After working many years with patients, friends, and customers, I observed that each underwent a period of stress as his or her retirement became imminent. In each, a common thread caused anxiety and concern.
After working many years with patients, friends, and customers, I observed that each underwent a period of stress as his or her retirement became imminent. In each, a common thread caused anxiety and concern. Each approached retirement as they would a fantasy of sorts. The fantasy took on the resemblance of an extended vacation instead of a significant life transition. Unfortunately, the media has helped perpetuate this picture by showing in commercial after commercial a lavish lifestyle full of fun and adventure. Since the average person has no other reality to compare the retirement experience, it is natural to magnify pleasure over substance and create that fantasy expectation. Most people at first see retirement as a grand holiday; however, they soon discover their holiday is short-lived. They discover retirement is a new life experience. They grapple with a developing reality of this experience and need to find value and purpose for the rest of their lives. Those who develop these qualities are the ones who make the transition seem smooth and natural. What kind of success thoughts can help create a less stressful transition to retirement? 1. Do not make any significant life changes during the 1st year of retirement. Making a hasty decision could bring about not only stress but a sense of foreboding of a future without choice. 3. Celebrate life and the gift of retirement years. Schedule a trip to honor retirement. Gather with friends, immediate family, or go places you always dreamed of seeing in person. 2. Relax and enjoy any new found freedom by exploring new ideas and new experiences. However, do not make any fast or rash decisions. Don’t alter what has been a successful lifestyle. 4. Use this time of transition to honor the adventure of retirement. Realize how lucky you are to be alive and able to spend time (perhaps many years) doing those things you always wanted to do. 5. Monitor spending. Some find retirement as the time to spend money only to find spending causes stress and difficulties in relationships. 6. Create new habits. It may seem like a long time before you need to worry about health and wealth. It’s easy to procrastinate and easy to put off good intentions about living a retirement lifestyle. Do not wait. Start immediately with exercising and eating nutritious meals. By developing these kinds of habits, you will live a longer and healthier life. 7. Allow for quiet time. Don’t start ticking off a bucket list. Allow time for rest and recuperation. Realize it will take time to heal all the years of work once held with pride. 8. Balance activities with intentional downtime. Finish what needs finishing at a pace that will not overwhelm joy and happiness. Retirement is, so learn to be. A friend of mine told me about her sister who lived in a 55+ community. She said, “she spends her time doing instead of being.” Learn to be. You will be happier and live longer.