Have you lied about being retired?
Well, I did….. only recently during a consultation with my optometrist when he asked about the type of work I did. When I said I was retired, he kindly replied “you seem too young to be retired: feeling embarrassed and with a tinge of guilt I quickly clarified my statement by saying “I’m semi-retired and exploring my future work options”. Well, not a total lie
This interaction started me thinking why did I feel the need to recant my initial comment that I’m retired and why did I have pangs of guilt and felt uncomfortable?
So, I thought of asking several of my fellow and more experienced retirees if they had ever lied about the fact they were retired, and if so, what was their rationale for doing so?
What I found interesting was most of the retirees I spoke to admitted that they had lied about their retirement status. This I found most interesting, but more so when I enquired about the reason they purposefully denied that they were in fact retirees.
The portrayal of retirement life
In response to my query, I received a range of interesting and varied insights. More than I had previously contemplated. For some of them, their retirement was not living up to the idyllic time of life that they had envisaged, especially as portrayed in the media.
- silver-haired retirees enjoying a more sedentary lifestyle
- living the retirement village lifestyle
- spending time with and cuddling grandchildren
- dining out as expensive restaurants
- dancing the night away or
- taking up painting or yoga
I admit the reality of my current life is very much different from the images portrayed as retirement (the ads are obviously not written by a retired person) which pop up on the television and the internet. Not that I regret, nor will I apologize for the life I am transitioning towards.
Of the retirees, I asked their responses were:
- For some of the retirees, they found it easier just to say, “nearly retired or just on long service leave from work”. They said they did this to avoid the inevitable questions about retirement that they just didn’t what to talk about
- Others said that they felt guilty for having retired. Though some retired early due to either astute investments or luck. Whereas one couple lived a very focused, frugal lifestyle to make sure they had saved enough money to exit the workforce much earlier than most of us.
- For another group of retirees, they were forced into retirement earlier than they had planned or wanted due to health issues, a failed business or later life redundancy. This meant they were living a retirement that they had not imagined and didn’t want to discuss it in any detail. This meant 12 to 24 months attempting to find further employment until they can access their superannuation or receive the government aged pension.
Most of the retirees I spoke with had in common was that during the “retirement honeymoon period” of the 5 stages of retirement, depending on the individual, lasted between 3 to 6 months into one’s retirement.
This period is when most retirees –
- celebrated leaving work
- not having to commute
- attend endless useless meetings
- not having to deal with the office politics
- suffer the rants and games of psychotic narcissistic bosses or the stress of meeting a variety of “important” deadlines for jobs or report submissions.
They worked through their “retirement bucket list” usually much faster than they anticipated. Enjoying the freedom of doing what they wanted to do when they wanted to do it. When this initial novelty period ended, the reality of living one’s retirement descended upon them.
Many retirees had been so focused on the financial aspects of retiring that they admitted that they didn’t give adequate thought and planning to what their retirement lifestyle would look like.
They failed to appreciate what they were retiring too!
They had been more focused on what they were retiring from.
Some of my informal case study subjects stated that their retirement gave them more time to be with their family. However, it left many of them feeling that life had no real purpose and they felt their skills, knowledge and experience was undervalued by the community.
Nearly everyone that I spoke to thought planning for retirement was solely about financial planning. Most people gave little or no thought to planning for the emotional side of retirement.
It shouldn’t be!
Highlighting that saving for your retirement is crucial whilst the development of your retirement mindset is a necessity.
Retirement is a time of major change and the need for adaption. It is a unique opportunity to pursue new interests and become the person you would be happy to be for this new and exciting stage of your life.
What I found interesting was that some retirees introduced themselves with their former job title or what profession they were in before retiring.
Such as “I’m a retired cook”, “I’m a retired company director” or “I’m a retired senior mining trainer”.
When I questioned them why they introduced themselves as they did, they stated:
- “otherwise people would not be able to relate to me”
- “I didn’t want to be seen as worthless or would have nothing to contribute to any conversation”
- whilst others stated they felt it was important for their self-esteem to be recognized as a person that had contributed to society and not been stereotyped as an old person.
On a deeper level, our previous occupations were the main source of our self-esteem that provided meaning.
As one retiree told me she was the “go-to person when the management needed something done quickly and correctly”. This was what she was known for and proud of it. This role gave her meaning in her life.
She stated now “I’m a nobody, the most important thing I do is water my garden and cook, I have nothing to look forward to that mentally challenges me”.
Retirement can be one of our biggest challenges if we don’t adequately prepare both financially and mentally for this next chapter of our lives. This chapter can and should be challenging, exciting and with a purpose.
What I have noted from other retirees is that circumstances can lead us to have a premature retirement date. Which is often before the date we planned for and s totally out of control?
We have a choice to make
Either stroll through your retirement without purpose and harbour regrets and anger.
You can refocus and develop a retirement mindset and plan to do the things that bring you enjoyment and meaning.
The choice is all yours
Money is not the sole determinate of ensuring you have a great retirement. One which will in all probability be for the next 25 years of your life. If your retiring discover what you need to know, today.
So, it is “your time….. make the most of it”.
Diana Rodriguez Getting Over Retirement Guilt February 6, 2015
The concept of retirement is morphing, how prepared are you?
I would love to hear your thoughts
Have you lied about being retired? Why did you? If so let me know why?
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Frequently Asked Questions
Is the protrayal of retired life accurate?
For many retirees their retirement was not living up to the idyllic time of life that they had envisaged, especially as portrayed in the media.
What do retirees fail to plan for?
Many retirees had been so focused on the financial aspects of retiring that they admitted that they didn’t give adequate thought and planning to what their retirement lifestyle would look like. They failed to appreciate what they were retiring too! They had been more focused on what they were retiring from.
Is retired life a challenge?
For many retirees living in retirement is a challenge. Money is not the sole determinate of ensuring you have a great retirement. Retirees have a choice to make they can either stroll through retirement without purpose and harbour regrets or they can refocus and develop a retirement mindset and plan to do the things that bring them enjoyment and meaning.