Retirement. . .
Some of us are planning on a retirement, some of us have arrived. Just what does retirement mean?
Many of us spend years picturing our ideal retirement—whether it’s traveling the world, spending more time with family and friends, pursuing hobbies such as painting, gardening, cooking, playing golf, or fishing, or simply enjoying the freedom to relax and take it easy for a change. But while we tend to give lots of thought to planning for the financial aspects of retirement, we often overlook the psychological impact of retiring from work.
Whatever your circumstances, ending your working life changes things—some for the better, others in unexpected or even difficult ways. If your job was physically draining, unfulfilling, or left you feeling burned out, for example, retiring can feel like a great burden has been lifted. But if you enjoyed your work, found it gratifying, and built your social life around your career, retirement can present sterner challenges. Things can be especially tough if you made sacrifices in your personal or family life for the sake of your job, were forced to retire before you felt ready, or have health issues that limit what you’re now able to do.
Similarly, your outlook on life can also influence how well you handle the transition from work to retirement. If you tend to have a positive, optimistic viewpoint, you’ll likely handle the change better than if you’re prone to worrying or struggle to cope with uncertainty in life.
Find New Purpose – For many of us, working is about more than just earning money; it also adds meaning and purpose to our lives. Your job can make you feel needed, productive, and useful, provide goals, or simply give you a reason to get out of the house every day. Having purpose in life also fulfills some biological needs, helping to keep your brain and immune system healthy.
After retirement, it’s important to look for new sources of meaning—activities that add joy and enrich your life. In this respect, it can help if you’re not just retiring from something, but to something as well—whether that’s a fulfilling hobby, a volunteer position, or continuing education, for example.
Retirement may not have to be all-or-nothing. Many people find that it can help to gradually transition into full-time retirement rather than jump right in. If your job allows, you could take a sabbatical or extended vacation to recharge your batteries and see how you deal with the slower pace of life. You can also use the time to gauge how well you can live on the budget you’ve allocated for retirement.
Find part-time work after retirement. Another way to make retirement more of a gradual transition is to incrementally reduce the hours you work in your existing job, switch to a part-time job, or work for yourself in some capacity. As well as providing purpose, part-time employment can also supplement your income, keep you socially engaged, and ease the adjustment to retirement without you having to endure the demands of full-time work.
Volunteer. Donating your time and effort to a cause that’s important to you can add meaning and a sense of accomplishment to your retirement life, as well as benefit your community. Volunteering can help expand your social network, boost your self-worth, and improve your health. It can also be a great opportunity to pass on some of the skills you’ve learned during your professional life—or learn new skills, keeping your brain active as you age.
Regardless of where you are with retirement or plans to retire remember the importance of adding structure to your days. There’s comfort in routine. While you may not miss your morning commute, you may miss the daily routine of eating lunch at a certain time or chatting with colleagues during a coffee break. Even if you’re still figuring out what you want to do with your retirement, try to establish a loose daily schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, allow yourself to linger over breakfast or to read the newspaper, for example, but schedule times for exercising and socializing with friends.
Peace and Love, Jim