Many older adults spend time planning for their financial future after they retire, but few think about what they will do with their new leisure time. For many retirees, this lack of planning results in disappointment. Experts advise to prepare ahead of time for the rest of your life.
While many people spend years trying to ensure that their financial future is secure after they retire, few make plans for their new leisure time. When you are in a 9-to-5 work grind with never enough time for household chores, let alone for fun activities, the idea of unlimited time—sleeping late, getting up when you want and pursuing your interests—sounds appealing. However, for many the reality is less pleasant.
Identities Tied to Work
He and his co-authors, Dr. Louis Primavera and Rip Roach, conducted their own surveys of what happens if you retire without planning appropriately:
The problem is that many of us don’t realize how much of our identity is tied to our work life—defining and often validating who we are while providing structure and social networks. For many people, our friendships stem from work, and the friendships often don’t survive after retirement. That means retirees need to not only create new social networks and structure in their life, but even more difficult, a new identity.
- Only half of retirees felt their lives improved after retiring.
- Nearly half of those retired five-plus years didn’t find something to be passionate about.
- As workplace friendships fade, you may not replace them.
- You’ll spend less time socializing in retirement than while you were working.
- Like 45 percent of retirees, you may miss your old job.
Retirement is a new life stage, one that needs psychological adjustments. That's why you need to invest as much if not more time in your “lifestyle” portfolio planning as your financial arrangements, to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life—what makes you happy.
- In The Retirement Maze, the authors advise retirees to:
- Put back structure, purpose and direction. This means planning and goal-setting, whether for small everyday matters like taking a shower every morning or big goals like taking on a volunteer job. Establish routines and stick to a schedule.
- Manage expectations. While having high expectations can lead to depression, doing nothing can be stressful, especially for couples. Plan and discuss with your partner how you can fill your new free time.
- Stay socially connected. Humans need to be part of a community. Call up an old friend or join groups to make new friends. Don’t limit your social life to your family.
- Keep searching and experimenting. If your first stab at retirement doesn’t work out, try something else—a different fun activity or volunteer opportunity, for example.
- Have a major life purpose.
- Be open to learning new things.
- Accept that money will buy style and comfort, but it won't buy you happiness.
- Learn how to enjoy solitude.
- Find a retirement job that you can work at temporarily as a fun job.
- Maintain old friendships and create new friends.
- Indulge in regular strenuous exercise so that you will be physically fit and able to enjoy your retirement activities.
- Travel a lot.
“When retiring, you have to find a new normal,” Nov. 11, 2015, Dallas Morning News
“After Retirement, Anxiety and Depression,” Retirement Online
“Save Yourself From a Depressing Retirement,” June 15, 2015, Forbes
“Retiring minds want to know,” January 2014 (vol. 45, no. 1), American Psychological Association
“Having trouble adjusting to retirement?,” Oct. 25, 2012, Brighter Life
“Top 10 Tips for Adjusting to Retirement,” How Stuff Works
“How to Retire Happy,” Retirement Café
“How to Retire Happy,” September 2014, AARP
Plan Ahead for a Happy Retirement was featured in the December 2015 Senior Spirit Newsletter.
Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors