We read about how wonderful being over 60 is and that retirement is almost regarded as Nirvana. Social media is splashed with photographs of retirees enjoying themselves and looking happy.
However, to some, including myself, Retirement is definitely not what we have expected and we struggle to find our place in this new world.
At 57, I retired early to spend more time with my husband who is nine years older than me. It was going to be wonderful – having endless time to do whatever we wanted; travelling and enjoying life.
As soon as I finished work, we took a fabulous cruise around Asia and spent some time in China. We returned home happy and relaxed and ready to face the rest of our lives.
Six months later, I realised I wasn’t suited to retirement, and I knew I couldn’t continue in our current lifestyle. My work had defined me and now I felt lost. Working full time didn’t leave much time to pursue other interests apart from spending time with family and friends.
No, I didn’t have hobbies such as art or craft. It was like starting a new life again. Love my husband as I did, it wasn’t enough to just fill each day with mindless tasks – I needed more – I needed a purpose.
Had I made a huge mistake?
I asked several women who have retired for one positive and one negative about being retired and their answers were surprisingly similar.
With my experience and their thoughts, I have come up with the top 6 ways to make The Lifestyle Change – we don’t use the word ‘Retirement’ – more positive and rewarding.
The Lifestyle Change has nothing to do with ‘The change of life’ as our mothers used to refer to menopause. I’m talking about retirement and why this word can have a negative connotation.
It can give the impression that life is almost over, when statistics show we are living longer and more active lives than any generation before us.
By using the term ‘The Lifestyle Change,’ we can view the next phase of life holistically. What changes will we make to our lifestyle? What challenges or dreams do we want to achieve?
Many of us concentrate so much on preparing our finances for retirement that we forget we need to have a lifestyle and health plan as well. Sure, we want to be certain that our finances will enable us to live a comfortable life. However there is much more to consider.
One negative about leaving work and making The Lifestyle Change is losing touch with work colleagues and daily connection. We sometimes take for granted the connections we have with those we work with, and it is a shock when you leave to realise you miss those relationships.
It is important to maintain daily connections with friends, join a group or even volunteer. Isolation and loneliness can become a huge problem and affect our mental health and well-being.
Even connecting with others through social media can be a positive experience. There are many groups and forums you can join to keep connected.
I’ve written before about having a purpose in life and that is so vital when we make The Lifestyle Change. It can be difficult to adjust to mornings without having to rush to work, Monday to Friday.
Having structure in your day and finding purpose will help overcome the lack of direction that can come when we retire.
If you are working in a career that you enjoy, is there a need to fully retire? Consider cutting back your working hours to part-time and ‘test the water’ of retirement. Many of us are still vital, have much to offer in the corporate world and actually thrive because we love our work.
The Lifestyle Change that retirement brings is vital. You are now totally in control of how you spend your time. I’ve spoken with many women, and like me, they found it difficult to just let go of the feeling of ‘having to do something.’
They feel guilty if they take time during the day to read a book or just have a lie down and relax. Don’t! You have earned the right to enjoy this new and wonderful phase of life.
Are you about to retire? Will you consider it ‘The Lifestyle Change’? Are you retired? How did you cope with this new phase of life? I would love you to join the conversation and share your thoughts with the community.