Aaah, retirement. No more alarm clocks, deadlines, or responsibilities. No more difficult bosses. No more performance evaluations.
Endless time to travel, to catch up on reading, to enjoy afternoon cocktails on the verandah.
If you could just get yourself to retirement, you would be free: stress-free, worry-free, and carefree.
We interrupt this fantasy to introduce reality.
Retirement is just another stage of life. Remember life? It’s that thing that has happened to you for all those years leading up to today. And here’s the thing about life—it keeps happening even in retirement.
Retirement won’t magically deliver you to a life with no problems. Retirement simply replaces one set of challenges with another set. A set that I would argue is much easier to live with, but as challenges tend to be, still challenging. Retirement is just like real life that way.
But just like real life, you can still love retirement despite its challenges. Not everyone experiences the exact same challenges, or to the same degree. For example, boredom was never really an issue for me, but I do know that it can be a big deal for some retirees. Frankly I was more bored when I was working.
But I did struggle with guilt when I first retired. Guilt for not accomplishing enough each day, guilt for not volunteering some of my newfound time, heck, guilt just for the fact that I was retired while others are off at work.
I also had trouble telling new acquaintances that I was retired, trouble explaining what it was I did all day; I even had trouble spending time on the things I actually wanted to spend my time on the most.
There are plenty of issues you may have to work out in retirement, guilt, boredom, laziness, and money worries, to name a few.
If you think you are only going to get the good with no bad in retirement, you are not being realistic. Yes, you’re trading in the problems of the work world: stressful days, sleepless nights, long commutes, mind-numbing meetings, limited vacation time, and a general need to hurry from here to there.
But it’s a trade-off. In retirement, you’ll have to figure out your new identity, find meaningful activities to fill your time, and work to develop some new relationships. And when you give up work, you are giving up some financial security and a built-in social life as well.
I’m not trying to be discouraging. Those of you that read my blog regularly know that I think the benefits of retirement far outweigh the drawbacks. But if you find yourself struggling for your footing in retirement, that just means you’re normal. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you made a huge mistake giving up that nine to five.
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