What to expect when you retire?
I’m sitting here retired and started thinking, Retirement is often depicted as this wonderful phase of life, the destination we have been told is our reward for working the last 45 years. The reality of this retirement phase of our life for many of us can be challenging and often not as wonderful as we expect it to be, at least initially.
The following are 41 retirement insights into the important things you need to know about retirement, but nobody tells you about. You only discover these and the impact they have on you mentally when living as a retiree.
The good news is you can mentally prepare for these issues once you are aware of them. Real retirement planning is much more than just financial planning if you want to live a good retirement.
Traditional Retirement Planning is Limited
Although the concept of retirement has changed since my parent’s day what is often missing in traditional retirement planning is the focus on the development of a different mindset that you require to live successfully in retirement.
There is a lot of retirement information around about the financial planning side of retirement such as;
- how much do I need to have saved
- what are my living expenses going to be?
- how long is my retirement savings and superannuation going to last?
- what amount should I have saved, etc?
We spend so much time worrying about the money and planning the financial side of our retirement. When the big day finally arrives, we only then discover what we had failed to plan for the psychological impact that retirement will inevitably have on all aspects of our life. However, what you need to know about retirement is often not clearly communicated.
Adjusting to Retirement
Many of us only discover that we failed to plan for the psychological aspect of retirement once we had retired. I for one never thought I would need to mentally prepare for this major life event….. retirement!
But I soon discovered how wrong and ill-prepared I was to handle the various challenges that living a retirement life would present. For instance, what each day of my new life would be like and the range of feelings and emotions that I never considered would affect me.
After speaking with other retirees, too few people consider the psychological adjustments that accompany this major life change. This includes coping with aspects such as:
- loss of your job title and corresponding identity.
- relationships and support networks you developed through work and
- spending more time than ever before at home with your spouse.
The need for a Retirement Mindset
“You need to develop what I term your Retirement Mindset”.
I never considered this notion of a Retirement Mindset aspect of retirement as I was so focused on that retirement was my destination and not the start of a new journey into the next phase of my life.
The visions I had of retirement were far different from the one I’ve experienced. Before I left the workforce, I thought my retirement would be a carefree life where I could do what I want when I want, and I would be happy……….. No
I thought I could gain some casual work, travel, sleep in most days and there would be few limits. Now, I have realised that my expectations were just so unrealistic.
Although I had reasonable savings to live off and few responsibilities, I did not expect the mental impact that retirement would have upon me.
Another aspect I never considered before retiring was the realisation my retirement would be changing. The reality was that retirement was much more difficult to cope with than I had ever expected, and the number of unexpected events and expenses can derail the best-laid plans.
There is very little practical information focusing on
the non-financial planning side of retirement
compared to the financial side of retiring.
What you need to know about retirement
The following are some insights, observations, experiences, and suggestions that I want to pass onto you. Including some changes, I have implemented to make navigating retirement less stressful and which are not discussed or even contemplated by people when they are considering retirement.
After my conversations with other retirees, I am relieved to know that I’m not alone on this journey. Although I understand everybody’s retirement will be different, I believe that the following observations about retirement are what most people thinking of retirement should know.
Retirement Coping Strategies
Here goes, my 41 important things you need to know about retirement before you retire that I wish I knew earlier to cope with transitioning into retirement life.
How to Structure your Day in Retirement
1. In retirement, you develop a different relationship with time.
2. Along with eliminating your 41-hour work week plus your average daily travelling time and lunch breaks, most of us have just freed up at least 50 hours of extra time a week. What are you going to do with that time?
3. Retirement is not like a holiday. Holidays are usually time-limited and you are aware of this whilst on them. The realisation that you are not going back to work is something you aren’t prepared for until you have retired.
4. Retirement is now your new occupation. You’re now the CEO of yourself. So, you can just sit in front of the TV watching Netflix, eating chips, drinking beer or do something more fulfilling.
5. It’s a new responsibility. Retirement can be the gift of time and new freedoms which should not be wasted. How will you live out the remaining years of your life?
6. Every morning that you wake up, find something productive to do with your time. Freedom doesn’t magically happen. Just because you don’t work a traditional full-time job doesn’t mean you’ll be happy in retirement.
7. Losing structure seems wonderful at first, as every day feels like a weekend.
8. It takes a while to get out of the habit of thinking I could only do things when the weekend gets here.
9. Without some regularity in your day, it will be easy to waste away your day and not do the things that make you happy.
10. Give yourself an adjustment period to understand and determine the routine that would suit your lifestyle and you could make as your daily schedule. I discovered that you need a schedule. Creating the rhythm of your days and weeks that will work best for you is the key – otherwise, you can just drift along.
11. Establish the retirement routine that helps you plan your days. Experiment with various activities and time slots to see how it makes you feel.
12. Make time to read the newspaper or catching up with your news feeds and enjoying a cup of coffee, but add in regular time for other activities such as shopping, exercise, social activities, volunteer opportunities, family catchups, etc.
13. While your days need not be rigid, having a set wake-up time and routine can help you feel more normal now that you aren’t going to work
The Pursuit of Retirement Happiness
14. Your pace of life will slow down in retirement. Learn to accept it and relax a little. Best of all, when you don’t want to do anything, beyond getting out of bed and just laze around you don’t have to!
15. Expect to go through about 4 emotional stages during your early years in retirement. What you need to know about retirement can be summarised as:
- Exit stage from the working life you once had into your retirement. Once the party is over (that’s if you get one) and all of the congratulations, farewell hugs and handshakes are done the first few days just feels like you’ve been sacked or retrenched.
- The Honeymoon is where you often feel euphoric and free with the belief that you are entering your retirement phase with your dreams and desires.
- Disenchantment often occurs between from 6 to 12 months once you have finished your various planned retirement activities such as:
– that around the world trip,
– home renovations etc and
– settle into your new daily life as a retiree.
And you start thinking, “So is this all I’ve got to look forward too! Is this it?”,
- Redefining or reinventing yourself to live this chapter of your life that may extend for the next 20 -25 years. You need to establish and build a new identity. I believe this stage is very important as you start to define what your life or “retirement” actually means to you. For many of us, what you believed retirement was isn’t exactly what it is today!.
16. We usually define ourselves by our jobs and the titles we hold which shape our identity and self-esteem. Once you leave the company for the last time, we are no longer a supervisor, manager or director. We just become another retiree.
17. One of the greatest challenges in adjusting to retirement I found was defining myself less in terms of a title, role or the work I performed.
Because usually during the beginning of any conversation with a new person you have just met, is “and what do you do”? This was a question I often had trouble answering and started to dread being asked once I had retired. I soon discovered that over time I had commenced redefining my sense of self-worth and understood that my life had changed.
For a growing number of retirees, they don’t appear to adjust, and their self-esteem continues to decline, and depression can set in.
18. Most retirees I know, if not required to be childcarers for their grandchildren often join and participate in volunteer work with various organisations, consulting, even returning to some part-time/casual work or embarking on starting a small business, even if they do not need the money.
These activities will provide you with the social interaction that you may miss from work, keeps your mind more active and gives you some sense of purpose. Research even says that doing something for others is a powerful way to increase your happiness.
These all contribute to your mental wellbeing, that is just as important if not more so than the financial side of retirement.
19. So, don’t be embarrassed to tell others you are retired and what you are doing.
20. Accept your new life. Don’t regret your past life.
21. Although you retired from work. You should know what you want to do in this next phase of life we call retirement. No one can tell you what you should be doing, you will need to discover this yourself!
You would be surprised at how many people don’t know who they are or what they want to do in retirement….. Me included.
Retirement and Health
22. I have found that in retirement your mindset changes about how you view many things, especially your health. You become more interested in health information and reports that you have not thought about previously.
23. Retirement won’t bring about good health. If you lived an unhealthy lifestyle your whole life, retirement will not reverse the effects of years of bad living. It may help you improve your lifestyle, but it won’t necessarily solve your pre-existing health problems. Focusing on your health before you retire will be a benefit to you in your retirement.
24. When you’re working, we are often consumed by a range of stressors and obligations which preoccupy our thoughts. Not living with job stress has improved my health.
25. Once retired and have less stress, your demeanour and outlook on life changes. I feel wonderful, grateful for life and I smile much more now. I even want to engage with others in conversations from passer-by’s to retail workers as I have both the time and inclination. I believe I have become a better person in retirement.
26. Remember, it’s so easy to get lazy, you may need to schedule a regular time to visit the gym a few times each week.
Retired and bored what can you do? Activities Hobbies
27. You should make sure you have a written retirement to-do or bucket list of things you think you would want to do in retirement.
The reality is some of the items on the list you will decide are unimportant. The rest you will complete in 6 months. After you’ve finished your bucket list, you have to figure out what to do next.
28. You will discover that retirement can get boring if you have no other interests or hobbies. Until now, we are so consumed with working and trying to get ahead in life that work has taken up so much of our lives and thoughts and most of us find it challenging not to work and we feel lost early in our retirement.
29. If you have retired early or forced into retirement for health or other reasons, your retirement can stretch years longer than you expected. It can be a stark realisation when the routine of work is no longer there and you are confronted with so much extra time with nothing to do.
The positive side of this is that you have the opportunity to discover what you like to do, and have the time to pursue it without the limitations of working around full-time employment.
30. Travel gets a lot cheaper when you retire. I now have the flexibility to travel outside the usual premium holiday periods and book travel on low demand days. I am no longer limited by rosters or compulsory leave requirement over the Christmas period due to business closures.
Relationships Challenges During Retirement
31. Retirement will bring new challenges to your existing domestic relationship. Both you and your partner will have to adjust to the increased time and proximately you both will be spending together. This increased contact can bring tension to the previous balanced routines that have been established over the years and retirement can certainly bring unresolved tensions to the surface.
32. If your social network and relationships revolved predominately around work relationships, you have to build new social networks.
33. Within a year you will lose touch with many of your work colleagues. If you do meet up with them you won’t be able to relate to the current issues they are talking about.
They may be jealous of you or they won’t know what to say except “so, how’s retirement life treating you…”
34. Another problem is loneliness because everyone else is working. You will need to actively plan things to do with other people. At first, it can be hard for most people to make new acquaintances until you become involved in local interest or hobby groups and start meeting other retirees.
Establish a Retirement Budget
35. Retirement doesn’t cost as much as you first think. The complexity of life reduces as you have more free time available and the associated work-related costs disappear.
36. Before you retire you should finally track of all of your expenses and estimate future expenses for 3 – 6 months. Learn how to use a spreadsheet or an online app. Ensure you consider your expenses as either daily expenses, regular yearly expenses and unexpected expenses.
You need to plan for an emergency fund.
37. Pay off all of your existing debt immediately like your house mortgage and the car repayments, as what was a normal pre-retirement expense will suddenly become a big deal when you’re living on a reduced retirement income.
38. Once retired and living on a budget you soon start asking yourself:
“Is this item something that I ‘want’, or is this something that I ‘need’?”
39. Learn to live and enjoy your retirement within your financial limitations. It’s sometimes challenging, however, it can be very interesting to see how you can stretch your savings which you never had thought of before.
40. Constantly watch your money. It is easy to slip into the old spending habits of pre-retirement days. Otherwise, the next thing you know is your expenditure is going to be greater than your income.
41. Seek assistance. If you are planning to retire, struggling with retirement or just need a fresh perspective on your plans it is ideal to seek assistance from somebody independent.
Best Retirement advice from a retiree
A lot of people focus almost entirely on the money side of retirement. But to be honest, money is only one component (notwithstanding an important one).
I have an excellent grasp of what retirement is actually like. I love being retired earlier than I had planned for, but many people suffer miserably and mentally struggle in retirement.
Before opting to live a retirement lifestyle, you need to have a very definite sense of who you are and what’s important to you in life. Of course, that’s true throughout your entire adult life, but retirement seems to test us mentally. You need a purpose in retirement.
I hope you enjoyed my experiences and insight into what the important things you need to know about retirement that nobody tells you.
“Don’t for a second believe that retirement
is the magic pill to life’s happiness.“
Financial planners only focus on the financial part of retirement and give you the data and statistics. When it comes to the other aspects of living your retirement life, they only touch on it from the money perspective – will you be able to afford it (whatever “it” is from travel to whatever you plan to do)?
This is where PLANNED WISHES comes in. We do retirement planning differently. We focus on important and complex non-financial matters to make sure you live a happy and purposeful retirement.