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How to Successfully adapt to Retirement

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How to Successfully adapt to Retirement

What you have to do to prepare yourself for retirement, The most important things in a happy retirement, Being master of your own destiny, Finding a new center for your life, the changes in attitude you need for retirement, How to "grow" into retirement

Retirement is a New Phase in Your Life

Remember that, it is vitally important!

It is most important. You have not been thrown away like an old Iron, on the scrap heap of lost jobs and closing factories! The adjustment may be a difficult process, but it is one, that you will have to master, if you want to live a happy and content life!

If you still work, you should make a special effort and devote some time thinking about retirement if you

think about retiring during the next five years
want to retire early (say either through a job buy-out scheme) or retire at a young age

Your retirement could be a long phase of your life. It could last anywhere from 25 to 40 years or more. Therefore spending a little time on what you want to do and how you want to live during this period is not a luxury.

Even if you have started your retirement, you should sit back and assess where you want to go mentally, or even physically. Sit down and define what you want to do with the free time you have suddenly at your disposal. Some of the things you might think about, could be to

Start what you have always wanted to do in life before work and responsibility for all sorts of things took hold over you. If you are financially able to do it, plan the life you want! With financial limits, do what you can within your means. The key is to enjoy what you want to do!
Make the same effort about planning your future physical, emotional, and spiritual needs as you did when you planned your financial needs.
Define what you think would be a successful life: Your own version of success! Find a way to live that. The limitations which you inevitably face, will be a new mental challenge!
Enjoy Life without pain! When you do something, look at how it enhances your life. Don't do things at the expense of someone else, but rather in a generally harmonic environment.

Retirement should be a time of true joy and happiness. But even for happiness you have to work! Maybe not physically, but mentally. You have to discover your own special purpose in life and try to live out your passions. Work is no longer giving you a purpose in life, you have to find that new purpose!


That is the work you have to put into living to create happiness for yourself!

The Factors that will make for a successful Retirement

These factors have been proven to reveal, how likely it is that someone can build a happy and personally successful lifestyle in their later years. The more directly a person addresses these factors the better his/her chances of having a successful retirement. These 15 retirement success factors are:

Until the beginning of your retirement, your life has centered around work. Now you have left that part of your life and you have to re-direct yourself. Your personal identity is no longer linked to your working life or the position you held or what you did. It now stands on its own, totally unsupported! You have entered a new phase of your life, that requires new directions and new points of identification with yourself and with society at large.
Retirement requires a change in attitude. Your style of life and your routines will be almost completely determined by yourself and your immediate family surrounding. There is no longer the "straight-jacket" of work and of a job that you can use to justify actions or inaction! Retirement means, you are on your own!
The directness of being Master of your own Destiny requires an ability to make decisions for yourself.You have to rely on your own sense of values and of personal guidance for making decisions for your life. Obviously, you still have to co-ordinate your actions with those close to you. This ability to make independent decisions, has far reaching consequences.
One of the most important aspect of being master of your own destiny is a Self Assessment of your Situation. Write down your Strengths and Concerns about your own retirement situation. These should include at the very least:
A subjective assessment and appraisal of your health and the current condition of your overall wellness. This should be your own feeling. See a doctor and have a thorough check up, if you think you need it. But most important is how you feel about yourself
A subjective assessment of your financial position and your financial security. This is key to your long term survival and to your peace of mind. You cannot plan your retirement life style, if you are financially "in the dark". So, get your "spreadsheet" out, add all your monthly income streams and add all your monthly expenditure, then deduct one from the other and see what you have left over every month! Do that on a regular basis. Good order and discipline makes for happiness.
Ask yourself about how old you feel you are. Your own perception of age is an important factor. This should include some thoughts about your emotional and physical maturity. Write it down, you will remember things that are important in determining your vitality and the satisfaction you want to gain from your retired life. also look at your personal growth. This should not stop when you retire, maybe it is the first time in your life that you have time for yourself!
We do not want to denigrate the spiritual side of life. The meaning of life is not in this position, because we thought, it was of lesser importance. Whether you are religious or not, an assessment of your own personal meaning of life is a key element in your search for a life direction in retirement. You should look for things that offer you a driving purpose and provide you with a deep sense of fulfillment.
You might make a summary of your self assessment that one could describe as your own current satisfaction with Life. It should indicate the degree to which you believe you have achieved contentment and peace at this stage in your life
Once you have completed your Self Assessment and reflected on it, you can proceed to determine what your future should look like! You might think that all these steps are tedious, since you "already know what you want: To play golf or dance away the night, every day.........for the next 50 years obviously........."

What after you get tired with golf and arthritis prevents you from dancing away the night? So follow through, and you will feel better about yourself.

Start with some thoughts about your future satisfaction of life. Write down what you expect in terms of future personal success, achievement, contentment, and peace. Your goals in life may be small achievements, but they are important to you. Don't try to run after goals that are from the past. You live in the "here and now" and what satisfies your life now is important.
There may be some aspects that you inevitably have to consider in your quest for happiness. You have and had relationships and probably a family in your life. Thus the degree to which you might still have dependents (even grown sons and daughters may become dependent in our pretty insecure world!) is a key issue. You might have escaped the sense of burden that aging parents can bring. Whatever your situation, think about it.
Your family can be a great source of strength. You can get great satisfaction from feeling connected and wanted, from the sense of love and togetherness and from a close family life in general. You will be one lucky person, if that is the case. On the other hand, family members can also be a source of continuos stress and unhappiness. Learn to arrange yourself in a way that you will get satisfaction and contentment from life within your family. This sometimes takes a considerable effort, but learn it. To achieve a good relationship, if you do not have one already, is true personal growth!
The relationship you will have in your retirement with your partner in life, your wife, husband or life partner, is a key element in your happiness. Strangely enough, even if you are not married any longer, or have never been married, the aspect of a close relationship to another person is important. Few human beings are solitary animals and most yearn for the closeness to another human being. Some find solace in caring for a dog or a cat. It is the element of caring that is the important issue here. Whatever you will be doing, include the demands of such a relationship and nurture it carefully. Build on the foundations you have!
Once you have appraised your position, you can then look at issues like your leisure interests. These may include activities that you could never pursue during your working life or they are activities which you keenly followed and became expert in. Keep the activities you enjoy and those that maintain your body and spirit healthy.
Many of the aspects that make for a healthy and enjoyable retired life require a great deal of personal flexibility and adaptability from you. You might have to consciously learn that. Again, this is real personal growth
A smart and attractive Personal Appearance is important. Many retired people appear to have a problem with that. Once they stop working, personal attire starts to suffer. But clothes and general appearance are an expression of your inner self. Keep your weight within reasonable limits. If you gain weight, see that you lose it again. Without pills and other "gobbledygook". A fitness club might help, but even more help is "portion control and organized meals" at fixed times. As a retiree, you should gain respect. Yet, you do not have a right for respect because of your age. You will gain respect, if you are nice and courteous, well dressed and clever.
The successful replacement and transformation of functions associated with your working life, such as ordered time management, the socialization aspect, having a purpose in life. following a set of predetermined activities by a net set of goals, behavior and activities is the key of a successful transformation into retirement.

Some people might think that we created a self centered retirement monster with our suggestions. Similarly, some people might imply that we are addressing the affluent retiree, with a large pension and significant wealth. Nothing could be further from the truth. The problems are the same, whether you are affluent or a poor retiree, making do with a minimal social security pension. If you are the latter, you might not have some of the choices. Whether poor or affluent, in order for a successful transition from a working life to retirement, the person has primarily to concentrate on his/her own capabilities. The surrounding environment may help, and close personal and understanding relationships will make any transition easier. In the end, it is the retiree, who has to initiate and maintain the changes to create a happy and content life for himself and his surrounding.

If this page helps a person to pinpoint the areas where he/she has to focus their attention when planning for retirement, then it has fulfilled its purpose.

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How much do you know about Retirement?

While we were working on this page, one of our "retired employees" (i.e. a retiree who enjoys working with us) found the questionnaire below and gave it to us. We do not know who generated it and have no other data except the copyright notice on the bottom. Naturally, we acknowledge the copyright. We thought, it is a useful contribution towards improving knowledge about retirement.

To complete the survey (it is just for your own enjoyment!), you have to answer the questions with True or False. Just to make you feel better, most of the people in our office got most of the answers wrong!

True/False The Questions
  1. Most workers slow down and become less productive the closer they get to retirement.
  2. Generally the closer people get to their retirement the more apt they are to resist it.
  3. People who direct their lives themselves do better in retirement than those who let others make their decisions for them.
  4. People who are healthy when they retire generally continue in good health well into their retirement years.
  5. The average income of retirees has declined in the last decade due to high rates of inflation.
  6. If you're happy now before you retire, chances are you'll be happy when you do retire.
  7. About half the people in retirement report being chronically depressed, lonely, and/or sad.
  8. Men find a more difficult emotional adjustment into retirement than do women.
  9. The most personally satisfied retirees are those who have hobbies, activities, "causes", or active leisure pursuits.
  10. People who are opinionated and somewhat rigid in their thinking do better in retirement because they know what they want.
  11. People who reminisce a lot tend not to do well in retirement.
  12. When a person has others who are dependent upon him/her either financially or emotionally, they tend to retire earlier rather than later.
  13. A happy marriage/special relationship equals a successful retirement.
  14. Most people retire because they feel themselves getting old.
  15. One of the best ways to genuinely enjoy your retirement is to find suitable replacements for what your job formerly gave you in the way of satisfactions.

1) F 2) F 3) T 4) T 5) F 6) T 7) F 8) F
9) T 10) F 11) F 12) F 13) T 14) F 15) T

© 2001 Richard P. Johnson, Ph.D.

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