After retirement, many people think longingly about pulling up stakes and moving out of state,…
When thinking about preparing for retirement, many people focus exclusively on the financial aspects – making sure they’ll have enough to live on and meet their expenses. But it’s important to realize that retirement is also a major life transition, and to make it successfully requires psychological as well as financial preparation. Here are three signs you may not be mentally ready for retirement.
1. You lack direction. The prospect of hanging up your work clothes for the last time and taking a permanent vacation may seem appealing. But soon, many people wonder what to do with all that free time.
After working for most of their adult lives, many people’s identities and even self-worth are tied to their professions. When you go from managing a 50-person department to just sitting at home all day, it can be easy to lose a sense of purpose. Men in particular are prone to depression shortly after retirement. Particularly if a corporate restructuring means you have to retire earlier than planned, as over 60% of workers do, it’s natural to feel a loss of self-esteem.
2. You lack a plan for your retired life. You may have saved and invested diligently for retirement, but when the day finally comes, what do you do now? Many people have trouble adjusting to being on their own.
Without the structure and schedule of a regular job, you have to set your own agenda, and arrange all of your own activities. Some people find retirement isn’t as euphoric as they’d envisioned. After the novelty of retired life wears off, you might be left with a sense of letdown. If that continues, it can lead to depression and feelings of worthlessness.
3. You find the prospect of retirement to be daunting. For many people, work provides social contact, a sense of shared purpose, and a way to contribute to society. When you leave the workforce, you leave all that behind. Suddenly giving up your work responsibilities and regular social interactions can leave you feeling lonely, bored, and maybe less of a person.
Whether we’re ready or not, retirement comes at some point for most of us. For the majority, it comes earlier than we’d planned. Here are some ways to make the transition as smooth as possible.
1. Prepare mentally to leave. Preparing for the possibility that you might have to retire can help ease the transition. This means starting to plan your retirement a few years before your actual retirement date, so that you’re ready in case it comes early. Create a new set of goals for your retired life, and arrange a set of activities to keep yourself occupied and fulfilled, whether it’s traveling, rediscovering a long-lost hobby, or helping with the grandchildren. It’s important to think of retirement not as losing something, but gaining something new; not as moving away from work life, but moving toward something equally rewarding.
2. Create a way to maintain your sense of purpose. Although you’re leaving your job, you still have the skills and experience you’ve acquired, and can still be productive and contribute. Many people develop second careers, start consulting or other businesses, or simply engage in parttime or volunteer work that uses their skills in order to maintain their sense of purpose and worth.
3. Take care of your health. Being in good health enables you to fully enjoy retired life and your new activities. It also reduces healthcare costs, which are one of the largest expenses for most retirees.
Retirement is full of possibilities and many people find it to be the happiest part of their lives. It can be exciting but also challenging. Preparing in advance, mentally as well as financially, can go a long way to ensure a happy retirement.