Heading for the end of full-time work? You need the Ten Planning Commandments for Retirement.

Is retirement heading your way? If so, it’s far too big a transition to drift into. And, if that’s what you’ve already done, now’s the time to play catch up.

The way you normally ‘do life’ will impact the extent to which you’ll be ready in good time. If you’re a ‘lists’ person – who shops for Christmas at Easter – it will come naturally.

But, if you’re more of an ‘I’ll worry when it happens’ type, you’ll need what you are about to read more than most. So, whatever your style, here’s wisdom inspired by David Winter’s book The Highway Code for Retirement (CWR). In it he offers –

Ten Planning Commandments for Retirement

  1. Plan for it
  2. Check your pensions
  3. Thank about a part-time job or retraining
  4. Consider a pre-retirement course
  5. Consider the lifestyle in retirement that’s right for you and your loved ones – keeping in mind what God may have in store
  6. List those things to avoid
  7. Fight mental and spiritual rust
  8. Plan for the transition
  9. Consider a Gap Year or time out
  10. Use the final months of work to wind down rather than get wound up

That’s the bones. Now let’s add some flesh using David Winter’s thoughts from his book mixed with some of my own. And in no particular order.

With retirement on the way, make sure you –

Define the kind of life you seek: Ideally, make a written list of what would you love to achieve or experience. Learn a language, see the Northern Lights, take up a new hobby, explore your family history, or more?

This should include considering what God might have in mind for you. And this might involve using your time and talents in the service of others. Indeed, there are many voluntary roles crying out to be filled by those in their afterwork years.

The God-dimension could also encompass using your newly-released time for the kind of prayer, reflection and even theological study not possible in your past. Or see you pitching in on some short term church project.

What goes on your list may come readily to your mind. But for inspiration, look at the AfterWorkNet web pages on New Opportunities.

Identify the things to avoid: You are not the only one with plans for your retirement. In the wings will be those ready to ask you to run things and do things – from clubs to courses to rotas and more.

Some might fit your bill perfectly. However, saying ‘yes’ to one thing could mean having to say ‘no’ to something else. And that ‘something else’ may be on your treasured to-do list. Which means it’s wise, ahead of time, to set your priorities.

Plan to keep your mind active: As they say, ‘if you don’t use it you lose it’. So include a commitment to keeping the grey matter from freezing. There’s big stuff – like joining a chess or bridge club. And smaller stuff like doing a daily crossword, playing Scrabble against the iPad app, or reading a serious newspaper.

Take account of the reality: Leaving full-time work can be like a bereavement. And it’s as well to be aware of the emotional impact that may come your way. In particular, consider the issues of –

Loss of status – when the pass to the company door is no longer valid, and there is no one for you to give instructions to or take them from.

Stress – due to change of circumstances and leading to many finding themselves unwell either physically or emotionally.

Consider a Gap Year: Your kids may well have had a ‘year out’ between school and university eras. So what about a similar approach for those between the years of ‘work’ and ‘afterwork’?

There could be no better opportunity to take on a short term community project – including one overseas. To explore what this could mean see Serving.

Check where the money will come from: Hopefully you have not left the need to provide for your afterwork years until the last moment. But either way, it’s important to have everything in order for the sake of others as well as yourself.

For insight on getting it right check out Money.

Get the best help you can: It’s possible your employer will run or fund a Pre-retirement Course – covering the emotional, physiological and practical implications of retirement. If so, grab it. If not, ask them to arrange one.

Alternately, check out what’s available through organisations like LaterLife. As a result you’ll tap into specialist and wise advice that has already been the help to many.

Coming your way is the opportunity – and responsibility – to invest some precious years wisely. Plan now and enjoy the adventure when it comes.

Peter Meadows

Peter is AfterWorkNet’s Programme Director. He uses his retirement to help churches, resource inter-church initiatives, enjoy his eight grandchildren, escape to Spain and to spend his kids’ inheritance.


  1. I found March to December great in retirement- lovely weather made lots of outdoor pursuits available. LeAding up to Christmas kept me busy too. Just finding January a bit tedious- especially after having flu for a month! A lot of days can seem the same. My husband loves retirement though so I feel guilty then if I get bored some days. It’s great when we can visit the grandchildren but it’s not possible every week with their commitments. Need some new inspiration. Did a theology course last year that I loved.

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The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years"

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife