Sunday, June 21, 2009

Retirement: Challenges and Opportunities

Retirement is a time of changes: in self-identity, in relationships with others, in the ability to live independently, and so much more. It may mark the end of some phases of life and the beginning of others. This can be, and often is, a highly emotional time for a person approaching or entering retirement, as the person considers what he can do or would like to do with the rest of life. Exploring retirees’ emotions about retirement and what they want the rest of their lives to be like are an integral part of the retirement planning process.


Retirement can offer many opportunities for people to do the things they’ve never had time for and to act on long-cherished dreams. Still, for many, retirement will be a time of multiple transitions, with a high probability of – at least some of that period – being a time of stress and anxiety before – and sometimes after – becoming a time of leisure and enjoyment.




To that end, Gayle Colman calls this period of a person’s life “rewirement.”  Ben Coombs says the person is ‘restyled.”  Indeed, the rewiring or restyling of retirement may be one of the more stressful emotional transitions for the people, close behind the death of a loved one or a divorce.  For most individuals, this complicated time of change brings up many emotions.

Some older couples joke that the first year of a man’s retirement is the hardest to survive.  The reason, they say, is the high risk that the wife is going to kill the husband. Suddenly without jobs to go to, men with too little purpose and too much time on their hands may wander around the house advising their spouses how to do tasks the wives have been doing quite competently for forty some years. The last straw for one woman was when, “He organized my spices alphabetically!”

The transition from employment to retirement might represent an ability to finally do with your life, whatever you always wanted to do, but could never find time through the busy life schedule. But that could also be a complete disaster, when the only interest you had all your life – your professional occupation – is gone, and you cannot, or do not want to find a valid substitution. After years of working, it’s easy to feel that you’ve been pushed aside when you retire. Even when you are not forced into leaving your career by systematic policies, layoff, or other circumstance, it still feels like a piece of you is ripped away. Not all people feel this way, but it’s certainly not uncommon.

One of the best ways to smooth your transition is to stay involved with life. Once you’ve left your job, don’t become a hermit. It’s the perfect time to take a vacation and get in some down time, sure, but don’t sit alone in a dark room with the TV on for too many hours at a time. Take up a fitness program, a hobby, look for some valid “make money at home” opportunity, or maybe become a mentor or volunteer. The ideas are endless. If you want to, start a second career, or go back to school. The rules are different than the ones your father or grandfather played by. Do what you want, but do something.

Enjoy life!





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