Retirement offers the perfect chance to reinvent your life Business

Q: How do you know when it’s a good time to retire? I’m “of age” and have the savings to fulfill most of my post-retirement dreams (so money isn’t an issue), but I just can’t bring myself to quit my job, which I’ve been doing for over 30 years.

A: When I was in my twenties I didn’t really understand why we were running retirement classes, but in recent years I recognize that retirement is like embarking on a whole new career, a major change that should not be underestimated.

Until a few years ago, the decision to retire was made on your behalf. Men retired at 65, women at 60, and many bank managers started playing golf three times a week at age 55. When the big day arrived, your closest colleagues gathered for a retreat presentation, lunch or dinner and after a few moving speeches, the appropriate gift of a strimmer, golf bag or some vouchers trip was postponed. You’ve said goodbye to the company credit card and can’t wait to live out your dreams by spending your pension and some of your savings.

But since 2011, employers can no longer force you to retire. In theory, the decision is yours and I can understand why you have such a hard time deciding.

The correct answer will vary from person to person. For some, early retirement offers the perfect chance to pursue a lifetime ambition, embark on a second career, or live a life of leisure. For others, retirement can extinguish the burning purpose that has made life so interesting.

If you’re so in love with your job, stick to it. But when retirement finally arrives, fill your diary with travel, friends and hobbies. It doesn’t have to be golf – bocce, a choir, bridge and the local rambling club can work just as well.

Last month, one of our oldest colleagues decided to retire. Perry Watkins has done a most incredible job for our company as Director of Operations for Timpson Stores, responsible for approximately 2,500 colleagues who run our core business of key cutting, watch repair and shoe repair.

I first met Perry in Aylesbury where he was a young cobbler in a run down shop that we had just taken over from a competitor. Perry was 18 and left no hint that I was talking to the man who would play a crucial role in our future. Within a year he was running a boutique and at 25 he became our youngest area manager.

He has shown incredible talent in finding people with the right personality to take care of our customers and in selecting the most suitable people to be part of our area management team. Thanks to Perry, we haven’t had to hire a field manager from elsewhere in over 25 years. Perry was responsible for running the business as it grew from 350 to 1,350 stores.

But, while all of this was going on, Perry was also very busy in his spare time – pursuing a hobby that, more than once, landed him in the Guinness World Records. The first time we heard about his talent for model building was when he built a remote-controlled vehicle called Mr Nasty that appeared on the TV show Robot Wars. After that, Perry began building extraordinary roadworthy vehicles, including the lowest and smallest cars in the world as well as the fastest piece of furniture – a bed that can reach 140 mph.

So when Perry decided to retire at the age of 60, we knew he would have plenty to do. His timing was perfect. Day-to-day management in our type of business is pretty hectic – a life spent on the road, visiting every store and tackling an endless list of day-to-day issues, pressures that come with age. Perry is retiring at the top of his game after helping the company navigate the pandemic and with plenty of energy to pursue his unique hobby and enjoy the vacation he has planned with his wife Angie.

When it comes to finding the right time to retire, Perry has found his perfect answer. He chose the time when he could pass the baton to the next generation, leave a remarkable legacy, and still have the fitness and enthusiasm to pursue an exciting hobby.

But beware, life can be full of surprises. Your job has probably produced a lot of ups and downs, so expect retirement to bring some unexpected twists and turns. Whatever you decide, the retreat is unlikely to go exactly as planned.

Sir John Timpson is chairman of high street service provider, Timpson.

Send him a question at and read more answers from his Ask John column here

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This notice was published: 2022-04-10 12:00:00

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