Wake up! You’re sleep-walking into retirement (and now it’s official)

by | Jun 21, 2021

Are you sleep-walking into retirement?

If you’ve been following my blogs, podcasts and social media posts, you will probably have heard me mention a few times that I believe many of us are ‘sleepwalking’ into retirement.

So imagine my delight when I stumbled across an article in The Telegraph newspaper here in the UK the other week, which use this exact phrase! It was a real validation of what I’ve been telling my clients for a while: and now the concept has finally made it to the mainstream.

Are you sleepwalking into retirement?

“Five million over-50s ‘sleepwalking’ into a retirement crisis”, declares the headline, which jumped out at me immediately.

The article, by Jessica Beard, explains that “Five million older workers face a retirement crisis as they will fall short of an “adequate” income once they leave work, an industry report has warned”.

Apparently, more than 90% of private sector workers with “defined contribution” (or DC) pensions won’t be able to afford a comfortable retirement, and will be forced to live on less than their expected income, according to research by the Pensions Policy Institute.

The article goes on to say that “Millions of over-50s planning to leave their careers could be pushed into poverty and financial insecurity, a situation that has been worsened by the pandemic.”

“The report, which was sponsored by the Centre for Ageing Better, a charity, warned a low state pension and increasing unemployment were key factors that would leave a quarter of those approaching retirement without enough to pay for an “adequate” standard of living”.

So of course, the article is about money, but that’s not surprising. But isn’t it a bit depressing? It talks about ‘leaving your career’, and an ‘adequate’ standard of living. These phrases ring alarm bells for me – what about you?

Is money your biggest retirement worry?

Is money really what we should be focusing on? And is this the true nature of the crisis we are sleepwalking into? Or are things like the low state pension really nothing more than deckchairs being moved around on the deck of the Titanic?

If you’re wondering what I mean, consider this. Most of us will outlive our savings anyway, so a few pounds more saved here, or a few less there doesn’t really make a huge amount of difference.

You need to focus on more than fantasy funds when it comes to retirement

In other words, obsessing about the money side of retirement (or ‘Fantasy Funds’, as I like to call it) is directing your energy in the wrong place. Life expectancy in the US and UK is currently 83 but a large percentage of baby boomers are likely to live to 90 and beyond, so how will they fund their retirement? In a word (or two) – they won’t.

And if their funds run out in their eighties, they can hardly expect to be able to go back to work, given that their physical and mental health will have diminished by years of inactivity.

What’s the real retirement issue?

So, what do I suggest? That we stop focusing ‘leaving our careers’ and having ‘adequate’ money, and look at the real issue here.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t make sure your finances are in order as you move towards retirement: that wouldn’t make sense. But your finances are, in fact, only a symptom of the problem, just like obsessing about your health, and just like wandering aimlessly into this next stage of your life.

And the problem itself? A lack of purpose.

Lost your purpose? Find it and retirement is a cinch

If this intrigues you, and you’d rather know about the iceberg below the Titanic than continue to rearrange those deckchairs – then instead of reading more about the state pension, why not explore my online courses?

They will dare you to rebel against conventional approaches to retirement, see through the ‘fake news’ we’re told about how to live in later life and choose to prosper instead.

George Jerjian
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