38 Replies Latest reply on Jul 11, 2013 6:31 PM by PRguy

    Psychology of retirement

      This site needs a separate section on the psychology of retirement. I have been doing a lot of reading on this topic. It is largely ignored by the financial planning community yet it is a major factor in deciding to retire and how happy one will be in retirement.
        • Re: Psychology of retirement
          Agreed.  Most of my contemporaries are afraid of retiring because they haven't thought out who they are if they are not their job.  In some cases they would make more money retired than working but say, "I don't know what I'd do".  Transition from home to kindergarten, from elementary to junior high, from junior high to high school, from high school to college and college to work is well studied and part of common lore.  But the transition from work to retirement has issues that many haven't anticipated, other than a vague "Well, I won't have to go to work anymore" concept.  Those who had difficulty with transitions at earlier parts of their lives, such as marriage, school, military service, divorce and so on will likely have transition difficulties moving into retirement.
            • Re: Psychology of retirement
              Very well stated. I am in the position of being able to retire and make more than I make now. But I haven't figured out what retirement means for me. I would like to hear from others who have similar thoughts.
                • Re: Psychology of retirement
                  Some wisdom I followed.  When you do actually retire give yourself a month, or some months of time, to do nothing and refuse to commit to anything.  I had worked or gone to school year round from after the summer before my senior year of high school.  The last time I had nothing to do was when I was 16 and I had no money and my parents wouldn't let me do what I wanted to do.  When I retired I had the time, the money and no parents.  I just couldn't remember what it was I wanted to do!

                  That time away from home without commitments and no one trying to sign me up to do things, now that they figured I had all this time, gave me an opportunity to refine my life goals and to grow my refusal skills so that I was better able to do what I wanted and not so much what others wanted me to do.
                    • Re: Psychology of retirement
                      I agree with Viking!
                        • Re: Psychology of retirement

                          The pre-Boomer generation tended to socialize around 'like-minded' - church, social club, etc. Boomers, OTOH, make the majority of their friendships through work. The advantage is that one meets people one normally never would, if one stayed restricted to a single neighborhood or area. This can be a true cultural and socioeconomic enrichment.

                          The difficulty is that without work, many  Boomers lack the ready social contacts our parents enjoyed. We are validated through work; this is where we get our praise and positive feedback and 'water cooler' conversations. When that ends, what does a retiree (or laid-off worker) do instead?

                          My DH and I have a lot of hobbies, and are making an effort to stay connected to friends/family who still work (we're pretty much the first ones in our immediate group to retire). We love being able to run errands mid-day/mid-week, avoiding weekend crowds; we love the absence of rush hour commute and traffic hassles. We love being able to see our friends whenever it's convenient for them, and not have to worry about fitting it in between daily errands and stressful work schedules.

                          We find there aren't enough hours to get everything done! We are doing some traveling together, which takes time to organize (love, love, love the Net). In fact, I still haven't updated my new blog about our last trip, and that was two months ago. We can now spend hours on the PC cruising our various special interest forums without worrying about some IT tech banning a website from our computers.

                          If you find life interesting, there is so much to do and experience that is now open to you. We are foodies and try new restaurants; we can take spur-of-the-moment walks along the water or through a state park; we can sip iced teas and read books on the patio if it's too warm inside the house. No hassles, no stress, no demands, no performance appraisals - it's a good time so enjoy it as long as it lasts!

                          If we do get bored, there's so many organizations that need help and would love volunteers. But we're still in the early stage of retirement, so we haven't gotten there yet. Good luck to all of you as you figure out what your new goals are - don't any of you have even a small 'bucket list'?

                      • Re: Psychology of retirement
                        I formally retired (age 62) as it was THE right time after 35 years of success.... until my grandchildren moved to another state and I was left with too much "alone time." 
                        I decided to return to work in the same field where I felt comfortable, and had an opportunity to learn more about additional sections of the work. My first year back I worked about  about 5 months and have found that it is perfect for me.  I have an opportunity to still contribute to society, comment to others that I am still in the work force, and be as busy as I want to be on any given day. Out of the country trips are also scheduled at twice per year. 
                        I still have a long to do list, travel with my husband who is semi retired and works (low pay-but change of career passion) happily about 8 days a month. 
                        I am happy in this phase of my semi retirement and want to know how others are adjusting. It is very private to me as I hear about the silk painting, book reading, and kiln activities that others are experimenting with as they finally have the time to do what they want to do as retirees. I am still searching for my hobby talent. (go to the gym 35 days a week)
                        I am blessed with a good pension, but like the extra money that this work contributes to my travel funds!
                        Any thoughts?
                        Happy and still in transition!

                          • Re: Psychology of retirement
                            A few years ago I stepped out of a very stressful senior management job and was going to retire.  A few collegues convinced me to stay on part-time in an advisory role.  I think a transition from full -time to retirement would have been a problem in retrospect. By working part-time ( three days per week) I'm still connected with collegues, whose company I treasure, enjoy not having burdensome responsibilities and absolutely love helping the younger folks navigate their way through their careers.  I feel that I'm connected, productive and having fun while being able to travel with my wife and enjoy long weekends and family.
                            I think it is all about having the right blend of activities such as lesiure fun, time with your spouse and children, and feeling productive.  The right balance provides one with positive things to fill up the day and enough time to relax as well.  Only you can find and maintain the right mix that balances your personality with your situation. When you find it you will know it ,and it is not siting home
                            watching TV news unfold minute by minute.
                          • Re: Psychology of retirement
                            I so understand your situation. I also work for a college and when spring and winter break come around I am lost. I use to become depressed, not knowing what to do with myself. I've started making a todo list for these times. Which includes helping others, this may help. Also remember you can always say no!!
                            • Re: Psychology of retirement
                              I haven't contributed to this discussion since the very beginning, so after a long interim it's interesting for me to read the posts of so many others. There seems to be a great need by many to have the psychological validation of worth through their job. This ties in with my original observation that Boomers are the first generation to really define their social circle through their career, not by our parents' criteria of church or culture.
                              I've been retired since mid-2006 and my DH retired at the start of 2010. We have always had a mix of 50% shared activity and 50% individual activity. This works well for us and joint retirement has been extremely fulfilling.
                              DH loves being retired and is intensely focused on his lifelong hobby while being able to spend more time on his health (hiking and yoga are his favorites). We both spend hours on the computer which subs for the daily social contact we used to have - only we can "pick it up and put it away" whenever we feel like it, instead of being tied to a clock and a calendar.
                              We see most of our friends/family on weekends or evenings, because they still are working. We can sleep late, or take a nap if we're tired; shower in the middle of the day, and do as much or as little as we want to do. We travel around the area - the San Francisco Bay Area is one of the great areas to live in - and enjoy places without the weekend crowds and jammed-up freeways.
                              We planned well and were able to ride out the 'bumps' in the economy. We planned for the worst that might happen, and that gave us the economic 'wiggle room' that everyone needs. Despite our making less money and having more debt in our thirties than our peers, good financial planning (I used to work for an independent CFP, so I learned that planning is NOT investing, saving or budgeting) helped us retire early so that we are still physically able to enjoy our free time.
                              My MIL lives with us. She is a textbook example of what not to do in retirement. She doesn't drive, has no hobbies, can barely read (combination of a sixth grade education and dementia), and hasn't made a single new friend in at least twenty years. All her old friends are dying off, and her days consist of watching TV and playing mah-jongg games on the computer. She refuses to get involved with senior centers (we've tried) and her strength is declining as she won't exercise or eat correctly on her own. She is in total denial about her poor eyesight/hearing, her inability to walk without falling, and aging in general. She's a very nice woman, but she's lost without her long-dead husband, and is unable to make a life for herself.
                              • Re: Psychology of retirement
                                I'm semiretired, meaning I am collecting early retirement since being laid off, but teaching part time in continuing education through several outlets. What I teach is about the psychological transitions to retirement, following the old adage, "teach what you know". The demand for such a course is high and my classes fill easily. Structure, identity, relationships and where to live are the top issues for people. Two interesting issues I personally have had to confront are 'what to do in all the extra time I now spend at home', no longer having long transit time and work day, and how to use my creativity and curiosity in ways that keep my mind, body and soul stimulated. A successful retirement, I believe, requires a lot of reflection. And, as a 90 year old friend recently told me, "you have to keep pushing yourself." 
                                  • Re: Psychology of retirement
                                    I am 64 and plan to retire in five months.  I feel fortunate in many ways.  First, I became active in my university's retirement association and have met many individuals who, knowingly or not, acted as my mentors and role models for what in Spanish they call, "La tercera edad," or third stage (of life). Second, over the years I've acquired many activities that I've pursued outside of work. I've served on many volunteer boards, have started yoga classes, take piano lessons and study Spanish. In my head are plans for a novel. I know that some of the activities I've been pursuing I will continue, perhaps with a different focus and more intensity. Finally, I've been fortunate enough that I won't need to work if I don't want to, although people already have offered me paying gigs for the coming year.  I also know that this first year will be like "version 1.0" of software: a nice idea that will contain many bugs.  I also feel fortunate that I always constructed my self-image in many ways apart from my day job. I am greatly looking forward to my coming adventures.
                              • Re: Psychology of retirement
                                When children are asked to describe themselves, they say, "I like baseball, and videogames.I don't like scary movies but I like to play at the beach" etc.  When adults are asked the same question they say, " I am the father of three grown sons, I work for the XYZ company where i work in the Personnel depart." etc. That is: children define themselves by their interests where adults tend to take their identity from their roles.  I am sorry to say that people who are strongly "role identified" are going to have a VERY hard time in retirement.  It is painful for me to think of the people who spent 50 years playing their roles and ignored their human individuality.  Probably the reason so many people just die or even commit suicide after retirement is because they realize they have wasted their life.  The great promas of being human is, however, we can reinvent ourselves at any time!  I had the great "opportunity" to find myself at age 50 divorced and without family or friends in a city a thousand miles from my home.  I HAD to sit down and ask myself, "Who is this guy sitting here?  What makes him special?  What does he care about?"  After having dealt with that experience, the rest of life, including retirement was relatively easy.  My former boss was the most singlemindedly work-dedicated person I ever met.  I was very worried about her when she went off into retirement.  She had no family or friends outside of work.  Her approach was: "This is just another job and I am going to do it very well."  And she did:  She knew she had to find a purpose.  She analyzed the opportunities and her strengths and she went into retirement as a new challenge.  Her retirement was very successful -- as far as I con tell.
                                  • Re: Psychology of retirement
                                    On that subject of job identification...
                                    Nearing retirement, I am going to print up business cards with my name on it, nothing more. (maybe email contact info)
                                    No department,institution,field. I think that will ease the adjustment.
                                    I am in a state system, like others, that would prefer senior faculty retire, as a cost-cutting measure. One needs to remind oneself it is nothing personal, nobody has decided that I am, in particular, expendable.
                                    • Re: Psychology of retirement
                                      I highly recommend The Mature Mind: The Positive Power of the Aging Brain, and The Creative Age: Awakening Human Potential in the Second Half of Life, both by the late psychiatrist, Dr. Gene Cohen, for an enlightened perspective on retirement and the latter half of life.  Dr. Cohen recommends that when planning for retirement, in addition to developing a diversified financial portfolio, we should also establish a diversified social portfolio that includes both individual and group activities; and that we balance high energy and low energy activities with high mobility and low mobility ones.  Just as early planning is beneficial for financial aspects of retirement, early attention to social relationships and diverse activities and interests throughout life can contribute to a balance social portfolio during the retirement years.

                                      I found both books to be fun and easy reading!
                                        • Re: Psychology of retirement
                                          Thanks for the two books you recommend. I will try to read them soon. Meanwhile I will continue exercising, social networking, sewing, reading, and taking care of my dog.
                                            • Re: Psychology of retirement

                                              Hi All ~

                                              Great to read your posts ~ Having worked in the field of psychology and psychotherapy, I was blessed with prepartion of a sort for "retirement" ~ What I tell most people is that I am not retired ~ I am in the "next stage of living" and now wonder how I accomplished all I did ~ e.g being a widow at 24 with a 2 1/2 yo son, attending college, owning a home and working part time and trying to have a "social life" as well ~ I just did "what I had to do" ~ then later married again for 18 1/2 yrs ~ widow again ~ still working and caring for self and house ~ moved back to hometown ~ still working ~ met and married again still working ~ widow again ~ mother died ~ only aunt died & took care of them all ~ so now ~ I am learning to enjoy the "single life" and the "now" stage of life. "If not Now, when?

                                              Now ~ freedom and freedom is not so easy at the beginning ~ it makes one "responsible" for their time ~ So here I am actively involved in walking daily with my dog, meditating, journaling, painting, taking art workshops, going to lunch with friends/family, joining a small art group ~ writng a blog ~ (http://artmusedog.blogspot.com) ~ and so on ~ Life is good ~ and truly what you make it. Time is the gift and hope to live a long healthy life ~ Going to NC for Xmas to son's for Xmas and taking the "wee dog" and grateful ~

                                              Wishing you all well.

                                              hugs and namaste,


                                                • Re: Psychology of retirement
                                                  Really like what you said about freedom not being so easy and....making you responsible for your time. How true.
                                                  Right now, I feel like I'm wasting some days. I'm procrastinating even over little things.  Will this get better?
                                                    • Re: Psychology of retirement

                                                      Most definitely ~ think about the word "transition" ~ which is where you are at ~ It is like a bridge span from "previous life" to "new life" ~ takes sometime to evaluate and just "be" to deciding "how do you want to spend your time?" and taking steps towared doing just that ~ and it is okay to "smell the roses" so to speak before you get on the "path" that is "your path" ~ Look for what you love to do ~ what might give you joy? what is a passion that you always thought you would like to do and what it might take to get there ~ Exploratory time ~ so explore and enjoy each day for what it is ~ Suggest book Living in the Now ~ Ekhart Tolle ~ and journaling each day ~ exploring thoughts etc

                                                      Keep posted on what and how you are doing ~ namaste, Carol

                                                        • Re: Psychology of retirement
                                                          thank you for this. I have been reading tonight. And now to sleep.
                                                          • Re: Psychology of retirement
                                                            I have been retired for two years, never married, and now am a caregiver for my 92 year old mother along with a few of my sisters. I have been traveling back and forth from to her home which is  in a very very small town for the past year and a half. I live in large city and this has been changeling to say the least. I appreciate everything that I have read. Retirement is more mental and a big adjustment. You are correct you must find your passion and launch out into the unknown. It is not easy but that is life. Staying positive is essential to your overall health.
                                                            Have a blessed rest of the year.
                                                  • Re: Psychology of retirement
                                                    Thank you so much, zendog3.  With retirement date soon approaching, your words are helping me to cope with the feeling of stepping off a cliff.  I will be asking myself the same questions as you did.  My life has not been wasted.  I love my job, my coworkers, students, and feel great about my performance here. I love life and people and now I feel confident that I'll love this new chapter just as much.  I have hobbies, community involvement, friends and family all over the country. I really like your supervisor's attitude.  Oh, what  adventures lie ahead.  Thank you.
                                                      • Re: Psychology of retirement
                                                        From my perspective, a number of important observations have been made in this discussion. First, what has been called the "psychology of retirement", but which might more accurately be termed the personal dimensions of retirement, has been largely ignored, both in the popular press and in the scholarly literature. Yet, such matters as family relationships, friendships, feelings of self-worth, personal growth, and how we invest our time are all critical components to a fulfilling retirement, in my view. Such topics definitely warrant fuller discussion and thought.
                                                        Over the past few years I have had the experience of going from full-time work to part-time consulting myself and also of interviewing retired professional men and women about their personal experiences. I have found it useful in discussing what has been learned to focus on the transitions, opportunities and challenges associated with this phase of life. Examples of transitions we face early in retirement include changes in family relationships and friendships brought about by leaving work and having additional discretionary time. We have opportunities for investing ourselves in areas of service and personal growth that our work life limited or precluded. And there are such challenges as developing an identity that is not work related and in the longer term coming to grips with declining physical capabilities.
                                                        Might it be useful to think of structuring the further discussion on the psychology of retirement along these lines? Or maybe there is a better way to structure this discussion.
                                                          • Re: Psychology of retirement
                                                            Well said, Jack.  I agree the focus of this group should be directed to the actual challenge of transition.  I would be very interested in hearing how others face this life changing episode.  Developing an identity apart from our work intrigues me.  It is a positive step which will lead to other areas of investiture.  Great food for thought.  Thank you.
                                                        • Re: Psychology of retirement
                                                          I am 64, reasonably well employed in a big city and work for an employer who will let me work as long as I am able to.  I have thought and thought about retirement options; every day the alarm goes off at 6:30 AM in the winter months, I tell myself this may be the last winter I have to do this - but like many others in the same boat, I have to answer - what the hell willl I do with myself if I quit working? Finally, I came to the conclusion - just keep working until forced out by factors beyond my control!  
                                                          • Re: Psychology of retirement

                                                            I enjoyed reading about the many retirees, and expecially Zendog3 and his boss  who considered retirement as a "challenge".   I recently retired at age 70, but then returned to work casual part time teaching nursing students at a local university.  I like the idea of "reinventing oneself", that is finding ways to keep oneself busy.  I only resigned because I wanted to spend more time with my  grandchildren, but love to be busy.

                                                            I love life and want to enjoy it as much as possible. I also volunteered to  work with those with developmental disabilities. It is time to give back to the communities, enjoy family, travel, and continue to seek new avenues to reinvent  ourselves. This formula should help to keep one well balenced and interested in life.

                                                          • Re: Psychology of retirement
                                                            You have raised a very important issue.  Retirement is about the transition to another major life stage that encompasses all aspects of our lives.  Often retirement is equated with the financial preparation and is called retirement planning.  This focus ignores all the other life arenas that are vitally important to plan for in order to have a happy and fulfilling "third age" of life.

                                                            Working with a life coach that specializes in retirement planning can be extremely helpful.  The best time to work with a coach is in the years just prior to retirement and the 2-3 years following retirement. 
                                                              • Re: Psychology of retirement
                                                                One important aspect of the psychology of retirement, especially for men, is the collapse of important social systems that support a lifelong identity structure.  Since everyone has 'issues', the collapse of such things as 'work identity' pushes these 'issues' sharply into awareness and they become mingled into current relationships. While pursuing important other activities can help re-structure or re-define the lifelong identity, the 'cat is out of the bag', so to speak, and using new retirement activity to 'stuff the cat back in the bag' only makes the relationship issues worse.  The best approach is to understand that these new issues are presenting themselves as an opportunity to actually enhance relationships in retirement by accepting these newly emerged issues and not 'hiding' them in current relationships. 
                                                                  • Re: Psychology of retirement
                                                                    This is an excellent topic of discussion! I am a researcher at Carnegie Mellon University studying just these kinds of issues! We are looking for people in the Pittsburgh area who have retired within the last 6 months or who are about to retire to participate in our psychology study.

                                                                    The purpose of this study is to understand thoughts and feelings that couples commonly experience while on the path to retirement. To participate in the study, you must be 55 years of age or older, married, and either you or your spouse must have retired within the last 6 months or be about to retire.  Participation requires two initial sessions, each of which will last no longer than 2 hours, and you will receive $80 as a couple for participating! 

                                                                    This research is being funded by the National Institute on Aging and has been approved by the Carnegie Mellon University Institutional Review Board. 

                                                                    If you have any questions about the study or if you are interested in participating, please contact Jennifer Tomlinson at jennifer.tomlinson@cmu.edu or (412)268-4193.

                                                                    Thank you,

                                                                    Jennifer Tomlinson, Ph.D.

                                                                      • Re: Psychology of retirement

                                                                        I've been participating in  these retirement discussions off and on for a couple of years now and it's been interesting to watch the shift in my own psychological outlook toward retirement.  At first, the majority of my posts were "I'm afraid I'll never be able to retire" as I watched my retirement savings lose 60% of their value almost overnight, and knowing that Social Security and Medicare will go bankrupt during my retirement years.  In the ensuing two years, the worsening state of the economy has forced me to re-evaluate my entire conception of "retirement" to such an extent that I no longer consider  it a viable option in the usual sense.  Instead, I am now questioning the validity of the very concept of retirement.

                                                                        After all, retirement has only been in practice for about 150 years.  Prior to the Industrial Revolution no one retired.  They worked until they either died or were incapacitated -- in which case they usually died within a few weeks or months of being unable to continue working.  My great-grandfather, for example, was struck and killed by a bus while crossing the street as he left work in 1946 ... at the age of 83.  My grandfather was the first in more than 30 generations of ancestors I've traced so far who actually retired.

                                                                        So now I'm wondering if retirement is even a valid concept.  Perhaps it's merely another of many failed 20th century social experiments that should be scrapped.  Leisure, not work, is the cause of the majority of our catastrophich health issues.  Now I can't decide if I'm onto a revolutionary concept of anti-retirement ... or if I'm merely trying to psychologically rationalize my personal inability to retire!

                                                                          • Re: Psychology of retirement
                                                                            Sensei2001 said...


                                                                            ... I am now questioning the validity of the very concept of retirement.

                                                                            After all, retirement has only been in practice for about 150 years.  ...

                                                                            So now I'm wondering if retirement is even a valid concept.  Perhaps it's merely another of many failed 20th century social experiments that should be scrapped.   ... or if I'm merely trying to psychologically rationalize my personal inability to retire!


                                                                            The nature of work has changed over the 150 years. Not many have a business that they can just keep plugging away at or a farm where there is always something that everybody can do to help. My experience was that as I got older, the employers didn't want to pay me what I was making at my profession any longer. What's the choice, Wal-Mart greeter (too young), flip burgers or shuffle around cleaning up, doing part time jobs at 20% of what I used to be paid for productive work, etc.? IMO many who are "planning" on working forever are going to find that the work they must do isn't the productive stuff they spent a lifetime preparing for and mastering.

                                                                            • Re: Psychology of retirement

                                                                              As my 65th birthday approached, I found myself unsure if retirement was what I really wanted to do.  Our society does not value people who are "unproductive."  Plus, I don't think most middle class people are overly laden with money.

                                                                              Then I had a health scare and it made up my mind.  I firmly believe, having lost several family members and friends in the last decade, that NO ONE  on their deathbed ever wishes they'd spent more time at the office or made more money.  More money is not going to be useful if you are not here to enjoy it.  Also, we could live a lot more simply than we do.  When did we decide we needed all this stuff we seem to require today?  Cell phones, internet, cable tv?  If  your basic needs are met, and you have a little money in the bank and good health, consider your fortunate.

                                                                              There is never a good time to have a baby, buy a house, or retire.  One just has to take the leap.  Colonel Harlan Sanders said, "There's no reason to be the richest man in the cemetery.  You can't do any business from there."

                                                                              There are lots of experiences out there for us.  I don't want to die, having never attempted them.  Write that novel, pant that picture, volunteer at the VA, travel, finish that degree -- the world awaits our final act.


                                                                                • Re: Psychology of retirement

                                                                                  Harlan Sanders' "richest man in the cemetery" is a meaningless concept to me.  I've been a multi-millionaire twice, and those were the two most miserable periods of my life.  Money is a curse; a necessary evil in the modern world, since it's no longer practical to be completely self-sufficient.  I don't work to become rich.  I work for food, shelter, and other necessities.

                                                                                  And I don't find any fulfillment in my job.  My vociation is merely the work I do in order to earn the money I need for essentials.  My fulfillment comes elsewhere.  And I do not allow my work to interfere with my avocations -- the things that do provide my fulfillment.  So I've already written that novel (22 of them, with over 500 rejection slips!), I went through my "Bob Ross" phase and tried my hand at painting, I'm terminally (in every sense of the word!) degreed, I travel, and I volunteer an average of 12 hours a week.

                                                                                  So I don't understand what benefits I will gain by "retiring" other than to reduce my income and thereby reduce my options and opportunties.  I certainly don't want to increase my leisure time.  Leisure kills!

                                                                                  • Re: Psychology of retirement
                                                                                    I can't agree with you more! I retired in 2010 and could have worked longer. My husband retired four years before me and we wanted to make sure we have all the quality time possible. Nothing is worth more! There are some new health issues we are facing, but we are doing it together and making plans to do the things that have been lifelong dreams. We are amazed on how much LESS money we can actually live a quality life with in retirement! And we do lots more than when we both worked!
                                                                                      • Re: Psychology of retirement
                                                                                        It is amazing to me that you can live on "less" money with inflation, stock market crashing, and savings earning less than 1%.  I would agree you could have a quality life if you own your own home and have no desire to ever leave home. Gas prices alone will kill you.

                                                                                        We are retired for several years now (not by choice but by businesses going out of business) and no one wanting to hire an old person.

                                                                                        How can you survive with "health issues?'  Who pays the dr.?
                                                                                        The only thing saving our sanity is our grandchild that we babysit many days a week. And our good health.

                                                                                        You have a great outlook!
                                                                                        I'd be still working but at least I can now "teach" my grandchild with 30 years of teaching materials and insight.
                                                                                    • Re: Psychology of retirement

                                                                                      Thank you for your postings. The postings on this page raise many interesting points about the history of retirement and one's fears about it.  We do live in a society that favors the "productive" and is youth obsessed and oriented. But, there are many things about society's pressures and demands that are unhealthy on a psychological level. Hopefully as we age we have enough wisdom to know that the only voices we need to listen to  are our own and our connection to spirit or God.

                                                                                      I am beginning to view retirement as the next phase in a life that has had many chapters. The scarey thing is that at age 57, with three prior cancer diagnosis(caught early with good prognosis) , I don't have the luxury of imaging years and years ahead...unlimited opportunity. But, truthfully, none of us really ever has that. There are always limitations in life, be they limits in age, opportunity, eduction, money, personal fears....etc...

                                                                                      I am ready to march to my own drummer. I want to paint, and read and write, cook, love, travel  and create and  do what I want. I fear losing my professional identity.  I fear managing my money, I fear illness. But, I will always work at something and I am beginning to get excited about the prospects for the best, most fulfilling next chapter in a life that has been rich, happy and full of struggle.

                                                                                      I refuse to accept societal definitions of my aging self as obsolete, over the hill and unproductive. I have never been stronger on a spiritual level, I have never been wiser, I have never been happier, or felt more fulfilled. This life is not a dress rehearsal, it is the show, the production, it is happening right now. Cast away all negativity and allow yourself the joy and abundance that abounds in every day, every moment.

                                                                                        • Re: Psychology of retirement

                                                                                          I've enjoyed reading through this forum.  I like the idea of 're-inventing' ourselves as we explore life beyond our careers.   I retired 4 years ago and was able to 'mentor' for the next year.  Thereafter a family member's health consumed my time, and still does.  Recently my husband retired - although he says he is 'semi-retired'.  The transition is definately challenging for him. 

                                                                                          The idea of 'psychology' of retirement fits with my belief system.  I believe it is a developmental stage/process and at the core is our backbone outlook on life in general.  I also believe we have options to work on our outlook (Seligman , etc) and direct to more optimistic thinking.

                                                                                          We found a little book that has helped us frame conversations about this time.  "Shaping a Life of Significance for Retirement" by Jack Hansen and Jerry P. Haas.  It is something we just 'happened upon' and I've shared it with several others who have found it very helpful.  What is most helpful has been the brief format of the chapters with 3-4 questions for thought or discussion.



                                                                                            • Re: Psychology of retirement
                                                                                              Thank you for these very kind words about the book that Jerry Haas and I wrote. The book is based on insights shared with us by retired professional men and women from around the country, and we have found what they shared helpful to us as well as to others. And I really like your perspective on the importance of the mindset with which we approach both the opportunities and  challenges of this phase of life, both of which are very real.
                                                                                  • Re: Psychology of retirement
                                                                                    I've read through the discussion with interest.   Personally I have two issues that are difficult - structure and decision.  Structure is difficult because I am at my best when an external framework is in place.  Having to teach an 8:00 class means getting up at 4:30 for me which I do several days a week during the semester.  I am focused, organized and happy.  So what happens during the summer (my pre-retirement practice)?  Getting up early becomes a choice.  Days become more variable and more dependent on my own choices.  The balance between indulgence and productivity is more difficult and carries psychological consequences.  The bottom line is the structure imposed by work makes me a happier person than I am when faced with too much "what do I want to do today?" 
                                                                                    The second issue is decision (which I've already connected with structure as in having structure reduces the need to decide).  But the aspect of deciding to retire is  impossible.  I teach college and we are expected to notify the Dean by Dec 15th if we are going to retire at the end of the academic year.  Well  I don't feel like retiring in the Fall.  I do during Spring semester, but the experience of a summer of choices makes me welcome the structure and I'm back in for another year.