Joe couldn’t wait to retire. He planned to volunteer, garden, play tennis and was looking forward to travelling. He teased his colleagues who were still “chained to a desk” as he flaunted his coming freedom.
Yet two months after retirement, Joe found it hard to get out of bed or generate energy. He missed the excitement and purpose of his job. He felt disconnected from his friends. He dreaded questions like “So what do you do?” that caused him to mutter “Well, I’m retired now, but I used to …”
Our society has long touted retirement as a measure of success. Other people assume our happiness for reaching that long-awaited goal. They speak of envy, telling us how wonderful we should feel. Not so fast.
Happy Retirement Myth
You leave a lot behind when you retire—your reason for getting out of bed in the morning, your title and status, the accolades of the job, and the assurance of your productive value. You miss colleagues with whom you associated on a daily basis, familiar surroundings, and more. For many retirees, these losses are complicated if you have to leave the workforce sooner than intended.
Even if you retire according to plan, you can be caught off-guard by the intensity of the experience, which may trigger profound grief as you realize life will never be the same again. In other words, as with so many life transitions, there are many things for which retirees are grateful, but there are many other things about which they are sad.
It helps to remember that retirement is a process, not an event. Also, it is easier to retire “to” something instead of just “from”. You can ease the transition by following a few brief tips:
Retirement is a major life transitions with profound impact. Give yourself permission to grieve your losses even as you celebrate your gains. Increase your awareness and work to adjust. Over time, you will settle in and enjoy this adventurous new chapter.
Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com