is crucial for achieving your goals. But have you clearly defined those goals? Are they aligned with your core values? Documenting and setting robust goals are the first steps toward meaningful retirement planning.

We often crave the lack of structure that holidays offer, primarily because our lives—from schooling to our careers—are filled with meticulously scheduled days. However, the charm of an unstructured day fades quickly. Like money, time is a precious resource, and its wise utilisation can significantly enhance your life’s quality.

Take my client Elaine, for example. As a dedicated teacher and Head of Boarding, retirement was a distant thought, overshadowed by her busy professional life. Initially, she looked forward to retirement as an endless vacation, a break from decades of schedules. But the reality was different.

Today, Elaine finds joy and fulfilment as a wedding celebrant. She brings her career skills—thoroughness, attention to detail, compassion—into her new role, still enjoying the freedom to set her schedule. Her journey from anticipating pure leisure to actively contributing to others’ happiness highlights a profound shift. Retirement gave her the canvas, but she chose to paint it with meaningful strokes.

Despite her success and satisfaction, Elaine isn’t settling. She continually seeks ways to use her talents and values to make a difference, driven by a desire to be useful and leave a legacy. “Do you think your future can be bigger than your past?” I asked her. Her pursuits and evolving goals suggest she believes the answer is a resounding yes.

Elaine measures her ‘return on life’ not by conventional metrics, but by her impact on others—a sentiment rooted in her mother’s teachings: it’s not about the number of people who attend your funeral, but about how many can say you made a difference in their lives.

Elaine’s story demonstrates that meaningful retirement planning isn’t just a cease-work milestone capped with financial security. It’s an opportunity to engage deeply, contribute meaningfully, and craft a legacy that transcends material success. As you plan for retirement, consider what structures, routines, and goals will enrich this new chapter. How will you measure your return on life?

The information provided on this site is of a general nature only and may not be relevant to your particular circumstances. The circumstances of each investor are different and you should seek advice from a financial planner who can consider if these strategies and products are right for you.

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