Jane Young — It's Your Money

Everyone is aware of the need to financially prepare for retirement, but not much attention is directed toward planning for its emotional impact.

When people think of retirement, they envision newfound freedom and a never-ending vacation full of travel and recreation.

After several months full of leisure activities, however, they realize having fun isn’t enough. A study of 1,000 people ages 60 to 74, conducted by Ameriprise Financial, found two-thirds of respondents had difficulty transitioning from career to retirement.

The study also found 37% of respondents missed the day-to-day interactions with colleagues; 32% had difficulty getting used to a new routine; and 22% struggled to find purpose to their days.

Most of those interviewed were in control of the decision to retire, and more than half felt they were emotionally prepared.

After an initial sense of freedom, many retirees experience anxiety, fear and boredom. If you don’t replace your career with something meaningful, you might miss the sense of accomplishment that comes from completing projects, landing an account or getting raises and promotions.

Additionally, retirees often feel a sudden loss of identity. We spend our lives building our careers and creating a strong identity with what we do; the loss of professional association, status, title and prestige can harm our self-esteem.

The most serious threat to enjoying your retirement is often the loss of social interaction, friendships and engagement with professional associates.

Many retirees discover their entire social structure revolved around their career. As time passes, they become less connected with colleagues and work-related issues, which can result in isolation and loneliness.

To ensure a smoother transition, about three to five years before retirement, develop a plan on how you might spend your time.

Identify interests that you would like to pursue and set some goals on what you would like to accomplish. Set milestones to accomplish those goals and establish a structure or routine.

Find ways to use the skills and talents you developed while you were working. Consider a gradual transition into retirement by working part time or starting a small business.

Your plan might include consulting, physical activities, community engagement, learning a new language, mentoring, teaching, travel and pursuing hobbies. Engage in new activities and establish new social networks before retirement. Join organizations and meet new friends outside of your professional sphere.

Several years before retirement, start broadening your personal identity by expanding your interests and relationships beyond your career.

Jane Young is a fee-only certified financial planner, and she can be reached at jane@morethanyourmoney.com.

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