Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Emotional Retirement

Retirement itself can be a funny thing emotionally. Suddenly your entire world is turn upside down and shook a few times. For some people it's a great feeling like riding a roller coaster, for others it makes them feel a bit sick or detached from it all. Overall retirees actually share quiet a bit in common emotionally with high school students leaving their final year (as a reference point for anyone who isn't retired).

I've spend a few weeks digging around message boards to see how everyone reacts to it all, as well as talk to several people my parents age about people who have recently retired and how they feel about it. In general there appears to be a few different patterns around it.

First it is very common to actually miss your co-workers a bit. After all these are the people whom you spent most of your days with for years and depending what you do in retirement you will have very little contact with them and suddenly a lot less in common if you retire early and they remain working.

Then there is the decompression stage where waking up each morning is like a vacation. Your end up drunk on the absolute freedom to do what you want. Many early retirees’ caution about making any series decisions at this stage since you are still evolving into your retirement lifestyle for the first six months to a year.

After that two main profiles of people tend to emerge. Type 1 tends to have issues adapting to retirement. They often can feel bored by it all and often have feelings of regret around their retirement. This type is much more common in those who were forced into a retirement by a company downsizing or medical reason.

Type 2 tends to take to retirement like a fish to water. They are happy and engaged in the community and/or their families and almost never feel bored or regret their decision to retire.

Strangely enough between these two types income doesn't seem to be a huge factor. I've never really noticed a pattern of type 2 having more money than type 1. So what's the difference? Type 2 people tend to have a wide range of interests and set themselves specific goals or focuses in retirement. In the end they just prepared to fill in that suddenly huge block of 40 hours (or more) of your week with other things to do than work.

If you end up being a type 1 don't panic you can still turn into a type 2. I've personally seen someone pull this off. To change over you just have to sit back and develop some more interests and expand your hobbies a bit. Also setting a few goals or a focus to your retirement can help. Some examples include focuses in on the grandkids, learning a new language, visit family/friends around the world or even just in your own city/town. Most important of all is to do what you like. After all retirement is all about the freedom.


Mr. Cheap said...

I've really seen an amazing difference between how various people handle retirement. My parents, who always had rich interests outside of work, effortlessly adapted, and have full days now in retirement.

Some people retire and drop dead in under 6 months because they can't handle the change of pace. I met a doctor who was selling her share of her practice to her daughter, and was worried about how she'd put her days in.

I'm happy for these people that they've found work they enjoy so much that its the focus of their lives. I also pity them a little...

GIV said...

Good to see you thinking about these issues. COnsidering your blog is devoted to the idea of retiring at 45, and all.

I know my parents are struggling with these issues. Not so much "how much?" but "what now?"

Canadian Dream said...

It's actually a bit weird for me right now as I'm just the right age to watch many of my older co-workers, family and friends hit retirement. So I get to learn from others experience, which is proving to be very interesting.