Your finances often overshadow the “softer” side in the runup to retirement. Many pre-retirees assume they will just “figure out” the personal transition when the time comes, but the emotional, social and physical considerations are just as important as the financial ones.
The Identity Transition
How will it feel when you’re no longer a full-time doctor, accountant, insurance agent or [fill in the blank]? Our careers are often entwined with our identities, and it’s important to consider how you’ll react to the void left when this chapter of life is over. Pursuing part-time or “encore” employment or enjoying a new role as a more-involved grandparent can help ease the emotional transition.
Additionally, retirement may also change personal dynamics at home. Spouses don’t usually retire at the same time. Suddenly having both spouses at home (or one working spouse and one retired) may result in competing priorities, shifts in household duties and getting accustomed to one another’s daily presence and habits.
Life will be different. Communication and preparation—ideally before your last day at work—will help you overcome the friction when navigating a new environment.
The Social Transition
Work often provides an automatic social interaction: You go to work and see the same people in your office or for after-hours get-togethers.
After you retire, you’ll have to decide how you might maintain those relationships and whether you’ll seek out new relationships through clubs, hobbies, volunteer/charity work. Your time spent with family might also increase or decrease, depending on your plans.
Social circles are vital to our health and happiness, particularly in retirement. Family and friends can:
- Offer new experiences and someone to spend time with
- Support you during difficult or stressful times
- Provide us with (or strengthen) a sense of belonging
The Physical Transition
Retirement may give you the freedom to travel, spend more time with friends and try out new activities. As you think about these opportunities, also consider your current health and fitness and how that might change over time.
Do you need to reconsider your housing situation? Many retirees consider downsizing, moving to retirement communities, changing climates, splitting time between two homes, moving closer to family—either for convenience or planning for future needs.
Your assessment can also help you plan for staying physically active during retirement. Consider your current fitness and decide whether you’ll start a new routine or adjust your existing exercise regimen.