It’s coming. Can’t stop it. You’re excited right? Who wouldn’t be excited about retiring?
What do you mean retirement anxiety? It’s not as if you didn’t know it was going to happen. For something as fully predictable as retirement, it’s shocking how many of us are overwhelmed at the notion of leaving our old lives behind. Or is it that we’re just not sure of what lies ahead?
In my retirement coaching practice, my clients routinely express a generalized anxiety about their approaching retirement. Not surprisingly, the ones who don’t feel that way, have been planning their retirement for years and have a pretty clear idea of what it’s going to look like. Most of us find it difficult to think in the long term, and retirement is long term; it can last longer than your working life. We tend to procrastinate, because we have the illusion that we will have more time tomorrow. But retirement eventually comes, and without a great plan in place, so too comes the anxiety…
Why Do You Have It?
Retirement anxiety tends to surface when individuals are asked to visualize how the rest of their lives might look. How will you spend your days? Who will you spend them with? Where will you live? Even the most thoughtful amongst us may experience some anxiety when faced with these questions.
For years, our sense of worth and identity have revolved around the work that we do. It provided a sense of value, an identity, a social network, structure to our day, self-esteem and countless other benefits. It can be a shock when retirement arrives and you have nowhere to go, and nothing to do. It is only natural to grieve over the loss of something that took decades to build.
According to Richard P. Johnson, author of The New Retirement, “we must let go of our previous definition of ourselves and begin crafting a new definition that serves us in this new life we are carving for ourselves.” Without a successful resolution of this dilemma, we can suffer a loss of identity, boredom, and feelings of irrelevance.
And who wants that?
Is There A Cure?
So, what’s the cure for retirement anxiety? Truthfully, it can be a daunting process, but it is manageable when started several years before you actually retire. The antidote to this anxiety is to redefine yourself well before you leave your work. The cure follows deep reflection and an attitude that retirement is a time of possibilities as opposed to a time of problems; a beginning and not an ending.
Redefine myself? How do I do that? Stay tuned…