Every day in the United States, 10,000 baby boomers turn 65. No wonder we are all hearing about friends and family that are retiring or at least talking about it.
I have several friends that recently took the big step. One friend, who worked for the state of California for almost 30 years, was growing frustrated with his job. Deciding to retire was easy for him. He told me—“Some people worry about falling into a deep depression after they retire. I am expecting to fall into a deep elation!”. As far as I can see, his expectations have been met!
Another friend recently retired after working as a physician for 35 years. He and his wife are caring for his 93 year old mother, spending time with children and grandchildren who live nearby, and by all accounts, are busy and fulfilled. I have another friend, who is closing in on 67. Bill likes his job, likes to earn a good living, is in good health and doesn’t have any all season hobbies or interests. He plans to work until he can’t anymore.
While I am only 60, I have no interest in retiring any time soon. I love my job! And, I sense that I would not do so well in retirement. I suspect that I might get in my wife’s hair, who works from home. And like most working stiffs, who might want to sleep in on Monday morning if I had my druthers, the structure of work is good for me. Sure, I have hobbies and interests, but they are organized around the work week. I am not so confident that I would do well with wide open spaces of free time.
I see this frequently. Joe retires from Boeing and can’t wait to sleep in on Monday morning and spend his free time fishing, hunting, and puttering around in his wood shop. The first couple of weeks are great! He loves sleeping in and not worrying about when he has to go to bed. But after a month or two, he notices that he is getting less and less done. He’s still sleeping in, but now he starts to feel sluggish. And, what’s worse, he doesn’t know what to do with himself. He’s watching a lot of TV, but hasn’t done has much fishing or hunting as he thought he would. He’s been out to his shop—but isn’t really sure what project to start.
Let’s be realistic. Retirement is a huge life change for most adults. By the time the average individual retires, he or she may have spent 45 years as a worker bee. In my experience, women tend to do better than men. In our society, female identity tends to center around their relationships—wife, mother, sister, daughter, and friend. Many women retire and spend more time with family and friends. One friend of mine spends most of her spare time caring for her grandchildren. She loves it and feels fulfilled. She did like her work, but her identity was built around her connections with others.
Typically, male identity revolves around their work—as do their relationships. Being a breadwinner, a mechanic, a lawyer, or a carpenter defines male identity.
Furthermore, many men (and women) do very well when they have a structure, but may take that structure for granted. Having to be somewhere 9 a.m. on Monday morning provides a shape to the week that might not be present otherwise. Eventually, everyone must stop work. The goal is to prepare effectively for that day, so that when it comes, adults are ready to make a transition into a different lifestyle. Here are some important points to consider:
Plan Ahead. Just as in other big life changes, it is important to think ahead. What will I do with my free time? What hobbies or activities will I pursue? How will I structure my time? What may be some of my problem areas? What are my expectations? Are they realistic?
Talk to your spouse.Negotiating turf issues is very important. All of sudden couples may be spending more time to together than they ever have. Some of that may be positive. But it is possible to get in your partner’s way, without realizing it.
Establish realistic expectations. All life change has its positive and negative aspects. What’s important is to recognize that there will be bumps in the road. Be prepared for them.
Share your retirement stories!
Thinking about retirement? What are you considering?