Adjusting to Retirement
You have to be kidding! Why would anyone have to adjust to retirement? How can not going to work and finally having time to do the things you’ve always wanted to do be “difficult?” Yet, as with any major changes, retirement can be an exciting time filled with new opportunities and challenges, or it can be a painful transition that brings lack of purpose and discouragement. Factors that could influence your adjustment to retirement include:
Lack of financial security can impact the success and enjoyment of your retirement experience. However, being wealthy is not required in order to be happy in retirement.
Having a serious health problem can significantly influence one’s decision to retire and ability to enjoy it. Similarly, adults in excellent health may retire early in order to travel or pursue other interests before any health problems occur.
Being married has been shown to contribute to greater retirement satisfaction and successful adjustment for both men and women.Factors that influence the couple’s retirement experience include:
- The couple’s attitude toward increased “togetherness.”
- The way the couple handles finances.
- How the couple manages unstructured time.
Phases of Adjustment to Retirement
Phase 1: I'm not Working and I'm not on Vacation
For the first few days, perhaps weeks, it may seem as if you are on vacation, particularly if you travel to see friends or relatives or visit an interesting place.
Phase 2: Disenchantment
Following the initial period, there may be a time of disappointment and uncertainty. You may miss the feelings of workplace productivity. Disenchantment can also occur if there is a disruption in retirement, such as the death of a spouse or an undesired move.
Phase 3: Reality Sets In
You are retired and now, for the first time, you feel entirely responsible for your life and destiny. When this realization hits, you may feel any combination of exhilaration, joy, sadness, or panic.
Phase 4: Getting on with your Life
After a time, it is common for people to explore ways to improve their experience. Once a fulfilling and comfortable retirement is established, this phase can last for many years.
Staying Active, Living Well
To establish a rewarding retirement, it is important to set goals and find activities that provide a sense of purpose and meaning to your days. Here are five guidelines for making a successful transition to life after work:
- View retirement as a journey, not a destination.
- Develop other interests while you are still working.
- Adjust your work pace as retirement nears.
- Take time to adjust after leaving your job.
- Renew and discover relationships on your journey.
Involvement is the Key!
Research has shown that people who stay busy during retirement, with hobbies, active social lives, or even part-time work, live longer and feel better than those who are inactive. Think about the things that made you happy before you retired. Now, look for ways to incorporate those things into your new life.
Stay Physically Active
Studies have shown that people who keep their bodies moving have fewer health problems than those who choose sedentary lifestyles.
Maintain Contact with Others
Although retirement is often viewed with excitement, not everyone realizes how much they enjoyed the daily contact with co-workers. It is important to maintain contact with old friends as well as make new friends in retirement.
Use a Weekly Planner
Establish a weekly planner and list the various activities, projects, and friendships that you would like to pursue. Come up with a schedule for your days as though you had a job, setting aside time for writing, reading, exercise, pursuing interests, and spending time with family and friends. Use a check-off system of what you do each day, thus encouraging you to remain active and giving you the opportunity to feel good about your achievements.
Give of Yourself
Many retirees have discovered that volunteering provides an excellent outlet for the skills and passions they have spent a lifetime developing. Do some volunteer work where your services will be appreciated.
Just Keep Working
A lot of people don’t retire abruptly. Rather, they retire from a 40-hour work week to a shorter schedule. If you enjoy your job, why not keep doing it, or find another job of interest to you?
Focus on Your Hobbies
One of the best aspects of retirement is finally having time to do all the things you dreamed of doing, like reading, crafts, or completing a collection. If you did not have hobbies, retirement provides the opportunity to find some.
Have a Pet
Studies show that pet owners are happier, less subject to depression, and do difficult tasks more easily when accompanied by a pet. Pet owners also get more exercise and find it more enjoyable.
Plan a Thoughtful Retirement
When planning for retirement, it is important to think about how you intend to handle the loss of your role as an employee. Retirement is a stage of life that could, for some, last for 20 years or more. Take some time to think about your own retirement experience and how you plan to fill the years that you have earned so well!
Retirement is often viewed as an “event”, when retirement is actually both a process (requiring planning and adjustment) and a life stage (lasting for multiple years). Until now, you have been finishing projects at work, dealing with your financial advisor, and saying goodbye to co-workers. It has been a time of reflection and looking back on a career in your chosen field.