Retire don’t Expire! by Steve Amoss

Thursday, 20 June, 2024

Retirement can be a wonderful next chapter in your life, but it can also be somewhat unsettling, with many people struggling with this huge change. It can be a journey of discovery and fulfilment and open-up many new possibilities that have perhaps never been fulfilled because life, and work, kept getting in the way. The exciting new book ‘Retire…don’t Expire’ will help you navigate your way through those early years when your whole life is about to change. But learning how to retire is key. You’ll have new opportunities, new priorities, and a whole host of things you may not expect! I wrote this book as a guide to help people recognise the many different aspects of their lives that are going to change, and hopefully help direct them away from the many mistakes I made!

Retirement isn’t simply an event that occurs at point later in life; it’s more of a process, often made up of different stages.  If you’re going to make the transition as smooth and successful as possible, understanding what you’re about to go through, or indeed, are going through, is fundamental to a long and happy retirement. And retirement doesn’t just affect you, it will also affect all those around you. But here’s the good news; you can make some adjustments to your transition into retirement that will make a huge difference to your happiness and sense of fulfilment. Working out what’s important to you, and why, is fundamental. Don’t waste time like I did trying to figure it out, making lots of mistakes along the way as the clock ticks down. Reading my book will help you avoid pitfalls and make great choices that will lead to a long and successful retirement. The book is not about financial planning or managing investments, but about helping you understand the journey you are about to embark upon, including the importance of significance, structure, routine, expectations and having fun and being spontaneous.

Now if you are anything like me, you’ve probably had thoughts about retirement for some time, and before you knew it, it’s crept up on you, that day arrives and you’re not fully prepared. Suddenly there’s no rules! There’s no one telling you what you can or can’t do (unless you’re married…ok, cheap joke, but there’s more of those in the book!), where you need to be, or what the latest priority is. Now your priority is getting out of bed and facing up to the fact that your work, which possibly reinforced your sense of identity, is gone. For those people who had highly skilled careers, the loss of their status may leave them feeling somewhat disoriented. Those whose daily work experience was largely negative and/or filled with mindless monotony may well see retirement as a welcome relief. Either way, you are about to go through a huge change!

When I retired, I stumbled along in those early years without really knowing what I was doing. I still bump into former colleagues, some who have since retired, and some who are still working towards that, and the one thing that seems fairly common amongst many of them is that they don’t really know what they are going to do when they retire. Oh sure, there’s the period when a holiday of a lifetime, spending more time with the grandchildren, or playing more golf etc. seems like the perfect plan. And that’s usually ok for the first few months. But once that initial period is over, I’ve seen too many former colleagues either go and get another job (not for financial reasons, but because they don’t know what else to do), or lose their enthusiasm for life, their sense of direction or purpose, and then, before you know it, expire! For me, I became lost, but slowly, step-by-step, I began to work it out. I began to realize what’s important to me, what I could change, and what to let go of.

I decided to write my book in the style of the “lessons” that I learned along the way (with a little humour thrown in…well, I think some of this is funny!), in part so that you don’t have to go through the slow, protracted, painful experiences that I went through. There’s a total of 13 lessons, plus a “Wish someone had told me that” summary at the end of each lesson.

For example; Lesson 1 starts with Significance and helps us to understand that many of us may have identified with our role or position; it became part of who we are. Perhaps you used this in your every day conversations such as “I’m a police officer” or “I’m a teacher”, stating what you are, rather than “I police” or “I teach”, which is what you do, further adding to a sense of identifying with our job. And then along comes retirement. All of a sudden that label is removed. Your identity, perhaps even your standing in society has been altered, and your level of significance changes. And that can be quite unsettling. It’s probably one of the reasons why people who retire often go and get another job shortly after retirement – to have another label that they can wear that gives them that sense of significance! But retirement can be seen as a catalyst for seeking out exciting new opportunities, perhaps discovering your passion that allows you to enjoy this next chapter, and still feel a sense of significance. In my case, that was a combination of a number of different things. I volunteer for a couple of international charities, one of which responds to help people affected by disaster or conflict and another that builds playgrounds in third world countries. I’ve also helped locally with another charity and coached kids football at one of my local schools.  And I write! But getting to this point was a somewhat painful and protracted process. It took me years to work it out, losing myself and my sense of significance. Slowly I added to the “retirement portfolio of activities” that now feels right for me.  Only you can decide what feels right for you (despite how “helpful” your partner may want to be!). So it’s important to look for opportunities when you retire (or approach retirement) that will give you the degree of significance that’s important to you. And be receptive to the fact that it may come in the form of more than one activity or role.

Another major change is Routine, which is covered in Lesson 3. We’re creatures of habit, that’s why most of us love our routines. We frequently spend many of our days in our familiar, comfortable routines, often surrounded by who and what we know. It’s one of the reasons why so many British people will go on holiday to a foreign country, and then eat an English breakfast in the morning, whilst reading an English newspaper, and look for an English or Irish pub in the evening that sells a familiar beer or glass of wine! We’ve become conditioned and tend to trust what we are familiar and comfortable with, to operate in a certain way. But retirement throws us a curve ball. Those well-trodden work routines that impacted on a large part of our life are gone. There are relatively few consequences if you oversleep or decide that a sore throat means you’re really too ill to venture out. You don’t have to phone the office and put on your worst gravelly voice to convince your boss how ill you are! No one cares if you slept through your alarm, or the car wouldn’t start. In fact, you’re probably quietly laughing to yourself when you see the snow ploughs out on the M25 motorway or read about the latest “wrong type of leaves on the line” that’s halted the trains. So there are some real positives in stepping away from your work routine. But without routine, it can be very easy to lose focus, perhaps become even a bit lazy. You can get up when you want, eat when you want, spend all day watching TV if you want, or spend the afternoon dozing in the armchair. That’s not living, that’s expiring! It’s perfectly ok to kick back for a while. And when you’ve had a little time out, recharged your batteries, you need to think about your new routine. But this time it can be different, because you get to decide what this looks like. And boy that can throw some people! For me, the routine that I found that worked best gave me the flexibility to change it when I wanted to and be able to say yes to short notice opportunities (or as I like to see them; adventures!). I learned to recognise the need for some form of new routine, but it didn’t need to be related to another paid job or be so rigid and full-time that it became controlling and prohibitive. I wanted some space for when opportunities arose that interested me and allowed me to have fun!

Another Lesson focuses on Expectations. Let me ask you this; are you a ‘people pleaser’? You know, the type of person that doesn’t like to upset anyone or can be reluctant to say “no”? Is this how you are with your partner, family, or perhaps some of your closer friends? As you approach retirement you may well have had a number of conversations about what you’re going to do with all this perceived spare time you’ll have. Maybe some of these people have started to decide FOR YOU what you’ll be doing! It’s often the case that other people have an expectation of what you should or shouldn’t be doing, or what they think you’ll be able to do, and probably make some assumptions about what they think you’ll enjoy doing too. And if you don’t have that level of significance and routine that you’ve previously had, you can easily find yourself filling that void by taking on tasks that you don’t really have any burning desire to do. I did!  So you definitely need to have a conversation with your partner and those closest to you and manage any expectations (yours and theirs), and then decide how you want to use your time. 

However, expectations can appear in all forms of guises. But the worst type is the one that nobody told you about! You know, because you’re now retired, your partner expected you’d pick up all the household chores, but never discussed this with you! Or maybe it was you who was expecting to play golf 3 times a week, but you didn’t think to mention this to your partner. Expectations based on assumptions can lead to a painful transition. Additionally, if your partner has already retired, or wasn’t in work, they may also have expectations around carrying on with their routine and have no intention of changing things now that you’re around the house a bit more! So you’re going to have to talk to your partner, family and friends and manage both your and their expectations, hopefully reaching some clarity and understanding, which of course will be less painful for everyone!

Retire…don’t Expire is a great but easy read with many Lessons that can truly help you successfully transition into this next chapter of your life. Whatever you decide is the right pathway for you, take that leap forward with enthusiasm and optimism, and look to enjoy it wherever you can. Recognise you will have some challenges as you get older, but you will also have many opportunities. Your retirement will be what you make it, and you have freedom of choice like you’ve probably never had before. So grab hold of your opportunities, be true to yourself and with those around you and look to fulfil your ambitions. Seek stimulation and growth, and have as much fun along the way as possible! I truly hope the experiences and lessons I went through can help you make better choices, providing you with a long, fulfilling and enjoyable retirement. Good luck!

Retire…don’t Expire by Steve Amoss is now available on, priced at £9.99.

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