Retirement is supposed to be the Golden Years.
We work hard and sock away a portion of our earnings for years so that we can relax and enjoy the fruits of our labours. Since Canadians are enjoying longer, healthier lives, we can expect to live longer and better in retirement. Not everyone is looking forward to the day when they won’t have to go into work, though. Some people even find themselves dreading retirement.
In their book, The Retirement Maze: What You Should Know Before and After You Retire, by Rob Pascale, Louis H. Primavera and Rip Roach, close to half of retirees (45 percent) miss their jobs. This number doesn’t drop, even as people settle into their new “freedom” as retired people.
According to Pascale and his co-authors, retirees still miss participating working more than a decade after leaving the workforce. Is this a sign that something is fundamentally wrong with us?
How your Identity Becomes Tied to your Job
The issue here is not retirement; it’s more about the way you have planned for retirement. You may have spent a lot of time during the years you were working talking about and focusing mainly on the financial aspect of your retirement plan. While this is important, and you need to have the resources in place to finance the lifestyle you want, it’s only one part of the overall picture.
Your work is not just something that provides a source of income. For a great many people, it gives them a sense of identity along with providing structure to their day. If you meet a new person at a social event and are asked about yourself, the first thing you are likely to share is what type of job you have. You don’t answer the question, “I work as a…,” but rather, “I’m a…” This is an indication of how our identity is tied to the way we make a living.
Going into retirement without having a specific plan for how to fill in the eight or more hours that normally would be spent at work may seem like a vacation — but only for the initial “honeymoon” phase. After that point, retirement may not be as satisfying as you had hoped.
Alternative to Dreading Retirement: Talking About it Now
How will talking about coping with retirement now help you when the time comes? Getting these issues out in the open means you can look at them and work out a plan so that you aren’t suddenly facing huge chunks of time with nothing to fill it.
- Rather than going from working full-time to fully retired, you may decide to ease into a retirement lifestyle by slowly decreasing you’re working hours over a few months or years. Your financial advisor can help you determine how this would look so you can make the choice that best fits your needs.
- Many retirees say they miss the relationships they had with coworkers. If you don’t need to generate income in retirement, consider volunteer for an organization, coaching, mentoring or helping out in some capacity. It will keep you busy and help you make some new friends.
- Make a point of taking up a new hobby or interest that you didn’t have the time to pursue while you were working. Sign up for a class or lessons as a way to mark this new phase in your life.
Ultimately, a good financial plan gives you the freedom to choose to live the way you want to in retirement. It allows you to decide to work because you want to, not because you have to. You can fill your days with activities that are meaningful to you, and you will no longer have to be dreading retirement.
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