"". Are You Set Up to Live Your Best Life in Retirement? | Is This Mutton?

Fashion for the over 50s with books and beauty

Search This Blog

Wednesday 12 July 2023

Are You Set Up to Live Your Best Life in Retirement?

 Gail Hanlon from Is This Mutton with fuchsias at the Hampton Court Flower Festival

Dear friends.  I recently celebrated my first year of not working. When people ask what I do, I say I'm leading my best life. I honestly am. 

But I'm fairly unusual in saying this. Research shows that a lot of people who retire regret it.  There's identity loss for some;  too much time on their hands for others, and financial insecurity for many. 

A new book, Relish Your Retirement by Florance Philip, addresses the challenges and has more than 500 ideas to give women a blissful retirement. 

I'll be covering some of the advice in the book, plus lessons and tips from me and two friends, Penny and Veronica.  

Identity Loss

In her book Florance Philip addresses this as one of the top challenges. People coming up to retirement, she says, often use words like daunting, scary, even depressing.

Indeed, I was conscious that the word "retirement" has a lot of negative perceptions to it. It makes you think of apple cheeked old people living out their twilight years.  If you Google retirement, you mostly get pages of pension advice. There's very little about how fulfilling and blissful these years can be. I often use the phrase "I've given up work" to imply that it was something I chose to do. 

Florance explains that for most of us our job is an integral part of who we are as a person for most of our adult life. It gives us purpose each day, "the chance to interact with others, leave our homes, and hopefully form some great friendships with our peers. When that is suddenly stripped away, all the preparation in the world might not be enough to keep you from feeling lonely and lost."

Retirement needs to be treated as a transition, she says. It's a significant life shift. "The realization that 'who you are' can exist entirely separate from 'what you do for work' is the beginning of your journey to a fulfilled retirement."

I had no sense of identity loss because being a blogger gives me a sense of pride and achievement. I did worry that being retired I'd become out of touch, losing track of technology and what's trendy, but that's nothing to do with work.  It's a choice to stay "in the loop" and not become that over-60s person who can't deal with new gadgets or apps.

If You're in Your 40s, Don't Bury Your Head in the Sand 

I was planning to carry on working for another couple of years, but then the company where I'd been employed for four years asked for volunteers for redundancy.  John had retired four years previously and it suddenly seemed a no brainer. But would I be able to retire, financially?

I went to see an independent financial advisor, a step I strongly recommend. 

I'm not going to dwell on the financial do's and don'ts, but my advice to those in their 40s is to get on top of your pension.  Many companies offer the chance to make additional payments.  Retirement might seem a long way off, and with the huge hike in mortgage payments recently, pension planning is probably at the bottom of the list. But if you retire in your early 60s as I have, and you're fit and active, you'll want to do some fun things with your time and these require money. 

Gail Hanlon, over 60s style blogger, on life after work

Five Stages of Retirement 

Assuming the financial planning is taken care of, and you know what your income will be, you'll need to do some thinking around how you're going to spend your time. 

Florance Philip says that there are generally five stages to retirement. Stage one is Planning. Stage two is Anticipation, three is Retirement Bliss,  four is Discontentment, and five is Reconditioning and Stability.

Her book Relish Your Retirement has literally hundreds of ideas for how to spend your time. Not all the activities require cash. Many are about giving something back. Others are learning experiences, so we carry on growing. 

My Retirement Plans 

My own goals when I retired last June were to "do more" of the fitness activities I enjoy- walking, weights and Pilates - so that I can stay active for as long as possible. I wanted to make new friends via MeetUp and the Kettlewell Colour Club;  explore culture by visiting an art exhibition or event every month, and expand my blogging to include books, plus improving the SEO and dding a new challenge link-up. 

I also planned to do some fun things, like going to RHS events (top, at Hampton Court Garden Festival) and to see more ballet and go to more pop concerts.  

To start with, I was living retirement at a fairly frenzied pace. I felt guilty if I sat down to read a book on a wet day, figuring I should be "doing something."  I was scheduling activities and buying tickets months in advance, which then became problematic when other family activities intervened. 

Taking up cycling, a recent addition, has meant I've had to re-evaluate how I spend my time.  I'm pacing myself better now, no longer dashing around like a whirling dervish.

I've decided to go only to art exhibitions that inspire me, and not to fret if I do a cycle ride instead of a walk! Long term, I would like to write a book of some sort, have an allotment  (I've been on the waiting list for years!) and do some charity work in Epping Forest.

Penny's Experience

Penny, the blogger behind Frugal Fashion Shopper, thought she would retire at age 60, when she was eligible for the state pension (it's now 65, moving to 67 and then 68 with further changes likely), but she worked on until she was 62 because she was a freelance researcher and evaluator of older people’s services,  and people kept asking her to do things.

Penny, who's 77,  says she had no retirement plan whatsoever. 

"I vaguely thought about ‘volunteering’. But when I had opportunities or when people contacted me, it was always connected to older people and their care. I really wanted to avoid that so for a long time I didn’t do anything in the way of volunteering.

"Instead I took courses, built a website with Dreamweaver (never ask me to do that again, it was torture) and did masses of family history unearthing what I think was a very big ’secret’ that my mother hid all  her life. 

"I thought of writing novels, and edited my father’s memoir of his life in the Indian Army which was a major piece of work. In fact I kept office hours for years and am only just getting  out of that habit writing only in the morning now. But before I’d do a whole day at my desk. So actually I was incredibly busy - without planning things at all!" 

Eventually along came Penny's two blogs and she also ran a film society.  And she says this is the best thing about retirement: "It develops the creative parts of you that were hidden due to pressures of work."

But she urges everyone not to procrastinate if they have unfulfilled goals or dreams. "All of a sudden older age does set in, and when it does you realise you should have done this and you should have done that. So never ever wait to do something - do it NOW!"

Penny's Tips for Retirement

  1. Err, do realise that you are going to be old - I never thought I would be....
  2. Errr um, do realise that you really should sort out your pension - I never did!
  3. Don't dread it. It is THE most creative time of your life - or could be if you let it!
  4. But if you haven’t sorted out your finances, that could partially limit some things like travel and other adventures
  5. And talking about adventures - how can you have adventures whilst working? Retirement is THE time of your life - just go for it!

Veronica's Experience

Like Penny, Veronica had no regrets about retiring.  She retired on her birthday, aged 60.  "I knew I wanted to join a walking group and I also knew I wanted to do some voluntary work. 

"I checked everything out beforehand. I started walking with a group immediately and began volunteering for Citizens Advice about 3 months later."

Veronica is often a walk leader for the Ramblers' Association and you'll find pictures of her walks, plus her work at a food bank and her love for thrifted fashion at Vronni's Style Meanderings

Veronica's 5 Tips 

  1. If it's financially possible reduce your working hours in advance of retirement. This helps you make the transition more easily. I went down to 3 days a week 5 years before I retired but almost immediately my daughter had another baby and I spent those 2 days childminding!
  2. Think about things you like to do; hobbies, sports etc.Think about how you might spend time each day or week incorporating these into your retired lifestyle.
  3. Check out classes at your Retirement Centre or local college or Education centre - it's a great way to develop a new skill/hobby and meet people.
  4. Check out all your financial entitlements.
  5. Think about volunteering!

Relish Your Retirement book by Florance Philip

Buy the book:  Waterstones, Amazon 

If you're retired, what was your experience? Did you go through the 5 stages?  Have you discovered new or forgotten skills?  If retirement is a long way off, are you consciously planning for it, financially? Do let us know in the comments. 

Sharing this post with: Weekday Wear at Away from the Blue, #AnythingGoes at My Random Musings, Hello Monday at Sunshine and Books, Rena at Fine WhateverTurning Heads Tuesday at Elegantly Dressed and Stylish,  Confident Twosday at I Do Declaire, Style with a Smile at StylesplashTalent Sharing Tuesdays at Scribbling BoomerCurated by Jennifer (Wednesdays), Chic & Stylish at Mummabstylish, #SpreadTheKindness  and #Linkup on the Edge at Shelbee on the Edge,  Thursday Fashion Files at Doused in Pink, #Neverendingstyle at The Grey BrunetteFancy Friday at Nancy's Fashion Style,  Traffic Jam Weekend at Marsha in the Middle Senior Salon Pitstop at Esme Salon Crafty Creators at Life as a Leo Wife, 5 on Friday at Penny's Passion 

You May Also Like

I was one of the first female football reporters

Plans and Goals for retirement -written a year ago

A Life at Work:  40th anniversary meet-up with the colleagues I trained with on a newspaper course 

It's time for #WowOnWednesday, the weekly link-up where bloggers can find new readers, and readers can find new blogs. I feature the three favourites each Wednesday on Instagram, and my five or six top picks at the weekend on Twitter and Facebook. 

Any posts that interest women are welcome: fashion, beauty, home decor, gardening, books, travel, recipes. Each week there will be as Featured Favourite for Fashion, Beauty and Other Categories.

Last Week's Favourites

Overall Favourite 

My Summer Bucket List by Joanne of Slices of Life 

Fashion Favourite

Cookery Favourite

The fudgiest chocolate zucchini brownies by Nicolle of Our Tiny Nest

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


  1. Good tips. I ,retired, 10 years ago. When I was 46. Of course not voluntary, because of my illness. But for me it is very important to have structure. But it did take me about 18 months to find that structure.

    1. Yes it definitely takes time to find the right groove!

  2. Thanks for hosting and sharing a wonderful tips on retirement...


Blog Design Created by pipdig