After years of hard work and diligent financial planning, you’re finally ready for retirement. But before you start dreaming about endless days of golf or gardening, you should evaluate if you’re emotionally prepared for this new stage of your life.
Beyond Financial Planning
The financial aspects of retirement planning are crucial, of course. However, don’t let them overshadow the more personal and emotional side of retirement planning. Here are four steps to take to get prepared emotionally for retirement.
- Establish a new routine. Once you enter retirement, you may be tempted to lounge around in your pajamas all day and “do nothing” for awhile. After all, you’ve earned your relaxation!.
But too many lazy days can make you feel purposeless and depressed. Instead, establish a new daily retirement routine. Set your alarm clock for a specific time each morning and decide what goals you want to accomplish that day.
It may be a big project, like a home repair, or something as small as taking a morning walk. This may not fill the same amount of time as your work day did, but a set routine can help alleviate boredom and depression and give your life structure.
In addition to your daily short-term goals, also set some long-term goals for retirement. Keep in mind that bigger goals, like traveling overseas or taking a cross-country RV trip, may not be feasible right away. Instead, determine what gives you purpose and pursue this throughout your retirement.
- Discover who you are outside of work. For many people, their workplace comprises a large part of their self-identity. You probably enjoy the daily interactions with your co-workers and take pride in the achievements you’ve made for your company.
But after you retire, you’ll need to move away from this mindset and figure out who you really are. For example, how would a close friend or family member describe you? Make a list of your positive personal attributes and your skills, strengths and abilities.
You may think that your identity lies in your work, but it doesn’t have to. Chances are, you have more to offer the world than your professional skill set.
- Develop relationships with friends outside of the office. The workplace also serves as the primary social sphere for many people. When they retire, they suddenly discover that they don’t have any friends outside of work.
Use your retirement as an opportunity to get out of your social comfort zone and connect with different types of people. For example, you can join new social groups like neighborhood gardening and book clubs and tennis and golf leagues to make new friends who share your passions.
And while you may not see your former co-workers every day anymore, you can stay connected in their lives by meeting them for weekly lunch dates or other activities. Maintaining these relationships while also making new friends will give you the social interaction needed to stay emotionally healthy and happy.
- Pursue your hobbies and passions. There may be lots of things you’ve wanted to try during your life but haven’t had time for due to your job and career. Before you retire, make a list of these activities you’ve wanted to pursue.
They could range from physical activities like sports and exercise to social and intellectual gatherings like a book club. Before diving in, though, make sure it’s something you’re really interested in and passionate about. For example, if you’ve never cared about art before, it’s unlikely that you’ll want to sign up for a painting class during retirement.
You can also use the skills you’ve developed during your career as a volunteer to help make a difference in causes you’re passionate about. These might be youth outreach programs, women’s and homeless shelters, or political campaigns. Volunteer work may give you a restored sense of purpose while positively impacting your community.
If you’re still looking for more ways to fill your time in retirement, you might consider working part-time. This will give you daily social interaction while keeping your skills and your mind sharp, as well as provide additional income to supplement your retirement savings.
Set Realistic Expectations
Retirement represents a big lifestyle change, so you should be prepared and have realistic expectations before you retire. Start thinking now about what you can do to get ready for this new stage of your life.