Adjusting To Retirement
Now That You Can Do Whatever You Want,
What Do You Want To Do?
Retirement is a major life event. It signifies the end of one phase of life and the beginning of a new one. As with any major life change, retirement brings its share of mental and emotional turmoil. Depending on how you deal with it, retirement can be an exciting time filled with new opportunities and challenges or it can be a painful transition that brings boredom, lack of purpose and discouragement.
Due to earlier retirements and longer life expectancies, the length of a typical retirement now spans several decades. While this is a significant and exciting phase of life, it requires preparation, planning, goal setting and time management in order to be enjoyable. Adjusting to the new rhythm and reality of retirement requires a great deal of soul searching, re-direction & re-tooling.
Some people naively believe that retirement will take care of itself. Other than doing some financial planning, many people seem oblivious to the lifestyle preparation that needs to be done.
Retirement is very similar to career path development after graduation from high school and/or entering college. It’s a new phase of life with many unanswered questions but, with some advance planning & thought, it can be very liberating and exciting. If you are willing to adjust and keep your mind open to new ideas, retirement is full of opportunities.
For your entire life, you have ascribed to the admirable discipline of “work ethic”. Your daily activities (from grade school through retirement) have been focused on working toward accomplishing a set of goals and meeting deadlines. The structure of your life has been built around your occupation (work or school). To a certain extent, your daily schedule has been set, and determined, by others. While you were working, you probably longed for the freedom to be able to determine your own schedule or to determine your own destiny.
Well, on the day that you retire:
- Your boss will be gone.
- The deadlines will be gone.
- You will be in charge.
- And every day you will have an EXTRA eight hours to fill.
- So, what do you plan to do for the next several decades?
To enjoy a satisfying retirement, you need to incorporate a work ethic attitude into your retirement lifestyle.
- You need structure.
- You need a schedule.
- You need goals.
- And you need deadlines.
The workplace provides much more than a paycheck. It’s the environment where people tend to make many of their friends.
Consequently as you approach retirement, you must make conscious efforts toward expanding your social network and making new friends outside of the workplace. Despite everyone’s best intentions, friendships based in the workplace often fade once you are outside that environment. Without the daily routine and social contact of the workplace, new retirees often find themselves feeling alone and disengaged from their usual social circle. If you don’t make appropriate adjustments, you may find yourself becoming more and more isolated and alone.
Identity & Self Esteem
This is an issue that many retirees fail to fully grasp until AFTER they are retired. Your occupation or profession constitutes a major portion of your identity and many people feel a loss of self-worth once they stop working.
Just before retirement, you were probably a senior member of your company. You were the experienced veteran on the job. You may have even had a prestigious title, but once you retire, the workplace stature and “the title” disappear.
You need to replace the challenges and accomplishments of the workplace with new challenges. Many retirees “retire into” a similar job, a new career, educational pursuits or volunteer work as their new arena to accomplish something meaningful. Your self esteem needs an answer to the cocktail party question, “What do you do?”
In addition to providing direction and purpose, these new occupations will also expand your social networking opportunities.
Physical Fitness & Health
Use it or lose it. A sedentary lifestyle of sitting on the sofa reading, or watching TV, should not be the core of your retirement activities.
Regular exercise and attention to nutrition must be integrated into your retirement plan. Exercise & proper nutrition are essential to reducing the risk of health problems. Join a gym, walk regularly, play tennis, golf, ride a bicycle, etc. In addition, these necessary physical activities add another important social element to your weekly routine.
Remember, there is no right or wrong way to spend your retirement.
What you do depends on your own personal wants and needs. While it is always a good idea to plan, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Plan several different activities and projects, and don’t be afraid to seize new opportunities as they come along.
Finally, be patient with family, friends and yourself. Retirement is a major lifestyle change and it will take awhile to adjust. Relax, keep a positive attitude and fully enjoy this new phase.
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