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Managing Retirement Emotions - Part 2

Managing Retirement Emotions - Part 2

| December 13, 2023

Last week, we discussed the emotional states that often accompany preparing for and entering retirement and why they occur. This week, we will start talking about the actions you can take to counteract those negative emotional states. We all know change is never easy, and it often comes with conflicting emotions - think about sending your kids off to college - you are both proud and sad.  So today, we will talk about actively embracing change to ease the transition, reduce stress and anxiety, and find new meaning and purpose in this next phase of your life.

Adjust your attitude. Retirement isn’t a destination where you are just plopped after you hit 65 like an old horse sent out to pasture; retirement is a journey. Not only that, but you have the freedom on this journey to change course any time you want! On top of that, you can also choose to change your perspective on retiring. Instead of sitting in your recliner, passing the time by watching reruns, think about what you are gaining, NOT what you are losing.

Build resilience. It is never too late to build resilience to cope with life’s challenges, and having resilience will get you past those tough emotional bumps that come with retirement and other major life changes. Resilience also helps you keep a healthy perspective when the going gets tough. As we discussed, retirement isn’t just a one-way ticket to freedom and happiness. It should be, but it isn’t. Having resilience can make that one-way ticket to a workless paradise attainable from an emotional standpoint.

Acknowledge your emotions. And speaking of emotions - let’s start our new journey by removing the pressure always to be happy now that we are retired. You can’t always bully yourself into feeling positive and attempting to will guarantee more negative emotions. So let’s name those emotions and accept their existence and that they will pass because they will. Acknowledging them can help to guarantee that they won’t last forever. Talking about your acknowledged feelings is also a sure way to help those negative rain clouds move on quickly. 

Accept the things that you can’t change. Along with acknowledging emotions comes accepting thighs you can’t change because fighting them is exhausting. We cannot change our age or the circumstances of our retirement if they aren’t ideal. We can change how we deal with them by refocusing energy off the negative and onto taking control of the situation and handling obstacles that come our way.

Redefine your identity. Almost everyone’s identity has much to do with what they did for a living; in fact, “what do you do,” is often one of the first questions we ask when meeting someone new. When you retire, part of your identity is that you are retired from what you did, but the rest of your identity is now totally up to you to choose. In large part, this new identity comes from what we do with our newfound freedom, so you may start answering these questions with statements like, “I am an avid golfer,” “I am a traveler, painter, memoirist, and jewelry designer.” The choice is up to you for once! Embrace that!

Set new goals. It’s no secret that humans are happier with goals; we love having something to work towards. Retirement is no different; we need goals to energize and give us a sense of purpose. Goals can also help us create that all-important new identity. In fact, you now have the freedom and all the time in the world to focus on your own hopes and dreams! Winner winner chicken dinner!

Seek social support. We discussed how isolating retirement can be after the structured social environment worklife provides. In retirement, you have to get out there and provide your own social environment, and many folks are not up for doing that. Reaching out to existing friends more often, staying in touch with work friends, and finding retirement support groups or groups associated with your interest are all good ways to ensure you don’t become isolated in retirement, which can lead to a longer-term state of depression.

My point here is that we cannot ignore the importance of maintaining a healthy emotional state in life, and that becomes even more critical in retirement. 

Until next time…

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


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

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested in directly. 

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.

Dollar-cost averaging involves continuous investment in securities regardless of fluctuation in the price levels of such securities. An investor should consider their ability to continue purchasing through fluctuating price levels. Such a plan does not assure a profit and does not protect against loss in declining markets.