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Managing Retirement Emotions - Part 1

Managing Retirement Emotions - Part 1

| December 06, 2023

Last month, we discussed preparing for retirement and the steps needed to retire “successfully.” This month, we will talk about handling the wide range of emotions of retirement. Three major emotional states often accompany your final working years and transition into retirement, and those are depression, stress, and anxiety. Today, we will talk about why those emotional states are often present during this time of your life and how to handle them.

When we think about retirement, we often focus on what we will do when we are retired - maybe we will travel the world, spend more time with family or friends, start those hobbies we’ve never had time for, cook more, go fishing, play more golf, or just relax for once!  Let’s be real here: we spend tons of time thinking about what our retirement will look like and planning the financial aspects of it, but we rarely sit down and address the psychological impact retiring from work can have on us.

Here’s what’s likely to happen. You’ll probably spend a few weeks or months just enjoying the escape from the daily grind, work politics, the commute, a boss you didn’t like, and puttering around the house doing the things you never had time to address. But after a bit of time, the novelty of the “endless vacation” wears off, and you can find yourself feeling a bit adrift. Not working can affect your sense of identity because, often, how we see ourselves is tied to the meaning and purpose of our role at work, the structure our jobs gave us, or the social outlet they provided.

With all this weighing on us, that initial feeling of relief and freedom may get replaced by feelings of depression, aimlessness, and isolation. We often grieve the loss of our old working lives, and we may even feel stressed about how we will fill our days. This can have a domino effect that causes a strain on our marriages and other critical relationships as we worry about the effect being home all day has on others in our lives. 

The fact is that no matter how much we’ve been joyfully anticipating retirement, we don’t know what it entails until we are in it. This is a major life change, we hear that phrase all the time, but we dismiss how big a deal it is to retire; after all, we’ve spent over half our lives working! Some studies even link declining health to the act of retirement. However, if you hate your job, I do not doubt that your health will improve.

Now, I don’t want you to fret over this and feel like retirement equals a life of sickliness and depression. In the same way, there are ways to prepare financially for retirement; as we discussed last month, there are ways to prepare emotionally as well. In the remaining blogs for this month, we are going to talk about the steps you can take to cope with stress, depression, anxiety, and other common challenges that often come with retirement. Even if you are already retired and have experienced some of these challenges, planning to transition to retirement in the near future, or are faced with early or forced retirement, there are many ways to enter your new phase of life in top emotional and financial health. The tips I share will help to ensure that your retirement is happy, rewarding, and the first day of the rest of an amazing life.

Until next time…

One last thought: An educated investor is an empowered investor. Please share if you like what you’ve read and think your friends and family can benefit.


1 Adjusting to Retirement: Handling Depression, Stress, and Anxiety 

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All investing involves risk, including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss. There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.

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