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Ready for Retirement

Ready for Retirement

People facing the life transition from full-time employment to retirement have to realize that they are retiring from a job, not from life.

SIDEBAR: Career Planning Guide Part III - Calling It A Day

You're thinking about leaving the rats and the race behind you - but perhaps not too far behind. Whether you're dropping the reins completely and finally getting a life or just putting semi in front of the "r" word, you need to carefully consider the next step in your career.

This is the third and final part of CIO's series dedicated to helping CIOs take charge of their careers. To learn more about getting on the CIO career track, be sure to check out Part I, "In the Beginning", in the November 2005 issue of CIO and Part II, "Mid-Career Kickers", in the Dec 2005/Jan 2006 issue.

When David Boyles is not annoying his neighbours during the several hours a day he spends practising his saxophone, he is likely to be poring over his stock portfolio and hunting for new technologies that stand a good chance of enhancing his already comfortable retirement income.

At least, that is the way he spends his time during the five days a week he is not working.

"One of the things many of us do not have the time to do while we are in the CIO role is to look at up-and-coming technologies and technology companies and invest in them," Boyles says. "[Since retiring as a CIO] I've had pretty good success in investing in publicly listed companies whose technology I've had time to take a look at and it really is kind of fun. And in at least one case I am on the board of one of these companies so there is quite a nice symbiotic relationship."

Experts warn that without careful planning, many will find retirement both depressing and unfulfilling. The best way to prepare for the change, career counsellors and psychologists say, is by exploring satisfying - and ideally profitable - ways to use your time and energy. The time he spends dedicated to both his music and his share portfolio are among the reasons why Boyles has had no trouble easing into retirement since leaving as CIO of the ANZ Bank in December 2003.

People facing the life transition from full-time employment to retirement have to realize that they are retiring from a job, not from life, says Zahava Starak, senior education adviser, Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. "When the door closes on their life work they can view their future as a blank wall or a wall with many doors waiting to be opened. But first up what they are immediately facing is change, and even for the most successful and powerful individual this 'change' can be a scary opponent.

"To prepare for retirement and to be able to explore and embrace options after the big farewell, the newly unemployed can benefit from a good sit down, face-to-face engagement with the enemy - change itself. Change for most of us is not easy. It is a process that brings about both loss and gain. There are costs and benefits. Sometimes we choose not to change as the costs heavily outweigh the benefits. When retirement is foisted on the individual there is no choice . . . or the only choice is to tip the balance to the gains.

"Once the challenge of change has been accepted, the individual can then look at the prospect of developing a new attitude towards retirement and the next life stage. The situation is reviewed and the focus moves from a negative perspective to a more positive one. With this new attitude the idea of change is no longer daunting or terrifying and the future outlook is more promising. The individual becomes empowered and more in control," Starak says.

"The main issue is to have a project or goal to pursue, which is inspiring and energising," says clinical psychologist Dr Janet Hall of the Accelerated Success Centre. "You also need the financial security to be able to make choices to support the lifestyle to which you would like to be accustomed."

Almost two years after retiring from full-time work, Boyles is living Hall's advice: his retirement savings give him the luxury of working no more than two days a week on selected consultancy projects that excite his imagination; while his dabbling in the share market ensures his retirement will remain comfortable into the future.

Boyles warns that unless they have begun planning their retirement well in advance, CIOs contemplating retirement might need to invest heavily in such up and coming technologies. If there is one thing that is clear about retiring or getting into part-time work it is that you need to have "quite a bit of money saved up", he says. In fact it is only because he has a hefty retirement income behind him that he has the luxury of being extremely selective about the consultancy work he has been doing since leaving a six-month stint as interim CIO for AGL last year. Since then he has done some consulting on behalf of, and written a book for Microsoft, he has sat on a board and taken on other consulting tasks that have grabbed his attention or excited his imagination.

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