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It’s More Than Just Finances: The Psychology Of Retirement

It’s More Than Just Finances: The Psychology Of Retirement

There are certain phases of life that most of us just naturally fall into with little to no psychological effort. Retirement, however, isn’t one of those phases. It’s a time of life that requires both careful forethought and changes to mindset.

Many think of retirement purely on a monetary level, particularly how their finances will change. Indeed, just managing current and future finances can be a full-time job during retirement. However, retirement also involves many psychological aspects.

For the last forty or more years, your career has been one of the main things that defined your life. Just think about how many times you’ve used your occupation to partly introduce yourself, give meaning to your life, or describe who you are. There’s often an initial feeling of overwhelming identity loss when retiring. If you’re not defined by the career you’ve spent the majority of your life building anymore, then you’re going to need to reinvent who you are now and who you plan to become in the future.

Start out by composing a list of what you’ve always wanted to do, but have never had the money or time to get done. Maybe you want to be a world traveler or volunteer for a cause close to your heart. Maybe you want to complete your education for personal satisfaction, start an entirely new career, or try your hand at being a business owner. Whatever is going to help you define the new you, it should be something that’s feasible and practical to accomplish.

Be careful about thinking that retirement is the end of monotonous work and the beginning of fun and exciting activity. Research has shown that there are potentially very serious consequences (such as boredom, depression, and feelings of being nonproductive) for many that don’t work after they retire.

Many retirees mistakenly think that a certain leisure activity that they’ve always loved or wanted to try will keep them interested and occupied. But, after just a few months, most usually find that monotony isn’t something unique to work activities. One way to avoid the pitfall of boredom during retirement is to test-drive various activities while you’re still working. It makes sense that if you get tired of playing golf every weekend for a year, then it certainly isn’t going to hold your interest during retirement. Likewise, if you plan on opening a business or starting a new career, then you can test-drive your new identity by taking night classes or working weekends in a business like the one you plan to open. Finding a new you will also help you to stay happy and productive, which will be essential considering you will now most likely be spending more time than ever with your significant other and family.