Why should you utilise a holistic approach to retirement planning?

Recent research in retirement planning has identified several domains of resources that are vital to retirement wellbeing:

  • Physical and financial – Examples of physical resources include perceived health, a lack of disability and high energy levels. Financial resources include post-retirement income and a sense of income adequacy for maintaining one’s desired lifestyle.
  • Social – This refers to sources and quality of social interactions and type of social support (valued relationships and activities).
  • Emotional, cognitive, and motivational - Positive emotions and emotional intelligence are emotional resources which impact retirement wellbeing through stress coping. Normal cognitive functioning, self-esteem, mastery, and optimism are cognitive resources vital for adjustment. Finally, tenacious goal pursuit and flexible goal adjustment are two strategies considered useful in helping retirees adapt to changes and manage their goals effectively.

To our original model we added “Career”. This was because we realised over time the importance of workplace exit. Leave too early and you might get bored or run out of money. Leave too late or with compromised health and you might miss out on achieving all the things you hoped. This is supported by data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics that shows (a) over 100,000 people leave work to retire and then try to re-enter when they are bored or run out of money (b) health consistently in the top three reasons people leave work over successive waves of the Retirement Intentions survey.

Though some resources are more important than others (i.e., physical, and financial resources are the strongest predictors), other resource types should also be atended to maximise retirement wellbeing.

The fact that all these resource types predict retirement wellbeing urges a multidimensional approach to be considered for retirement planning.

What we offer

Our program addresses this through two retirement planning resources:

  1. Retirement quiz (also referred to as the Retirement Resources Inventory) – this is a 35-item self-report psychometric tool that assesses the above-mentioned resource types relevant to retirement wellbeing. The quiz was extensively evaluated in a sample of 267 Australian retirees aged 50 years or above. The quiz has demonstrated good internal consistency, testretest reliability, concurrent validity, and predictive validity. Users are given immediate feedback upon completion. For more details on the underlying research, please see the article by Leung & Earl (2012) on the publications page.
  2. eTraining course – this consists of 3 modules which helps individuals reflect on important issues relating to their preparation for retirement. It covers three key topics:
    1. Career – this module covers when and why do individuals want to leave work. In addition to this, individuals are asked to contemplate what to do with the extra hours in the day when members no longer have to work and are in the retirement stage. In completing this exercise, users have a beter picture of what their retirement life looks like which informs the income and spending required in that stage of life.
    2. Health – this module provides users with basic health knowledge relating to aging: monitoring across the lifespan, chronic disease, dementia, drinking, mental health, common health illnesses including stroke and heart atack. The takeaway from the module is: will your health go the distance allowing you to leave work when you want?
    3. Finance – this module equips users with basic, useful financial knowledge from which they can build upon when planning for their retirement. The retirement income system is complex, and information is fragmented making it difficult for consumers to understand and make informed decisions about their finances. This module curates a variety of resources into one location and information is presented in a way that is easily digestible and invites the user to consider their own personal circumstances. The takeaway from this module is: what should you consider in funding the lifestyle you want?

The course was developed and fully evaluated with an Australian based sample of more than 800 people over the past 3 years with the aim to improve retirement planning and optimise the timing of workplace exit. These modules are evidence-based and developed by a team combining expertise in organisational psychology, medicine, and finance. For more details on the underlying research, please see the article by Mooney, Earl, Gerrans, Wijeratne and Mooney (2023) on the publications page.

Who should use this program?

We recommend our program to anyone who is interested in exploring and reflecting on important questions relating to retirement at any age but likely 45 years and over. We also recommend these modules to financial or career advisers who work with this group of individuals going through major life transitions. The modules can be a source of holistic information to be provided as pre-work to help formulate questions and open discussions with planning professionals.

Why should you invest in this program?

  • Our program is evidenced-based (see the Timeline below for the history of our research) and extensively evaluated in the Australian population.
  • Our program is cost-effective (the quiz is free!).
  • The program can be used as pre-work with planning professionals.
  • The quiz provides personalised results instantaneously.
  • The information in the eTraining course is obtained from independent, trustworthy sources (e.g., academic literature, government sites) to minimise bias.
  • The eTraining course is user-friendly and is designed to engage and stimulate thinking with easy-to-follow content, interactive psychoeducational material, and exercises.
  • The eTraining course is self-paced so users can learn in their own time and schedule.
  • The eTraining course is rated highly by our users. See the Testimonials section below for user feedback.
  • The eTraining course was developed with the funding support of an Australian Research Council Linkage Program and Allianz Retire+. It was designed as a resource for people contemplating retirement or interested in exploring retirement options to help with their planning. Your support helps us to keep the modules updated and develop new content that reflects current issues relevant to retirement.


Career Module (Rated 4.4/5)

  • Very informative module. So many things to think about that I hadn't even considered!
  • This has given me great insight as to whether I am really ready for retirement or not
  • Thought this was excellent, cannot wait for next module.

Health Module (Rated 4.2/5)

  • Fantastic. Easy to navigate and full of interesting and helpful information.
  • Great interactive modules and information links to tests and good websites.
  • Excellent information - well done!!

Finance Module (Rated 4.3/5)

  • Fantastic!!!! Full of helpful information and food for thought.
  • This should be provided to every employee. I wish I had been given this information about 15 years ago, so I could have better planned for retirement.
  • Amazing - so much to take in and so much to learn and reflect on. Very helpful and insightful - well done to all who have put this together - outstanding


2024 The eTraining course is officially launched to the public

Final version of eTraining course tested in a randomised control trial with more than 800 Australian participants. This study demonstrated that,the course, by itself, was effective in promoting positive retirement perceptions and behaviours. The course paired with consultations, however, were the most effective in helping older workers make more considered decisions about retirement (this has important implications for planning professionals).

Mooney, A., Earl. J. K., Gerrans, P., Wijeratne, C., & Mooney, C. (2023). Integrating career, health, and finance in holistic planning interventions for Australian older workers. Work, Aging and Retirement,


Fourth set of online training modules with a time perspective theoretical framework was tested with self-classified retirees.

Mooney, A., Tsotsoros, C. E., Earl, J. K., Hershey, D. A., & Mooney, C.H. (2021). Enhancing planning behavior during retirement: Effects of a time perspective based training intervention. Social Sciences, 10, 306.

Third set of online training modules consisting of four resource-based modules was tested with Australian late-career medical practitioners.

Mooney, A., Wijeratne, C., Earl, J. K., & Gordon, J. (2021). Practise till you drop: Trialing an online intervention for late-career medical practitioners to promote planning for retirement. Internet Interventions, 26, 100452.


Second set of online training modules tested with fully and partially retired participants.

Earl, J. K., & Burbury, B. (2019). Trialing an online intervention to improve retirement planning goal seting and goal specificity. Clinical Interventions in Aging, 14, 419–425.


Delaying retirement by doctors may be related to the primacy of work compared with other life roles (this informs the current career module which covers work centrality).

Wijeratne, C., Earl, J.K., Peisah, C., Luscombe, G.M., & Tibbertsma, J. (2017). Professional and psychosocial factors affecting the intention to retire of Australian medical practitioners. The Medical Journal of Australia, 206 (5), 209-214.


First set of online training modules tested with Australian retirees.

Earl, J. K., Muratore, A., Leung, C., & Yu, T. W. (2015). Career interventions: Retirement. In P. J. Hartung, M. L. Savickas, & W. B. Walsh (Eds.), APA handbook of career intervention, Vol. 2. Applications (pp. 535–548). American Psychological Association.

Retirement planning supports individuals to accumulate essential resources compared to those who do not plan

Muratore, A. M., & Earl, J. K. (2015). Improving retirement outcomes: The role of resources, pre-retirement planning and transition characteristics. Ageing and Society, 35, 2100–2140.

Evidence examining the influence time perspective on retirement planning

Earl, J. K., Bednall, T. C., & Muratore, A. M. (2015). A mater of time: Why some people plan for retirement and others do not. Work, Aging and Retirement, 1(2), 181–189.

Evidence supporting the importance of leisure activities for retirement adjustment

Earl, Gerrans, P. & Halim, V. (2015). Active and Adjusted to Retirement: Investigating the Contribution of Leisure, Health and Psychosocial Factors to Retirement Adjustment. Leisure Sciences, 37 (4), 354-372.


Retirement Resources Inventory established

Leung C.S.Y., Earl J.K. (2012). Retirement Resources Inventory: Construction, factor structure and psychometric properties. Journal of Vocational Behavior.


Retirement Planning Behaviours Questionnaire established

Muratore, A. M., & Earl, J. K. (2010). Predicting retirement preparation through the design of a new measure. Australian Psychologist, 45(2), 98–111.

The holistic model to retirement extended to include mastery

Donaldson, T., Earl, J. K., & Muratore, A. M. (2010). Extending the integrated model of retirement adjustment: Incorporating mastery and retirement planning. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 77(2),279–289.


Evidence supporting a more holistic approach to retirement research, theory, and practice

Wong J.Y., Earl J.K. (2009). Towards an integrated model of individual, psychosocial, and organizational predictors of retirement adjustment. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 75(1), 1-13.