Have you prepared for retirement? And I don’t mean just financially. Transitioning from work to retirement can be a very difficult change to make, for some people.
Retirement is different for everybody. The age at which you decide to retire can vary greatly and so can what you want to do next. Pension plans and superannuation rules vary from country to country so everyone’ s circumstances will be different.
In Australia, the official retirement age is 67, although some people will retire earlier, and others continue working for longer. But with improvements in health care and lifestyle it is possible that many retirees 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. Do you know that most people spend more time planning their next holiday than they do planning their retirement?
Have you really thought about how you will spend your retirement?
We all hope 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 before we retire.
Here are the 5 most difficult things about retirement that you may not have anticipated. Having a retirement plan will help alleviate these challenges. The questions will help you think about YOUR plan
1. Loss of Identity
Ask yourself this question,
Is your work what you do, or is your work who you are?
If you are, or have been a teacher, you are likely to say work is who you are. As a teacher, who lives and breathes teaching 24/7 (as many do), your identity will most certainly be tied up with your work. Like most teachers you have probably spent a lot of your time focusing on your career, with whatever was left on your family. Because teaching is so all encompassing it becomes your identity – a teacher is who you are. Does this sound like you?
So, what happens when you are no longer a teacher?
When teaching has been your identity for so long you struggle to imagine yourself doing anything else. You seem to have lost your identity. This is what 2 different retired teachers
told me recently,
I always identified as a teacher. Now that I retired, I’m lost.
I want to retire, but have mixed feelings. Being a teacher has been my identity for so long.
If your work is who you are, why not create a second identity? Have you thought about how you could do this?
How will you spend your time when you are retired?
While working you have spent your time juggling career, family, household chores and other responsibilities. You dream of the time when you can choose how you spend your time, when you won’t have to mark papers in the evenings or plan lessons at the weekend. Your time will be your own and you anticipate all the time you will have to do all the things you don’t have time for while working.
You suddenly find yourself with so much free time on your hands that you don’t know what to do. Without a routine or structure and you are lost.
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. And possibly the biggest freedom for teachers is that you can go to the bathroom when you need to and eat your lunch when you are hungry.
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
Although teachers don’t have a lot of time to enjoy social contact with adults during a typical working day, you will probably still find you miss the social contact.
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 still 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
For teachers, loss of purpose is probably the most difficult aspect of retirement. Just like identity, we usually get our sense of purpose and meaning from our work.
Most teachers enter teaching with a very strong purpose because we want to make a difference in the lives of children. That is what drives us to do the best we can, even in difficult circumstances.
While we are working, and especially when we face unrealistic expectations and a terrible work/life balance 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?
Different types of retirement
There is no such thing as a standard or ‘normal’ retirement because everyone is different and has different circumstances, needs and goals.
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. One option that is becoming more common is to take early retirement from your long-term career and change careers into something completely different. There are now 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 post.
Regardless of our circumstances, we all should carefully consider our expectations for our retirement and make a retirement plan to help us have the best retirement we can.
What can you do now?
You can start to think about your retirement plans by answering the questions I have asked throughout the post and at the end of each section (in bold font). If you need more help or for more information book a complimentary 15-minute zoom meeting to find out how a retirement coach can help you.
I also have available a 90-minute Power Career Coaching Package which will help you get clear about where to go with either a career change or transition to retirement. Would you like to know more about it? You can find the details here.