Couple sitting and looking at the ocean

How Mindset for Life is transforming retirement experiences across Australia

In 2017, TACSI, Think Human, Port Adelaide Enfield Council and older people themselves co-designed a peer-based retirement transition program called Mindset for Life. Four years on, the program has been refreshed and updated based on the feedback of over 100 participants, in partnership with a co-design team of former participants.

Melanie Lambert, Director of Think Human & co-developer of the Mindset for Life program

What is Mindset for Life?

While most retirement planning focuses on the financial aspects of leaving the paid workforce, many people struggle to navigate the emotional, psychological and social changes associated with this life transition. Mindset for Life is a peer group program designed to help people design their own retirement for both pleasure and purpose.

“I had really enjoyed the ‘honeymoon’ period and had enjoyed more freedom but was at the stage where I felt I needed something more,” says Meredith, a recent retiree and one of the program participants.

Over three three-hour sessions, the program guides participants through a series of discussions, activities and expert input via video to reframe retirement and equips them with a ‘kitbag’ of self-reflection tools and resources to use throughout the years ahead. New for 2021, we are also offering a ‘Lite’ version, delivered in one 3-hour session.

The Mindset for Life program encourages people to consider their mindset, wellbeing, social networks and habits as they move into retirement and draws on techniques from narrative therapy and behaviour design to give people practical tools to make positive changes.

What difference does it make?

In our recent end-of-grant evaluation, 100% of respondents reported being more aware of their wellbeing as a result of the program, with 86% seeing a positive improvement after participating, and 98% continuing to take steps to maintain their wellbeing.

86% also said they felt more confident to make decisions as a result of participation, with 74% feeling they are now more able to adapt to change.

91% reported making positive changes in life as a result of the program with the most common changes being experimenting with new activities, making active changes to their social life or increasing their physical activity.

While many people complete the program and move on, everyone has the opportunity to join the network – an informal way for people to continue connecting and encouraging each other on their journey through later life. For those who do, the main value they report is the ongoing exposure to new ideas, the social connection and the positive challenge to their mindset.

It provides two important things: a useful framework to think about retirement, and plan – and also (but just as importantly) you realise other people are in much the same situation as you are.

Terry, program participant

People having lunch

What makes it different from other retirement programs?

Mindset for Life has some key points of difference from other programs in the retirement transition market, which we believe make it unique. 

  • Every aspect of the program is co-designed with people who are navigating retirement themselves, with sessions co-convened by peers
  • It offers ‘wraparound’ retirement support, accessible pre- and post-retirement
  • Participants get access to an ongoing network of peers who meet virtually and in-person on a regular basis

This course in hindsight may just be a lifebuoy to some participants.

Rosemary, program participant

Who runs Mindset for Life?

Originally co-designed with funding from SA Health’s Office for Ageing Well as a partnership between TACSI, Think Human and the City of Port Adelaide Enfield, at the end of 2017 Think Human took on sole leadership to develop and build the program content and reach.  

Think Human and its team of peer convenors has partnered with local government and employers to deliver the program to over 250 people in the last three years.

Think Human can run the program for local communities via agencies such as local councils, or for staff who are approaching retirement via their employers. Most local councils work with Think Human to build their internal capacity to run the program themselves, recruiting a local team of volunteer peer convenors to guide the sessions while councils take responsibility for the management and implementation of the program. 

“We see this program as an important tool in helping people with one of the challenges they face in older life and if people can have a smoother retirement transition that will be a positive thing for both them and the community as a whole,” says Jim Binder, Coordinator of Wellbeing Programs for the City of Salisbury.

Where is Mindset for Life available in Australia?

When Covid hit in 2020, a rapid co-design process enabled the full program to be adapted for online delivery. As a result, people in NSW, WA, TAS and New Zealand have also been able to benefit from the program in the last 12 months. Think Human can tailor program delivery to local needs, either fully online, in person (border restrictions permitting) or a hybrid version. 

In late 2020, a co-design team refreshed the program content based on ongoing testing. This new updated version, along with a single-session ‘lite’ version, both launched in August 2021.

For more information on running the program for your staff or local community, visit the Mindset for Life website, or get in touch with Melanie Lambert, Director of Think Human & co-developer of the Mindset for Life program, at melanie@thinkhuman.com.au.