How to adapt to retirement

It’s natural to feel apprehensive as you approach retirement. After all, it’s one of the biggest changes in our lives. A common concern of pre-retirees is having enough money or knowing how much to have. So, a lot of the focus of pre-retirement planning goes on the financial aspect. However, good social and mental health planning, which is often overlooked, can be key to helping you adapt well and feel confident in retirement.

The Retirement Confidence Index1, an annual study by AustralianSuper and Monash University, shows the fear of retirement often goes away after you’ve retired. Most retirees say they feel more confident about their goals, compared to pre-retirees.

The study highlights several key factors to feeling confident and adapting well in retirement, including goal setting and understanding your finances. Knowing a bit more about each of these can help you adapt to this new chapter and plan your retirement with confidence.


Set clear goals to help boost your confidence in retirement

Setting clear goals is an important predictor of retirement confidence, says Eraj Ghafoori, Behavioural Economist at AustralianSuper.

‘More than half of the surveyed respondents were clear about their goals and expectations for retirement. Retirees were more confident about their retirement goals than the pre-retirees,’ he says.

According to Ghafoori, when setting goals, it’s important to take these 3 steps:

1. Visualise the kind of retirement you want

For example, do you see yourself playing tennis or golf once a week? How about expanding your veggie garden, or getting those roses in tip-top shape? What about an overseas trip to somewhere sunny and tropical?

2. Gather information about what you need to do to achieve your vision

Using the same example, you could find out if your local tennis club has a competition for over 60s. Or research home gardening courses nearby.

3. Make your goals specific and clear

Being specific and clear, setting deadlines, and locking in actions can help you achieve your goals. For example, you could commit to practicing tennis once a week for 6 months to prepare for a competition.

Get help planning with financial planning

Adapting well to retirement often comes down to good planning and goal setting. More than 40% of Australians retire earlier than expected, so it can be a good idea to plan sooner, rather than later.

AustralianSuper has tools and resources to help you on your retirement planning journey. Members can get simple super advice over the phone, or for more comprehensive advice we can also help you find a professional financial adviser.* Find out more about advice options



Maintain physical and mental health, and wellbeing

A happy and fulfilling retirement isn’t just about your super balance. Overall health plays an important role too.

‘A person’s physical and mental health are extremely strong predictors of retirement confidence,’ Ghafoori says. ‘Healthier individuals have a better retirement experience and have a more positive attitude toward retirement. Even with money and friends, without a healthy body and mind it may be difficult to enjoy retirement.’

Stay connected socially 

Mental health is linked to social connectedness.

‘People who feel connected with families, friends and the wider community are more confident about their retirement,’ says Ghafoori.

‘I believe the significance of social connectedness in the level of confidence is understated, because social connectedness also influences your mental health.’

‘When you transition to retirement, there are natural changes to how you’re connected to people. Your social and work-related connections change, and so do friendship connections. This is because you’ll have different time schedules and commitments once you retire, which can all impact on the way you interact with people,’ says Ghafoori.

You only experience the negative effects of not adapting well once you’re in retirement. To maintain a strong social network, consider things such as:

  • Volunteering in your local community
  • Joining social and hobby groups
  • Taking lessons or classes to learn new skills.

These are excellent ways to help you become more connected.


*Personal financial product advice is provided under the Australian Financial Services License held by a third party and not by AustralianSuper Pty Ltd. Some personal advice may attract a fee, which would be outlined before any work is completed and is subject to your agreement. With your approval, the fee for advice relating to your AustralianSuper account(s) can be deducted from your AustralianSuper account.


1. Retirement Confidence Index report (PDF)

This may include general financial advice which doesn’t take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before making a decision consider if the information is right for you and read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement, available at or by calling 1300 300 273. A Target Market Determination (TMD) is a document that outlines the target market a product has been designed for. Find the TMDs at

AustralianSuper Pty Ltd ABN 94 006 457 987, AFSL 233788, Trustee of AustralianSuper ABN 65 714 394 898.


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