The 5 most difficult things about retirement that you may not have anticipated.
Updated: Oct 16, 2019
Are you ready for the 3rd stage of your life? Transitioning from work to retirement can be a very difficult change to make, for some people. With improvements in health care and lifestyle it is possible that many of us Baby Boomers will spend 30 years or more in this phase of our life. While most people will have some sort of financial plan, very few will have made a retirement plan. Have you really thought about how you will spend your retirement?
Two questions that are often at the front of the mind of a soon -to- be- retiree are: “Can I afford to retire?” “Will I be healthy enough to enjoy it?” It probably won’t surprise you, when I tell you that research shows that people who can answer those questions positively, are more likely to be happy in retirement. That’s what we all want right? We want to be healthy and have enough money to enjoy our retirement. But sometimes we forget that there are other, important questions to be asking ourselves and factors to consider.
1. Loss of Identity
Ask yourself this question;
Is your work what you do, or is your work who you are?
If your answer to this question is that your work is who you are, then you may struggle with identity after you retire. Not long after you have retired, you realise that a large part of your identity was associated with your work. You don’t know what to say when people ask you what you do? You don’t know who you are now that you no longer have that role to play. You seem to have lost your identity.
So if your work is who you are, why not create a second identity? Have you thought about how you could this?
You have got so much free time on your hands that you don’t know what to do.
If you are like a lot of people you will have spent the last 5 (or even 10) years of your working life dreaming about your retirement. You will anticipate all the time you will have to do all the things you don’t have time for while working. Retirement, of course, will offer you the time you need to travel or learn a language or take up a new hobby, or read all the books you have sitting unread on your bookshelf (or is that only me?) But what if finances are tight and you don’t have enough money to do all the travel you had been dreaming of? Perhaps you can’t afford to pay to attend classes regularly.
Will you get bored when life is less structured? How will you fill your time in a meaningful way in retirement?
3. Adapting to a different routine or no routine
Are you one of the many people who dream of the day when you don’t have to be ruled by the clock? You can wake up when you like. You won’t have to follow the same morning routines day in and day out. You won’t have to sit in the same traffic jams or on the same bus or train every day. You will be free to do what you want, when you want and that is certainly one of the most attractive features of retirement for me. But have you thought about how structured or spontaneous you would like your retirement to be?
Are you someone who needs to have a routine and plans or do you prefer the freedom of being spontaneous and taking off on holiday at short notice? What will you do to establish a routine?
4. Lack of social contact
You miss the social contact that came with your job. Some people socialise with their work colleagues but find that once they have left the workforce they become excluded from impromptu social get - togethers. Even though you may not have met your colleagues socially outside of work, work provides an opportunity for incidental social interaction at break times, at meetings or just social chit chat during the course of a day.
When you are retired what will you do to continue to have social contact?
5. Loss of purpose
Just like identity, we usually get our sense of purpose and meaning from our work. While we are working we look forward to a life of less responsibility and commitment in our retirement. But what we may not realise is that it is the responsibility and commitment that give us purpose and meaning. When we retire we miss that sense of purpose and if we do not find another activity that gives us purpose and meaning we end up feeling unfulfilled and unhappy. The good news is that there are many ways to maintain our sense of purpose in retirement, although they may not be immediately obvious. Finding something that suits you, may need some self reflection and guidance.
What will you do to maintain a sense of purpose in retirement?
Many people, of course, reach retirement age but can’t afford to retire so that they continue working out of necessity. Others may choose to continue working part time to help to meet some of the needs mentioned above and also pay the bills. There are now also a growing number of people choosing to begin a business, do some freelance or consulting work or even start an encore career. This is an interesting topic and will be the subject of a future blog.
There is no such thing as a standard or ‘normal’ retirement because everyone is different and has different circumstances, needs and goals. But we all should carefully consider our expectations for our retirement and make a retirement plan to help us have the best retirement we can. Do you know that most people spend more time planning their next holiday than they do planning their retirement?
You can start to think about your retirement plans by answering the questions I have asked at the end of each section. If you need more help or for more information contact me to find out how a retirement coach can help you.
Would you like more about a 90 minute Power Career Coaching Course I am running as a Special offer? It would help you get clear about either career change or transition to retirement. You can find the details here.