It may not be the same as getting married or becoming a parent, but leaving the workforce is a major, life-changing event.
In our experience, few people are prepared for the swirl of emotions that retirement can bring.
Retirement is an Eye-Opener for Many
Take Suzy, for example. After working more than 30 years at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Suzy decided it was time to retire.
Twelve years later, she still has to pinch herself every morning to make sure that she’s not dreaming. Retirement has been an eye-opener for her.
Actually, it’s been a not-so-smooth adjustment.
Her days are, mostly, a blank slate. That means she has oodles of time to garden, exercise, nap, catch up on reading–pretty much whatever she wants. Lots of days, however, she’s restless. (Or as her mother often says, “Like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs!”).
Suzy regularly feels like she’s not sure what to do with herself.
She’s not alone. A surprisingly high number of retirees experience this same challenge. They’ve spent years–decades even–scrimping and saving, investing and building a solid nest egg.
In their fifties, it dawns on them: the time to retire is finally approaching!
They’re about to walk away from a career and finally have time to focus on family and hobbies.
- No more boring departmental meetings.
- No more 120-150 emails filling their box every day.
- They can sleep till noon if they want.
- Stay in their pajamas all day.
There’ll finally be time to devote to all those interests they put on the back burner over the years.
And so these 50-somethings daydream about travel. They imagine themselves in a camper, a fishing boat, or a hammock overlooking a lake. The company will no longer be claiming “ownership” of 35-40% of their waking hours 50 weeks out of the year. Their life will finally be their own.
They think, “This is going to be so exciting.”
But then when retirement becomes a reality, many are surprised to find that excitement is only one of the emotions they feel.
4 Common Emotions Retirees Experience
From our extensive work with “rookie retirees,” here are the four most common emotions retirees experience and wrestle with:
1) Excitement in Retirement
As you near the end of your career, you probably feel a sense of elation. To be sure, you’ll miss certain people and certain things about your job. But, retirement is what you’ve been saving for and working towards.
At last, you get to start creating a whole new chapter in life. Each day you’ll have the chance to do the things you want to do, rather than what someone else is requiring you to do.
You’re free! No more timesheets or clocking in. You get to pursue your passions and interests.
But there’s a second common emotion . . .
2) Nervousness in Retirement
A lot of about-to-be-retired people feel anxious.
And why wouldn’t they? They’ve never been retired before. The whole experience can feel like visiting a foreign country. You’ve always heard amazing things (but you’ve also read a few horror stories online).
This is the spot where our imaginations can kick into overdrive, and our minds start trying to fill in the gaps. If we’re not careful, we can start playing the “what if?” game–which for some is just another name for the “worst-case scenario” exercise.
Do you know this drill?
- “What if we can’t make ends meet financially?”
- “What if one of us has a health crisis?”
- “What if…what if…what if…”
We encourage our clients to try to catch themselves every time they start engaging in negative thinking.
Instead of obsessing about all the things that might go wrong (but probably won’t), imagine all the things that could go right. Then move on with your day.
Don’t waste all your hard-won free time. Be present and enjoy each precious moment.
A proven way to reduce anxiety is to have a plan (that’s right, a P-L-A-N). Before you retire, work with a financial advisor who understands all the ins and outs of how to get the most retirement income from your retirement assets.
Or read a good book on retirement – like The Retirement Boom by Catherine Allen, Nancy Bearg, Rita Foley, and Jaye Smith.
The more facts you have going in, the less opportunity your brain will have to conjure up nerve-wracking (and far-fetched) emotions retirees experience.
3) Curiosity in Retirement
In your working life, your days are largely predetermined. You have a routine.
- You get up, get dressed, grab breakfast, commute, and wrestle with coworkers, clients, and computers.
- Then you pack up your stuff and commute back home, so you can eat, have a bit of family time, go to sleep, get up, and do it all over again.
- It’s like this Monday through Friday, 48-50 weeks a year.
As a retiree, however, your days are like a blank slate.
Each day you get to pick up a pen, so to speak, and add a little something to this new story you’re crafting.
- What will you try?
- Who will you meet?
- Where will you go?
(This is where you can play the fun and healthy version of the “What if…” game.)
Satisfy your curiosity! Try new things and explore new places. This is your time to break out of stale routines and explore.
4) Relief in Retirement
Relief is that sweet peace of mind we feel when we realize, “I’m okay…this is actually going to work…all my fear was for nothing!”
When you see that you can afford to retire and that retirement is actually an amazing opportunity, suddenly you’re able to breathe easy and sleep soundly.
This is the emotion we want all our Christy Capital clients to experience.
Are you nearing retirement?
This is your time! Take advantage of it. Make the most of it.
The transition from employee to retiree can be tricky. It takes time (and courage) to start all over again. Essentially, you’re recreating yourself!
But hang in there. When you start to feel nervous, realize that’s a normal emotion. Then do the things to steer your mind in a more positive direction.
And, if you feel overwhelmed sorting through all the details that go into preparing for retirement, give us a call at 877-864-1145 or contact us today.
We’ll be delighted to help you experience what we’ve helped thousands of others experience: relief.