Late career

Plan 3: The life plan - what do you want to do in the long run

What story would you like to tell about yourself when work at some point takes up less? Men in particular are challenged in their ability to navigate life when their work identity is gone. Here are our tips to start building a bridge to retirement life early.

Disclaimer: This page has been automatically translated. It may contain grammatical inaccuracies, but the content is guaranteed to be correct.

Some people are quite sure how they want to live their lives in the long run. Perhaps they will continue to work as long as they can. Maybe there will finally be time for an all-consuming hobby. Or maybe part-time work, trout fishing, family and friends together make for a beautiful life combination.

But for many, retirement becomes an unforeseen challenge, and they find it difficult to find meaning in life. In the worst case, the joy of freedom is replaced after a year by the onset of loneliness, meaninglessness and depression.

There is much evidence that a gradual transition from full-time work to retirement life is a good model. Changing work tasks, flexible or reduced working hours can be a start. Perhaps followed by a phase of part-time work and then later full retirement. Much research indicates that such a gradual and planned transition provides the greatest satisfaction with life.

For many people, their life structure has always been shaped by work and their habits for when they get up in the morning, spend the weekend and go on holiday.

But work is also where you meet people and create lots of relationships. Despite good intentions, these will unfortunately often disappear when you stop working. And meaningful relationships are one of the most important factors for a good and long life. But they don't come by themselves. That is why IDA has created a new tool to create clarity about one's relationships and what status they have.

Where working life can be seen as a tree with a trunk that gives direction, retired life often looks more like a bush with many smaller branches that bristle in many directions.

The mere thought of retirement can be anxiety-provoking for many. It brings to mind images of worn-out parents or grandparents who were languishing and perhaps suffering from ill health. But in today's work culture, retirement looks brighter for the vast majority, and includes time and the opportunity to cultivate interests and new networks. 

So what can you do? Aske Juul Lassen, who has researched aging at the University of Copenhagen for many years, has the following advice for getting through the loss of meaning that retirement can also bring:

  • Get involved in something new
    This could be, for example, voluntary work, a sports club, a course, etc.
  • Get into new and old communities
    New communities can be cultivated by going to professional events, leisure activities, cultural events, etc. Old communities - it can be, for example, old friends, study mates or colleagues, resuming leisure interests, etc.
  • And, not least, be something for someone,
    e.g. via voluntary work, association with an interest organisation, contributing with one's professionalism and skills in companies/organisations, helping family and friends.
    As a member of IDA, you have many opportunities to get involved in driving IDA's many networks with a focus on both professional and social-cultural topics. Read more about volunteering at IDA.

Think well in advance of your transition to retirement: about what you want to use your new freedom for. It is a good idea to make a plan: what do you want to achieve, when will it happen, what is the success criterion? In other words, consider the same things you have probably gone over many times in your career so far.

Checklist for a life plan

  • How do you dream of living your life?
    Write down what you would like to spend your time on, and also consider whether there is an appropriate order. If your dream is to cycle to the North Cape, then you probably shouldn't wait until you're 80.
  • Cultivate old and especially new relationships. You can stick to your subject, join an exercise bike club, volunteer or get involved in the neighborhood. 
    Most late-career IDA members are men, and unfortunately, men are generally far worse at creating and maintaining relationships than women. But it can actually be learned. It can be a good idea to start by creating an overview of which relationships you have and then to lay out a strategy for what is needed to strengthen them. Here you can use IDA's Relationship Tool.
  • Remember that there is no longer a fixed retirement age. It depends on what you can and want. The official state pension age is just an opportunity to start receiving a pension, but it can easily be postponed.
  • Talk your thoughts through with your partner, family, good colleagues and/or friends. 
    They often want to both inspire and challenge you. And not least, they will ask about your plan once in a while.
  • Consider your home - should you stay put or perhaps downsize or move closer to e.g. children or friends.
  • Do you need to do something extra for both your physical and mental health?
    We can't avoid it - exercise is simply healthy for both body and mind. Professor Bente Klarlund gives good advice for further physical education and encourages finding someone to exercise with.


Here you can get more inspiration

Center for Healthy Aging - good advice based on solid research

Most people in their late career have noticed that both body and mind change. You no longer have quite the same strength and energy levels, and it takes a little longer to recover. Researchers from the Center for Healthy Aging at the University of Copenhagen give good advice on how to have a good, long life and a healthy ageing. 

  • Physical activity
    Physical activity increases the number of years of good functioning, both physically and mentally, and reduces the risk of a wide range of diseases.
  • Good brain food
    Eg sudoku, crosswords, games, books, documentaries, or you can start learning a new language.
  • The best brain habits
    Remember breaks, mental breaks/mindfulness and don't engage in too many activities at once.
  • Get a better sleep
    E.g. no screen right before bed, turn off the phone when you go to bed,
  • Your brain loves fat
    But not cake - eat fish, nuts and use plant-based oil.
  • Social relationships
    Good social relationships keep you going - and remember to keep creating new ones. When you stop working, you will lose relationships that should preferably be replaced with new ones.

Ældresagen - 
When should I retire?
Don't let your prejudices rule you - Ældresagen has a number of really good pages about life as a senior and preparation for retirement. 
Age alone should not be a reason for retirement. It is important, it is you who decides when you want to retire and what the time will be spent on.

Note: Ældresagen's content is in Danish, but you can use automatic translation for an English version. 

7 important things before you retire

The experienced ones

The experienced ones - a large project run by researcher Aske Juul Lassen from the University of Copenhagen, who has investigated what is needed to create better opportunities for senior employees. The website "The experienced" contains, among other things, a number of good tools for both the individual, the managers, the HR department etc.

Life's 3rd act

The 3rd act is the life phase that comes when you start to be called senior and approach retirement. Researcher Aske Juul Lassen from the University of Copenhagen is behind the project, which consists of a book and a podcast series about Pension's 10 commandments:

  1. Prepare yourself
  2. Make the pension your choice
  3. Create a transition
  4. See retirement as an opportunity for something new
  5. Create a new opinion
  6. Don't be intimidated by your own fears
  7. Accept the due date
  8. Get involved
  9. Learn to master time
  10. Learn to relax and enjoy the freedom