Some of our clients can't wait to retire. They will describe in vivid detail all the ways they plan to spend this new free time that they saved for over a lifetime. But for others, the word retirement brings up feelings of fear and dread. Below is a sampling of comments I hear:
Where will I want to live?
What if I stop working and the stock market crashes as it did 10 years ago?
What if I buy property in another state and hate living there?
What if I quit too soon?
If I stop working, I’ll be alone and lonely.
If I stop working, then I'll be forced to spend every waking moment with my spouse.
If I stop working, my cognitive functions may slow.
But I enjoy the prestige that comes with my job.
I like Saturdays, but I'm not sure I'll like it if every day feels like a Saturday.
Not surprisingly, 69 percent of retirees have challenges adapting to their new routine.  Working necessitates routines and structure. In its study, "8,000 Days of Retirement," The MIT AgeLab discusses how difficult it is to break a routine that actually begins in kindergarten: Get dressed. Eat breakfast. Go to school or work. Come home. Eat. Go to bed. Retirement can break this routine, and with a lot more time on their hands, boredom can set in for retirees.
In his book, "What Color is Your Retirement?" Dr. Richard Johnson contends that there are five benefits from work that we need to replace in retirement:
- Financial compensation;
- Time management;
- A sense of utility (or purpose);
As Dr. Johnson notes, these five benefits "have become a part of us to such a degree that we cannot simply discard them without some emotional, psychological or even spiritual consequences."
In our next blog, we will delve into what the MIT AgeLab calls the "Honeymoon Phase of Retirement," where we address many of the concerns above. Meanwhile, know that if the word "retirement" makes you cranky or sad, you're not alone.
1Retired Baby Boomers Face Emotional Adjustments, USA Today, 2/3/15. Survey included 1,000 people, ages 60 to 73, who retired in the last five years from their primary profession and who have at least $100,000 in investable assets. Most recent data available used.