How Do You Emotionally Prepare for Retirement?

If you’re in your 20s or 30s you’re not really thinking about retirement. The event seems too far away. A report by Morning Consult show that only 39% of adults start saving for retirement in their 20s. Moreover, just over 45% of Americans start saving in their 30s. The other 15% start in their 40s and a minority of 6% start saving in their 50s.

What is more, half of the American adults aged between 18 and 34 are not saving for retirement at all. However, if asked about the mount of savings needed for retirement, most Americans believe they need around $1.7 million, according to a survey by Charles Schwab.

So, we think about retirement and we don’t, at the same time. The thing is, retirement is more “complicated” on an emotional level than we might have thought. Some might say it’s like going through high school again, but with other challenges. One the one hand, you’ll feel quite excited and liberated when you are nearing retirement. On the other hand, you’ll experience fear and anxiety.

Retirement Means a New Routine

Decades of a certain routine will end. There won’t be any happy Fridays leading to the weekend or boring Mondays coming back to work. Some people might identify with their jobs so much that they might find it impossible to retire. These people will find it hard to settle in a new routine without work.

Boredom could lead to the feeling of uselessness and even anxiety. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, retired men are 40% more likely to experience depression than employed men. So, retirement might be tough on the most active people, people who say “I work, therefore I am”.

Think About Your Identity, What You Lose and What You Earn as You Retire

Funny thing is, we spend more time planning our wedding than we do our retirement. For most, retirement is just an elusive thought in the normal hustle and bustle of working life. Most people are so passionate about what they’re doing that they might end up identifying themselves with their jobs.

This is why, when retirement time comes, they might feel really out of place, restless and lost. Sociologists advise that it is important to think about your identity when you’re nearing retirement. You need to take some time to reassess who you really are, what you might lose and what you might gain from retirement.

Retirement is a crucial point for most of us and no one can really escape it. In that point it is important to redefine your purpose and find another meaning to your life apart from your job and old routine. Psychologists advise that you start constructing a framework of your “new life” about three years before retirement.

After retirement, you need to give yourself another couple of years to get the hang of things and let life become “normal” again. Some people might find this transition really easy, while others might struggle with it.

Retirement Is a Mental Process

You do not just retire tomorrow. You need to know it is a process and that you need to make some preparations in advance and then allow yourself some time to get used to it. There are 5 known phases of retirement that are generally accepted today:

The Pre-Retirement Phase

This is when you mostly come to the realization that retirement is going to happen soon. This is the phase where you need to prepare for retirement, both emotionally and also financially.

The Honeymoon Phase

As you might have guessed it, this is the first month or the first couple of months after you’ve retired. In this time, most people celebrate the newly-found sense of freedom. However, this is also the phase where negative emotions creep in. From excitement you can rapidly go to fear, anxiety, discomfort.

In order to fight these negative feelings, you need to start creating some new routines that will make your life happier again; you basically need to learn again what to do with your time.

The Disappointment Phase

This phase will also come after the honeymoon. This is where reality hits you and you might feel a little disillusioned about retirement. Maybe some of the plans that you’ve made about retirement are just not happening and you might steer down into depression.

However, if you’ve prepared for retirement in advance and already created some nice healthy habits and routines, then this phase might skip you. If not, you need to know it will be a little rocky, but it will pass also.

The Reorientation Phase

This is where you get new ideas of new activities, you start putting your dreams and plans into action and you start to get some satisfaction out of retirement. Things might still get rocky sometimes, but you’re on the good track. You begin to have social activities and routines, you begin new projects, you start to get a hang of the retirement life.

The Stability Phase

This is where you really start to live and enjoy retirement and see that it could be as beautiful and fulfilling as any other phase of our lives.

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