Over the past couple of weeks I have had a few different conversations around retirement and what that looks like and means for different clients. As with any life transition, retirement can bring with it a whole host of emotions including; relief, joy, nervousness, fear, and excitement. In today’s world an individual might be leaving a company they have been a part of for 40 years or they might be saying goodbye to the work world in general as they may have changed jobs several times. In western society job title seems to be closely linked with identity. Right or wrongly so, it is one of the first questions we often ask when meeting someone new. Where a person works or what they do allows us to categorize them and gives us a sense of who they are (or who we think they are). It is also how a lot of individuals see themselves. Retiring and connecting to a new phase of life can be daunting but also a lot of fun. For anyone thinking of retirement or for those of you who are retired, here are a few things to keep in mind to enjoy these years.
1) Keep some structure. Part of retirement means not having to be at a certain place at a certain time. However, it is still important to have some structure and routine in daily life. Have fun creating a new routine around activities and commitments that fit for you. Make sure every day isn’t a pajama day and that you are getting up and being productive.
2) Find your hobbies. Maybe this is the time to learn or discover new hobbies or maybe you finally have the time to enjoy your hobbies. Either way, incorporate different hobbies into your life to keep you engaged, productive and help provide structure (see above).
3) Stay connected. For many people, their social life is tied to work so retirement can feel lonely. Make a plan to stay in touch with work friends and look for ways to make new connections. Maybe it means joining a coffee group or jumping into an activity that is designed around retirees.
4) Consider a part time job or volunteering. If you are worried about boredom and not having enough to do, think about working part time or volunteering for a company that really fits for you. If you’re an avid gardener, maybe it means joining the team at a greenhouse. If you have a passion for pets, maybe this is your opportunity to get involved with your local animal shelter.
5) It’s okay to feel lost. Retirement is a major life change and it is absolutely okay to be overwhelmed by it all. Have some compassion and patience with yourself as you go through this transition and don’t be afraid to use your supports. If this is feeling like a particularly daunting process, it might be a good idea to speak with a therapist and let them help you sort out your feelings as you go through this journey and start your next chapter.