Retirement planning discussions tend to circle around the financial aspects of creating a secure and comfortable retirement for yourself. People tend to not think about other issues that may arise in retirement. This is a big mistake, as when retirees are asked what they're most unhappy about in retirement, they tend to report being most dissatisfied with their lifestyle changes. A lot of people have diminished self-esteem created by a lack of direction and a loss of feeling productive.
One possible solution for addressing these feelings is to phase slowly into retirement. Lots of pre-retirees enjoy the idea of continuing work in some shape or fashion. Some do consulting, job-sharing, act as a mentor, or provide back-up management. Mentoring, in particular, enables an experienced professional, executive, or business owner to share his or her vast knowledge and experience with a younger “up-and-coming” employee. The act of phasing-in retirement provides an “anchor,” and will give you the opportunity to explore other activities while maintaining a meaningful role.
An individual may find that separation from his or her job, profession, or business is more emotional than they expected. People find that it takes two to five years for hard-working ex-business owners and executives to “decompress” from the heavy personal investment they were making while working.
The biggest key to fully enjoying your later years is perspective. While the word retirement suggests the end of your working life, it doesn’t have to be that final. A more positive spin is to consider retirement the beginning of a new phase of life, a phase in which you can do all the things you never seemed to find the time for while you were working. Volunteer work can enhance your sense of contributing to something, and taking courses in areas of interest can challenge your intellectual curiosity, and maybe help you meet new people.
Because you have more time available for contemplation once your working years are over, it is both appropriate and wise to take a look at how you have been living, and to determine the importance of your various activities. You may want to take a step back and reorder your priorities. Some of the things you have been doing might not be as necessary as they were when you were working.
If you turn retirement into an opportunity for exploration and new challenges, you can make the transition an exciting and enjoyable process. You can make it whatever you want. You are limited only by the bounds of your imagination. Enjoy the journey, you have worked hard for it!