Many of us have been working, full time or part time, for 25 to 40 years – even with a break to raise children or travel. So approaching retirement can generate feelings of excitement and relief, and, for some, trepidation. Retiring is a large life change so it’s not surprising that some of us are actually afraid of retiring.
Planning retirement, at first glance, offers us great freedom. Liberation from the ‘have tos’ and schedules of a working day, week, month and year. Freedom to do our own thing and march to the beat of our own drum.
So why does the prospect of leaving work for the freedom of retirement generate feelings of anxiety? Work is usually known and predictable – there are rules to be followed; there are accepted behaviours, a physical location, a schedule, procedures and priorities. After a while in a job, parts of it can be done effortlessly, even unconsciously. Whether we like our work or not, it becomes known, predictable and even comfortable.
Retiring releases us from those work imposed expectations, structures, imperatives and boundaries. Retired life doesn’t have any rules, there’s no schedule to adhere to and no expectations about what we’ll get done in a day, apart from our own. Now its our turn to shape up the activities of our day, we can determine when in the year key events will occur and we can decide what’s important.
Starting to shape up our retirement days and weeks can feel like a leap into the unknown. It’s not surprising it makes some of us feel apprehensive, even anxious. Concerns and questions bubble up. What will I do with all the hours in the day? Will I be bored? How will I stay current and relevant? Will I start to loose my marbles? How will I deal with being with my partner 24/7? Who will I hang out with? How will I get a sense of accomplishment? Will my health hold up?
Its tempting to ignore these concerns, to turn away from them and hope they resolve themselves. In fact, the opposite is needed – to turn around and face our concerns head on, for they hold the seeds of the solution. By thinking through our questions and envisaging various retirement scenarios we can start to find our own unique retirement direction and design a future lifestyle that suits us.
For instance, if we think we’ll miss the friendships and interactions at work, can we catch up with those people over lunch? Can we join an interest group and start new friendships? Thinking through how to address concerns now, before we retire, will give us a chance to shape up our individual retirement and make sure we are doing what is important to us, with the people we want to be with, at times that suit us.
By planning retirement, shaping our own lifestyle, rather than avoiding concerns about retirement that are bubbling up, we can contemplate what we really want and make well-informed decisions in our own time. And then leap into retirement and have the time of our lives!
Download my free Heydays Roadmap to Retirement where I share my ‘must do’ preparation steps. Soon you’ll be closer to the retirement of your dreams.