Toni with her dog Mylo

Feb 9, 2024 | Features, Lifestyle

Retirement – A sense of loss or a new beginning?

Written by Sally-Anne Rogers
Posted in, Features | Lifestyle.

In our pursuit of a fulfilling life, our focus is often on accumulating wealth. However, managing our health – both mental and physical – is equally important for a happy future. Toni Jordan shares her experience of marrying her perfect partnership between health and wealth, emphasising the need to prioritise wellbeing alongside financial planning in preparation for retirement.

“The challenge of retiring from a prestigious, extremely busy, and often highly stressful career is something I’d been contemplating for several years. For me it was not something to be taken lightly.”
Toni Jordan

In the beginning – all about pension

At 18 I began my career as a laboratory technician in industry and joined my first pension scheme. I had no idea what a pension was – I simply joined because I was told to! After a few years, I decided to leave and undertake a three-year career break (along with a pension break) to study full-time at university. 

Armed with my degree, I was offered a graduate entry scheme with a petrochemical company and began contributing to my second pension. A few years later, I took a further five-year career break (and another pension contribution break) as I’d decided to change direction and study medicine. 

Financial Advisor Nantwich
Stock image

By the time I began working as a junior doctor with the NHS, I’d joined my third pension scheme. Fortunately, from day one, I was able to buy additional years of pension contributions to help narrow the gap in my private pension and so this continued throughout my medical career.

Facing the retirement challenge

The challenge of how to retire from a prestigious, extremely busy, and often highly stressful career was something I’d been contemplating for several years. I read copious amounts of articles and spoke to as many people as possible, all regaling their experience of what retirement meant to them. Some accounts filled me with dread as I read about the “loss of identity” and feelings of being a “lesser person”, with many returning to some kind of paid work, often in a similar field to their original career. 

It seemed to me that the more “high powered” or revered the position, the greater the sense of loss, almost grief, that some people experienced on retirement. It struck me that it was as if the retiree had lost their own persona somewhere along the way and had come to rely on the façade provided by their job. 

I spoke to people who had retired from physically active jobs to a happy but sedentary life. Several lamented their increasing girth and reduced physically fitness as the years went by; this had an impact on me and something I took onboard.

Financial Advisor Nantwich
Toni and Mylo at the top of Old Pale, Delamere, one of their favourite walks

A new view on the world

My extensive research helped me arrive at the decision to reduce my hours and work part-time before fully retiring. During my (care)free days, I became more physically active, developing new interests such as going to classes at the local gym, swimming, and weight training – not to mention adopting my first dog, giving me new opportunities to meet people through dog training, and by joining a dog walking club. I taught myself German, experimented with growing vegetables organically, which has become one of my primary passions on how best to optimise my diet for my future health and wellbeing. 

Through my newly found interests and activities, I met new friends completely outside the sphere of medicine, some of whom have since become my closest. It gave me time to get to know and understand people, this time not as patients, but informally with no diagnosis necessary!

As I pursued my interests and spent time with new friends, I found my days away from work became full and varied. My non-medical friends validated who I was as an individual and not as a doctor. After three years of working part-time, I felt ready to take full retirement.  

I’m delighted to say I have not experienced the feelings of grief or loss of self-esteem I feared. My days continue to be filled. I’m healthier and fitter than I was. Most importantly, I’m happy that I’ve chosen the right path to enable me to continue to explore all the possibilities my future may hold.

Toni Jordan – Happily Retired Person

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