Tips for Adjusting to Retirement
Retirement is often painted as a permanent vacation where you’re free to do as much or little as you want on whatever schedule you choose. As HelpGuide notes, this common fantasy downplays the loss of identity, purpose, and structure that sometimes comes with being unemployed. If you don’t have a job title, a task to accomplish, deadlines to meet, and coworkers, you may feel a bit lost, bored, or isolated. The reality is that retiring is a major change. Utilizing these tips for adjusting to retirement is a smart strategy that can help smooth your path.
Embrace Your Emotions
Retirement is a major life change, so don’t be surprised that it’s accompanied by some emotional upheaval. Many people start out feeling free, but when the novelty wears off, there’s often anxiety and boredom. Guilt that you’re not enjoying retirement as much as you should be is also common. If you were forced to retire, you may feel angry. Don’t suppress or deny your emotions. This can lead to a reliance on unhealthy coping strategies. Instead, let them come, and look for healthy ways of dealing with them. Exercise, journal, talk with a counselor, chat with a friend or family member, or find a creative outlet.
Build Your Own Structure
When you were working, your employment set the framework for your routine. You had to get up, get dressed, and get out the door to get to work on time. If you find structure comforting, build your own routine. Listen to your body, and find a pattern that works for your well-being. Build your schedule around mealtimes, staying active, meeting with friends, running errands, and completing the other activities that you want to do.
Employment often provides both a sense of purpose and a cognitive challenge. To keep that going while you’re retired, set small goals for yourself. Learn a new skill. Master a new recipe. Read five books. Walk 10,000 steps a day at least five days a week. Set a goal that suits your lifestyle and situation. Write it down. Then, strive for it.
Expand Your Social Network
Work often dominates a person’s social network. With so much time spent in the office, much of their social interaction either occurs there or is tied to that setting. That’s part of the reason that retiring can be so devastating. As you’re adjusting to retirement, it is a great time to focus on expanding your social network. Reach out to others in the community. Join groups. Connect with friends.
Consider Getting an Encore Job or Volunteering
What if you honestly miss being in the workforce? Many retirees find part-time or low-stress work a great way to fill the day and stay engaged without all the pressures of their old jobs. Others choose volunteer work as a way to share their skills, enjoy socializing, and give back to something they care about without the responsibility of having to take on unwanted or unmanageable tasks.
Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment
Ultimately, retirement is a huge adjustment. It’s also a personal experience. What works for one person may not work for you. In fact, what worked for you initially may not work as your circumstances change. Don’t be afraid to experiment and make changes to find the right path for you so that you can get the most enjoyment possible out of your retirement.
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