Having a long and happy retirement involves preparing emotionally and mentally, not just financially …
Most of us dream of the day we will be able to retire; of handshakes from co-workers, congratulations from peers, and pats on the back from friends and family. We can’t wait for the day when we will be able to live happily ever after, pursuing our own interests, with no stress or worry to ruin our well-deserved twilight years.
However, while we may all yearn to obtain retirement status, knowing what to do when the day finally arrives is another kettle of fish.
Preparing for Retirement
While most of us realise we need to prepare financially for retirement, we often overlook that we need to prepare mentally as well.
Retirement is a life transition, similar to leaving school, having children or moving countries. It involves a number of psychological adjustments which may include coping with the loss of your career identity, spending more time with your partner and family, replacing the support networks you had at work, and finding new and interesting ways of staying active.
It is common for highly successful people to feel depressed, alone and useless when they retire – but be too embarrassed to seek help, as the cultural norm is that retirement should be a golden time in life.
Often individuals who have led busy lives developing their careers, raising families or helping others, suddenly feel a debilitating sense of loss and are unsure what to do.
Therefore it is essential to plan for the transition to retirement and work out how you will make the move from the structured, daily routine you had previously, to setting your own agenda for potentially the next 20-30 years!
How Are you Approaching Retirement?
How well we plan for retirement can really make a difference to how much we enjoy it, however there is no “right” way to retire. Dr Schlossberg has recently identified 6 different ways in which people approach retirement:
- Continuers – continue using existing skills and interests;
- Adventurers – start entirely new endeavours;
- Searchers – explore new options through trial and error;
- Easy Gliders – enjoy unscheduled time, letting each day unfold;
- Involved Spectators – care deeply about the world, but engage in less active ways;
- Retreaters – take time out or disengage from life.
Dr Schlossberg also has found that those who report being happiest in their retirement are often those who have the most variety. So, mixing up the above approaches to retirement can be beneficial.
Working out what is important to you and how you really want to spend your retirement, is the most essential step and this requires some thought. As with all life transitions, getting used to a new situation takes time and practice, so don’t worry if you feel lost initially.
Talking with a psychologist about this can be really beneficial in clarifying your options. If you would like to discuss your retirement plans and how to enjoy your new life to the full, please book an appointment today, to help you make sure that retirement really is the beginning of life for you and not the end!
Author: Ashley Cooper, B Psych (Hons), M Psych (Clinical), MAPS.
Ashley Cooper is a registered psychologist with clinical psychology training, working with children, adolescents and adults. She is passionate about helping individuals to overcome their mental health issues and improve their quality of life.
To make an appointment with Ashley Cooper try Online Booking – Mt Gravatt or call (07) 3088 5422.
Schlossberg, N. (2004). Retire Smart, Retire Happy: Finding Your True Path in Life. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.