Financial adviser Mike Middleton says a lot more is needed for a happy retirement than a pension. So, what is needed for a happy retirement?

You could say what is a needed for a happy retirement is simply financial security – being able to retire comfortably knowing that you, and your partner, children and grandchildren are all financial looked after.

But retirement is more than just been financially secure and having a pension that pays out – fulfilment and a sense of purpose are all essential for a happy retirement.

Middleton says: “Clearly having a healthy pension is a good thing to have when you retire, but it is not sufficient for a happy retirement. The excessive focus that retirement planning equals building-up savings leaves most people ill-prepared for the profound psychological impact when they retire.

“In my experience, most people find their spending goes down when they retire, so whatever your pension it will probably go further than you expect. That is the good news.

“The bad news is many people, including those with healthy pensions, enter retirement without plans to do anything fulfilling. Travel and golf can be great at occupying time enjoyably initially. However, the loss of purpose and status that comes from no longer working eventually seeps through, bringing mental health and well-being problems.

“In my experience, most people find their spending goes down when they retire, so whatever your pension it will probably go further than you expect. That is the good news.

“Instead, a less one-dimensional approach to retirement is needed. People need to think deeply about what they find fulfilling so they can find such roles in retirement. This needs to happen well ahead of retirement, say in your 40s and 50s. Often people have not found their job fulfilling in later life, so retirement is actually a great opportunity to make your retirement the most fulfilling time of your life.”

Caroline Nolder – a retired podiatrist runs a Bed and Breakfast (B&B) in Bruton, Somerset (www.turkshall.co.uk) and set up the website B&B Doctor (www.bandbdoctor.com) to help new and existing B&B’s and small hotels with their media profiles

Nolder says: “The excitement of my first client was something I will never forget. The work is challenging, but there is always that excitement of another project. I have found that I seem to be inspiring other older women (mainly) to start up their dream.

She adds: “Before starting out however, you must do considerable research, make sure where your money is coming from and don’t dip into savings. Having a mentor has been my saving grace. We all have to look after ourselves in later years and living your dream business is one way of life never just drifting by.”

Middleton’s tips for ensuring a happy retirement

People need to start thinking about their retirement much earlier, ideally in their 40s.  Develop a plan that ensures you remain physically and mental active. Identify the things you love to do and keep doing them, otherwise you run the risk of losing purpose in your life.

  • A plan is not a simple list of things that would be “nice” to do. It is essential to properly understand yourself, your abilities, whether you want to carry on working in some way beyond retirement, or perhaps using your skills in other ways.
  • Your plans may necessitate developing new skills, networks and contacts. The earlier you start, the more likely you are to fulfil your ambitions. If you need to acquire new skills, when and how are you going to develop them? Can you afford to? If not, what can you do to make this happen?
  • People need to really think about what fulfils them and how they can do this in retirement. Yes, do nice things like a cruise or buy your dream car.  But these will quickly wear off and you simply end up finding yourself unhappily sitting on a cruise or in an Aston Martin!
  • Too often people leave considering the changes they want to make in life until the last minute. The result is they find they have underestimated what is required and the result can be an emotional trough when your retirement aspirations are seemingly snatched away.