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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Retirement Is Just Like Real Life: We Interrupt This Fantasy To Introduce Reality.

Retirement: A Full-Time Job

A retiree Syd

Retirement Is Just Like Real Life

Aaah, retirement. No more alarm clocks, deadlines, or responsibilities. No more difficult bosses. No more performance evaluations.

Endless time to travel, to catch up on reading, to enjoy afternoon cocktails on the verandah.

If you could just get yourself to retirement, you would be free: stress-free, worry-free, and carefree.

We interrupt this fantasy to introduce reality.

Retirement is just another stage of life. Remember life? It’s that thing that has happened to you for all those years leading up to today. And here’s the thing about life—it keeps happening even in retirement.

Retirement won’t magically deliver you to a life with no problems. Retirement simply replaces one set of challenges with another set. A set that I would argue is much easier to live with, but as challenges tend to be, still challenging. Retirement is just like real life that way.

But just like real life, you can still love retirement despite its challenges. Not everyone experiences the exact same challenges, or to the same degree. For example, boredom was never really an issue for me, but I do know that it can be a big deal for some retirees. Frankly I was more bored when I was working.
(Ditto) Story Reports

But I did struggle with guilt when I first retired. Guilt for not accomplishing enough each day, guilt for not volunteering some of my newfound time, heck, guilt just for the fact that I was retired while others are off at work.

(Yah I felt some "guilt" also. Guilt for not accomplishing enough each day to take up the slack that "management" manufacutred by allowing certain employees to do little or next to nothing.) Story Reports

I also had trouble telling new acquaintances that I was retired, trouble explaining what it was I did all day; I even had trouble spending time on the things I actually wanted to spend my time on the most.

There are plenty of issues you may have to work out in retirement, guilt, boredom, laziness, and money worries, to name a few.

If you think you are only going to get the good with no bad in retirement, you are not being realistic. Yes, you’re trading in the problems of the work world: stressful days, sleepless nights, long commutes, mind-numbing meetings, limited vacation time, and a general need to hurry from here to there.

But it’s a trade-off. In retirement, you’ll have to figure out your new identity, find meaningful activities to fill your time, and work to develop some new relationships. And when you give up work, you are giving up some financial security and a built-in social life as well.

I’m not trying to be discouraging. I think the benefits of retirement far outweigh the drawbacks. But if you find yourself struggling for your footing in retirement, that just means you’re normal. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you made a huge mistake giving up that nine to five.


After reading your article it 'clicked', I was looking for things that society might define as meaningful rather then what I defined as meaningful to me. I love being outside in my gardens working alone but felt guilty that I wasn't doing something more meaningful for social good, not anymore. Thank you. The social good may come later, for now I am going to ENJOY working in my gardens and contemplating life.

(I agree. Define meaningful things to do for YOUSELF, not what "society" thinks is meaningful!) Story Reports

After about two years of searching and building my post-employment life (i.e., retirement!), I finally understand that life is about following one's passions, whatever they might be, not about living up to vague societal expectations. I used to feel the need to apologize for my 'good luck' and to justify what I did with my time. Not any more! I love my life, and as long as I follow the rules with regard to what works for me, it's all good.


Retirement for the individual is much like it is for the couple. You can run, but you can't hide. While working, it can be much easier to ignore 'issues' and pretend they don't exist. The busier the schedule, the easier it is to just buckle down and do what needs to get done. Along comes retirement and you're faced with the person in the mirror. Some people fill their retirement time with a whirlwind of activity, but in the end, you still have to come to terms with who you are and make peace with that person. To me, that's the ultimate opportunity and challenge of retirement.


I think just as some people struggle with boredom during retirement while others do not, some people struggle with the word 'passion.' How do people find their passion when they just feel... Well, content? Contentment is undervalued and misunderstood in my opinion. Nothing wrong with it. But as humans there is an allure to living with the struggle. If we can get passed that, we can sink in and learn to appreciate our circumstances even more. Starts with feeling worthy as individuals, I beleieve. If we feel our life has value, regardless of whether we are saving the planet or changing the world, then we can learn to 'just be.' At least, this is the topic I've been exploring since I retired a year and a half ago. Thanks for being a beacon in the distance for those of us who are finding our way.


I retired in December. Some days, I get absolutely nothing done. I don't even try! I have been feeling terrible about this, but maybe it is just part of the adjustment process. I mean, how slothful can I really be if I retired early w/o a pension?

I do notice that when I have something I Must Do, the energy is there. Last week, I worked four 18+ hour days completing my MIL's Estate Sale. Then I came home and slept the better part of two days. Thanks for holding a light up and showing me there is hope.


I'm two weeks into my early retirement/sabbatical/new career, and I'm struggling with feelings of guilt at being so unproductive! And yet a friend reminded me that I'm genetically incapable of being truly unproductive. Not that productivity should even matter, but old habits die hard.

Thank you for reminding me that every life stage contains challenges to handle. Luckily, my challenges now are so much more pleasant than the ones I dealt with when I had a day job!

(Ditto) Story Reports


I guess when we're working, we're so used to performing to our employer's expectations that it's hard to shift to stop living to others' expectations even in retirement.

No matter where you go you're always there or no matter where you go you're there.

Don't suffer from that ailment of making life harder than it needs to be.

Getting nothing done some days is part of life, feeling terrible about it is just part of the adjustment process, like you said. There will come a time when you learn to stop feeling terrible about it and just realize you're doing what you need to do right now. You've earned it!


We have to carve out a new identity in retirement. I am 10 months in now and still working on that. That vague feeling of anxiety that came from not having to get up early and rush into work is less frequent now so I know I am settling in.

And being retired is busy and amazing and getting more so as I settle in.

Advice to new retirees to “Go with the flow but make sure that flow isn't down the drain of self esteem. Don’t think that you can, or have to figure it all out ahead of time. You will become a different person in retirement more than you ever imagined, but the amazing thing is that the person you become will be pretty much up to you.”

Tt almost unanimous that people do not miss working, it is almost as unanimous that folks missed some of the day-to-day "relationships" of the workplace as well as “the camaraderie,” or just interaction with familiar people.


(Yah I did earn it. Some people think they deserve retirement. You don't deserve it if you didn't earn it. I know of people who scam the system and don't deserve retirement. This is the norm for many people. Scam the system. I worked and earned my retirement. Those who didn't earn their retirement are the ones that should feel guilty but I know they don't. They were just "working bums" who scammed the system.) Story Reports

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