Many people have a financial plan for retirement, but not a psychological one. Here are some tips to help you plan. Some retirees enjoy unscheduled time letting each day unfold. They don’t have an agenda, and they are comfortable not having one.
When Nancy Schlossberg retired at 67 she thought it would be smooth sailing. It was a difficult transition.
Over the next few years, Schlossberg, a psychology professor at the University of Maryland, interviewed more than 150 retirees and found that many people spend years preparing for the transition, but others don’t think about it until they actually quit working. Her research became books called Revitalizing Retirement: Reshaping Your Identity, Relationships, and Purpose; and Retire Smart, Retire Happy.
She recommends taking a hard look at three areas of your life when you retire:
Your identity. You can think of it as what you put on your business card or your tagline under your e-mail signature, she says.
“If you are a roofer, painter, artist, teacher – that’s part of your identity. One man who retired as CEO of a Fortune 100 company had plenty of money for his golden years, but he said his retirement felt ‘hollow’ because he hadn’t thought about his new identity.”
Some people may be OK with saying “retiree,” but others will be happier if they strive to define a post-retirement identity that will provide structure to their days and meaning to their lives.
Your purpose or mission. This is related to your identity. It’s what gets you going in the morning. It’s your passion. You may have several different missions or purposes during your golden years, Schlossberg says. You can ask yourself what you wish you had done in your life and turn that into a new focus.
Your relationships. When you leave your work life, you often lose touch with people who were once a part of your everyday life, so you need to develop new relationships and new communities. You might do that by engaging in volunteer activities, going to a health club or even hanging out at Starbucks, Schlossberg says.
This is the perfect time to spend more time with your children and grandchildren.
Your relationship with your spouse or partner may change, because you’ll probably be spending a lot more time together, Schlossberg says. Sometimes too much togetherness causes people to get on each others’ nerves for minor things, so couples may need to negotiate some new ground rules, she says.
Schlossberg identified the following ways that people approach retirement:
Continuers keep using existing skills and interests, but modify them to fit retirement. “I am a continuer,” she says. “I don’t teach or have a salary, but I still write and speak about things I’ve always been interested in.”
Adventurers see retirement as an opportunity to make daring changes in their lives and try new things. Often, people take some of the regrets they have about things they wish they’d done and turn them into a plan, she says.
Searchers explore new options through trial and error. They talk to people in the fields they’re interested in and volunteer for different projects or programs. If they don’t like one, they try something else. This is much like what happens to students who don’t know exactly what they want to do when they graduate, so they search and struggle to find their way, Schlossberg says.
Easy gliders enjoy unscheduled time letting each day unfold. They don’t have an agenda, and they are comfortable not having one.”
Involved spectators care deeply about the world, but engage in less-active ways. This may be an art director who is retired but still goes to art museums, or a politician who is still a news junkie, she says.
a post-retirement identity that will provide structure to their days and meaning to their lives.