When it comes to retirement, you’ve likely squared away the financial side of things. Saving up for your nest egg is one of the most crucial things you can do to ensure that you’ll live your golden years in comfort and security.
But what about your mental state? Are you emotionally and psychologically prepared to retire? It may seem like an innocuous question, but it’s one that you should answer well before your goodbye party at the office.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the less talked about factors that come along with retirement and how you can prepare yourself to navigate them.
Mental Fitness and Readiness
For many people, work is a lot more than a way to earn money and pay the bills. When you’ve been working in your career for so long, it understandably becomes a big part of your identity. As you approach retirement, the fear of losing a significant portion of yourself can become overwhelming.
If you’re not mentally prepared for it, the shock could bring a host of problems, such as irritability, anxiety, and depression. Before, you were working toward a goal every day. Now that you’re not working, what’s left?
I’m Retired – What Now?
Probably the most significant change that will happen is that you are no longer on a set schedule. What will that first Monday morning feel like? Rather than working 9-5 every day, now you have all the time in the world to do whatever you want.
While that may sound relaxing, after a little while (a few weeks at most), it can become lonely, and purposeless.
Although work may not have always been the most rewarding use of your time, it kept you busy and allowed you to keep your mind occupied with productive activities. During retirement, it’s essential that you continue this kind of schedule if you want to stay happy. New Retirement Inc has compiled what they’re calling the Definitive Ranking of the 25 Best Ways to Spend Retirement. You’re sure to find some retirement lifestyle planning inspiration among these ideas.
Before you enter your golden years, ask yourself these questions:
- What do I want to achieve in my retirement?
- What are my short and long-term goals for retirement?
- What am I getting out of my retirement?
Let’s break down each question to understand better how they can impact your situation.
What do I want to achieve?
Yes, retirement means that your work-life is coming to an end, but you still have plenty of life to live. You’re retired, not dead. So you want to start thinking about things that can add meaning and vitality to your golden years.
Do you want to use this time to give back to the community? Do you want to travel the world? What meaning and direction will you be able to get now that you’re not working full-time?
Although it’s not 100% necessary to answer this question before you retire, it’s something you want to start thinking about as soon as possible. Once you can find a direction you want to head in, it will make your retirement years much more rewarding.
Fun tip: Start a Pinterest Board for your retirement. Explore various lifestyles, travel destinations, hobbies, events and more and pin away. If you want to take it a step further, print a screenshot of your Pinterest board and hang it on your refrigerator as a vision board for your ideal retirement.
What are my short and long-term goals?
These are probably going to be closely related to the previous question, but now is the time to put things into perspective. For example, if one thing you want to achieve in retirement is traveling more, you can start to map out trips and budget for them accordingly. Rather than having a general “travel more” idea, you can begin to create itineraries and make your goal a reality.
As far as long-term strategies for retirement, you will want to create a kind of timeline for your golden years. Sticking with our travel example, your overarching goal could be to visit all seven continents or to go to a list of various countries.
You can start to break these elements down into your timeline so that you can make sure that you’re staying on track. While these goals aren’t necessarily set in stone, it will give you something to look forward to so that you’re not anxious in anticipation of how you’ll spend your time.
What am I getting out of my retirement?
This final question is kind of existential, but it’s just as necessary as the others. If you want to travel more, what’s the reasoning behind it? Are you hoping to fill a scrapbook or photo album to share with your children? Are these specific destinations on your bucket list?
When deciding on what you’re getting out of retirement, you want to think more abstractly. Think about the meaning behind your goals and achievements and why they matter to you. If you’re just doing stuff to stay busy, then you’ll grow tired of it, and it will feel like you never retired at all.
For some people, retirement is a means to an end. The extra time and freedom enables them to work on projects they put to the side while they were working. For others, retirement is a way to find peace and balance in their lives.
Before you set off on your golden years, you should find what motivates you. This will help you get the most out of retirement and ensure that you don’t feel like you’re wasting away.
The Big Picture
Whether you’re about to retire or you still have years to prepare, it’s never too early to start thinking about these things. It’s crucial to develop an identity that exists outside of your work life, once you do that, you can make the most out of these years and ensure that you’re happy and healthy for every last one of them. Though the thought of retirement can be daunting, and the idea of aging doesn’t usually look appealing, keep your focus on the positives: your growing wisdom, inspiring others and leaving a legacy. Retirement is your opportunity to leave your stamp on the world.