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The Challenge of Retirement

January 30, 2022 by  
Filed under blog

For those of you that have recently retired, or if you are approaching retirement and doing some planning, there are a few unexpected surprises that might be waiting for you. At least there were for me.

I had looked forward to being retired and having all that extra time to do anything I wanted to like travel, play more tennis, and just have a great time. Well, I must tell you, when that day arrived, I was in for an enormous surprise.

I don’t think most of us realize what a great challenge retirement can be. It didn’t hit me immediately, but after a few months of it, I found myself going stir crazy. I came to realize that we humans need structure and a routine. Without that, we can become very frustrated. I talked to a few friends that had retired a year or so before I did and they told me that the same thing hit them. We all need a reason to get out of bed in the morning and I didn’t have any routine or daily plans to motivate me.

At that point, I began to see how very important things like going to the office and interacting with others were for us humans. I missed the social part of my work life and struggled with feelings of worthlessness because I wasn’t producing anything. We thrive on being productive which helps those around us and lifts our brain and lives to a higher level. Sure, I can travel more and have great fun hanging out with my kids, grandkids, and friends, but we need to be contributing to our lives and the world around us in some way as well.

My advice to everyone is to plan for retirement, not just financially, but in what you will do with your time. Make lists and talk with others that have retired or are heading that way fairly soon to see what, if anything, they are planning. It’s a good idea to look at your life and think about what brings you the greatest pleasure and what stimulates your brain and then see if you can build your retirement around those things.

Patrice Jenkins, PhD, wrote a brilliant book called What Will I Do All Day? Wisdom to Get Over Retirement and on with Living. In the book, she offers some great advice: “Creating meaningful work in retirement provides an opportunity to step out of your comfort zone. If you’d like to, you can redefine yourself — try something new and different… In retirement, you have the freedom to be anything that suits you.”

Even if you are many years away from retirement, it’s not too early to do some thinking and planning now. I think you will be very glad that you did when those retirement days come around.

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