Most people spend their adult life saving up for retirement. But many don’t think about planning for their emotional retirement.
The idea of 60 being the new 40 and 70 being the new 50 is confusing people. The initial “sugar rush” for new retirees is to “live the good life” with time to travel, find new hobbies, and socialize. But many people reaching retirement have a lot of questions and misgivings about the good times ahead. And many are just too embarrassed to say anything about it.
That’s why, while we take a financial assessment for a client’s retirement, I initiate discussion about their life plan moving forward. Issues like loss of title or lack of a daily schedule can be an emotional upheaval for some people. With retirement comes freedom. With freedom comes flexibility. This can be a game changer in people’s lives or it can be very scary. They may be inclined to return to what they know, take another job or a few board positions. I urge clients to take some time for an emotional check. Be thoughtful about what they want and how they’ll spend their time. With people living 15-20 years in retirement, it’s important to figure out what makes them happy.
Here are some common challenges that my clients have voiced over the years.
LOTS OF FLEXIBILITY:
During a 40-50 year career, clients are bombarded with tight schedules, new people, job responsibilities, travel and stress. Your job pretty much planned your life. You’ve been bound by the clock for years and now it’s up to you to wake up and plan your day – every day.
After you’ve cleaned the closet and taken the fishing trip, the “freedom” can be overwhelming. Take time to adjust to the new flexibility and slower pace of retirement. After all, you’ve been running for 40-50 years, learning new habits take time.
People in high profile, management jobs may feel awkward, guilty, or just weird about receiving pay in the form of a pension without doing any work. They had a company car, traveled for business and lived for exciting challenges.
Adjusting to a new life can be difficult. One example is Dave, 63, who worked in a highly competitive job as a software company executive. He was competitive and assertive and had more difficulty adjusting to retirement as compared to clients coming from less pressurized jobs. He was used to making critical decisions and now he found himself making impulsive decisions with his time and money.
Executives also tend to lose their brand authority with the loss of their title. For years, they could say “I am “…” at “…” company. Or they could introduce themselves as a business owner, a Senior VP or CEO. Brands and titles that carry significance often evaporate when you retire. Again, take time to redefine yourself and find your personal significance in your new life.
Retirement is supposed to be the Promised Land, where you only have to take care of your golf game or finish up that great book. Yet, here you are feeling down, unaccomplished and all by yourself.
Many relationships are tied to work and your social network is gone after you retire. Over and over, I hear from clients, especially men, how their social needs were filled by work and the congregation of colleagues. New relationships don’t happen overnight but now is the time to plan activities that broaden your social network.
And 24/7 with your spouse might be more than either of you bargained for. Beth, a part-time emergency room nurse, cherished her down time while her husband, Jim, was working. They never discussed the challenge of being around each other all of the time. After Jim retired, this togetherness almost broke up the marriage. Happy to note, they have adjusted well and have both embraced the lifestyle change.
Many people feel that a bit of altruism can cure loneliness. And it’s true – a June study in the Journal of Aging and Health found that people living in retirement communities reported high levels of life satisfaction and fewer depressive symptoms if they were involved with low to moderate levels of volunteer work than those who weren’t.
However, volunteering is not for everyone and family obligations can be a challenge. Many retirees feel pressured by family to help out with babysitting grandchildren or worse, their pets, since they have so much time on their hands. And saying no can be hurtful and even harm the relationship.
In closing, let me stress that it’s your retirement—you get to fill out your own dance card. Whether it’s learning a new skill, having more time for family and friends, or simply pursuing the curiosity that has been held in check by other demands, this time is yours. Try to define what retirement means to you and share it with others. We are here for all life’s challenges. Give us a call if we can help.
Olson Wealth Group is a full service wealth management firm. With wise counsel and clear strategies, our experienced specialists provide tailored approaches that strive to maximize wealth. For more information, please visit OlsonWealthGroup.com
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The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendation for any individual.