Retirement: How to Cope

Like with all the life-changing events that you may have experienced – marriage, the birth of a child, divorce and grief – a period of adjustment after retirement is required. You have waited all your working life for this time, but now that it is here, well, you don’t quite recognize these feelings as the ones that you were expecting.

You will experience feelings that are in sharp contrast to the ones that you had ring-fenced– jubilation has turned to despair, and liberty into fear. Having planned the financial side of your retirement, you may have failed to pay attention to how you are going to spend your time. This is common among retirees. Not only do you have a change in daily routine, but you also have the challenge of learning about your new identity.

  • Who am I?

One of the most common questions asked of new contacts is about what they do for a living. For years, you will have inadvertently used your career to shape your identity, and now that you are retired, how do you describe yourself? Many people experience a type of identity crisis after retirement during this transitioning phase.

During your working life you have worn a mask of corporate identity, now it is time to discover the true you, without the constraints and restrictions of having to fit in. It’s scary, but you need to recognize who you are, what your likes and interests are, and who your non-career identity is.

  • What do I do?

You’ve been controlled by set working hours and days for most of your adult life. When these rules and restrictions of work are removed, you can feel that you have no leisure time, as your time is no longer clearly defined. Not only have your routines been disrupted, but you have no real reason or urgency to do anything, it can be easy to slip into an ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ mentality.

How to have a successful transition from worker to retiree

  1. Give yourself time

You will not suddenly be okay with your new life, rather think of it as an ongoing process that will evolve and take shape organically. There’s no pressure to hit a target, so relax and give yourself time to deepen your understanding of who you are.

  1. Recognize your strengths and your weaknesses

Think about the times in your life when you have had to overcome challenges. You will have developed key traits and characteristics that have helped you navigate through life up until now. You will also be aware of your weaknesses and aspects of your personality that may be hindering your feelings of prosperity and personal growth. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Can I change what I am finding difficult?
  • Can I change my perception of the challenge?
  • How can I accept the situation?

By auditing your emotions and characteristics, you will be able to identify the healthiest way for you to move forward in this next phase of your life.

  1. Pay more attention to your hobbies

With so much free time, you can focus on your hobbies – old and new. If you consider yourself a great golfer, then invest in professional driving irons, clothing and golf club memberships. Heading to a golf club means meeting like-minded people, too!

However, if you do not have any set hobbies to begin with, do not fear. There are many you can try from swimming to yoga. Gyms may also have discounts for seniors.

  1. Write a to-do list

Write a to-do list of all the things that you want to do and the places you want to visit. A written list gives you succinct goals to aim for, rather than having hypothetical wish-list.  Note that it’s a to-do list rather than a bucket list. A bucket list is associated with things to do before you die, the term limits the time that you have available. A to-do list is far more positive and actionable!

  1. Be adventurous

Just because you have never tried something, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t! Sometimes you will have an opportunity to do something that you ordinarily would not have entertained. You are on a path of discovery and will find that as one door shuts another will open. New activities are a great way to keep your brain stimulated.

Retirement is a phase of life that requires you to keep an open mind. Appreciate that some days you will feel positive and prosperous, and other days you will feel isolated and frustrated. You have the freedom to experience new things and reconnect with who you really are.