- For those about to retire, what do you expect retirement to be like?
- And for those already retired, what’s it actually been like?
The new “Retirement Perspectives and Attitudes Survey” (1) posed a series of questions to both groups; those who were retiring in a couple of years’ time, and those who had already retired for at least 2 years. The survey’s comprehensive findings showed what and how much each group considered to be key issues was affected by their retirement status.
One of the most interesting sections was on the attitudes of those still working towards a potential loss of social connections once they retired:
“Compared to retirees, pre-retirees underestimate the psychological benefits of a job. Retirees show a greater appreciation for the loss of social interaction, mental challenge and sense of identity associated with work.”
The report highlighted five “blind spots” for pre-retirees that they often overlook. Interestingly, three of these focus on those psychological benefits of employment.
The mental stimulation and social interaction associated with work.
As the survey summary report says:
“You’ll miss the mental stimulation and social interaction associated with work.”
Consider just how many people you come into contact with on a daily basis during the working week, both in person and via emails, telephone calls , or just “being” in an environment with other people around you.
As a self-employed person, I know how spending hours at a stretch on your own can become remarkably lonely, even with the phone ringing and a busy Inbox. That’s one reason why I shared an office with another professional for many years, and why I’m going to be sharing my new home office with my wife Hazel and the dog!
The tenacity of your work identity.
My previous blog was about exactly this issue, especially for teachers. Once you no longer have a job title, or a full-time profession, who exactly are you? Perhaps that’s why so many retirees take years to transition from “I’m an ex-engineer” to “I’m enjoying my retirement” or similar.
It can be particularly tricky for those who have been in senior management. They often find it hard to shed the “boss” mentality too, after years of delegating to and organising others. (Bear in mind that this approach is something that will probably not go down well if your spouse is also retired….)
A “bumpy” transition from full-time work to full-time retirement.
As I’ve written about before, retirement is not an overnight flick of a lifestyle switch. It is a journey, and like all journeys, you need to prepare for it . You need to put in place what you’ll need both for that journey and for your arrival.
Just like a neighbour who discovered at the airport that her UK passport was out of date as far as the EU was concerned, but (luckily) OK for her Turkish holiday, there will be unexpected rocks in that retirement road that you need to avoid or overcome. So check that retirement list, then check it again!
Establishing structure in your retirement schedule.
Structure in retirement is vital, in my opinion. It doesn’t mean nailing down what you’ll be doing every hour of every day. It’s more about setting your retirement goals, and then putting in place the regular structure to support and achieve them.
It’s pointless to enter a golf tournament that’s going to be a stretch at your handicap, and then not putting in the regular hours of practice, coaching and fitness programme to do well rather than struggle. Needless to say, that may also have a financial implication in terms of expenditure, even before you decide you really need a new 9-iron or heel-toe clubhead putter… (OK, that’s all Greek to me but you get the idea!)
Equally, many retirees find they want to have regular events during the week, to help them organise their time for maximum enjoyment. These can vary from a further education class to a session in the Men’s Shed, a weekly film club or a day looking after the grandchildren.
Structure can also lead to a sense of purpose in retirement too, especially if one of the weekly events fulfils that need, such as volunteering, charitable work or some activity where you are genuinely ‘needed’.
Adopting a holistic approach to all elements of retirement
A holistic overview enables you to create and maintain a balance in retirement that supports your lifestyle and maintains good physical and mental health as part of it.
At Panthera LIFE we talk about the seven pillars of retirement, which are in addition to finances. Just like all balancing acts, any major imbalance will cause the whole thing to wobble, but if you’ve got an overview, you’ll quickly spot what is dominating (too much golf) or reduced (time with family), and then work to realign them. This is a technique that’s at the core of my 1 to 1 retirement coaching (see below).
Retirement coaching with Panthera LIFE
If you’re finding the thought of retirement daunting, or it’s just not living up to the hype, I’m here to help. As a trained retirement coach and financial planner, I specialise in ensuring people like you properly plan for and enjoy more of your retirement both now and for the next 30+ years.
(1) The Retirement Perspectives and Attitudes Survey 2023
Fritz Gilbert – The Retirement Manifesto
Eric Weigal. – Retire with Possibilities