Retirement is so much more than giving up your active working life. Besides all the planning that goes into making sure that you are financially ready to take this step, something needs to readjust in your consciousness and brain. Sometimes that adjustment feels more like a disconnect than the right thing to do, and that is a signal that you need to re-evaluate.
I personally failed at retirement. I had everything in place, according to my accountant, and the thought of just being able to hang out in Santa Barbara, take the boat out whenever I wanted, walk the dog, and actually read a book or two or even 20 sounded appealing. Yeah, I thought I was ready – but I wasn’t, and I don’t think I will ever be.
I have known some very, very happy retired people – I’m sure you do too. Maybe you are one of them. It may be only natural to think that if it works for those people, it will work for me too. And so I started the process of closing up shop. The planning it took to get there rivalled a royal wedding, but once I settled into retirement, it was perhaps one of the most unsettling feelings I have ever experienced.
Mind you, it wasn’t even full retirement. I still wrote my column and blog, still saw a couple of clients here and there, and my wife and I continued to go to Hollywood for screenings and events, but it wasn’t nearly enough. I felt that the day was still there for me to make a difference, and that just having fun was not going to do it.
I needed to get back to being me – perhaps a little slower, but still me. I like being creative and productive, and I needed to get going on something new and substantial.
Luckily, the revitalisation project didn’t take long to appear. It was a book offer, and just like every other book I have written, this one scared me at first (it’s part of my process). But I stalked it like a cat in a cage, surrounded it, and let it sink into me, knowing the whole time that I really wanted this. This is true, even though just a few months before, I did not think I would ever write another book.
If you have made the decision to continue working, to return to work, or to retire, I urge you to look into the emotional component as well as the financial.
Retirement planning is too often just focused on the money. It’s important to have a good financial plan, but you also have to consider how you will feel. If you go to the same place every day, you could miss it and the people who you work with as well as being part of something larger than yourself. I know it’s something we all think about, but perhaps not deeply enough.
There are now a number of therapists who specialise in life transition issues, and retirement is a biggie. If you are considering it, talk to someone besides your money people. We all need to pay the bills, but life is about more than just being able to do that. – Tribune News Service/Dr Barton Goldsmith
Dr Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, California, is the author of The Happy Couple: How To Make Happiness A Habit, One Little Loving Thing At A Time.
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