5 Steps to Help You Emotionally Prepare for Retirement 

The time has finally come. Whether you’ve been counting down the days- or it all sort of sprung on you- you’re getting closer to retirement. It can feel exciting, scary, and confusing all at the same time.

Before your last day of work, you owe it to yourself to properly prepare for retirement. Being mindful of the good, bad, and everything in between can help you feel empowered as you navigate this new milestone.

Here are some strategies that can help.

Understand the Retirement Transition Phases

Like many changes, you can expect to move through several transition phases as you enter retirement.

Phase One: Pre-Retirement

This is where you start preparing for retirement emotionally, financially, and logistically. At this point, you aren’t focused on grinding or performing- you’re starting to think about downshifting and slowing down in your career.

You’re also thinking about what retirement will feel like. This is an exciting phase, but it can also be overwhelming. Some people spend several years in this phase, and that’s okay!

Phase Two: Honeymoon Phase

Retirement can feel a bit like falling in love. You may be extremely relieved, euphoric, and motivated when you finally leave your job. You might throw yourself into relationships and new activities.

Keep in mind that not everyone experiences this phase. For some people, the opposite may occur (where you feel more depressed or anxious than usual).

Phase Three: Disenchantment

Once the initial high dissipates, retirement may start feeling lackluster. You might find yourself feeling bored or restless. If you struggle with mental health issues, you may notice they’re more exacerbated.

Phase Four: Reorientation

Reorientation entails reconciling those feelings of disenchantment and harnessing yourself into your new identity. This phase can take time, but it’s imperative if you want to avoid falling into a severe rut.

At this point, it’s often helpful to start pursuing meaningful activities and establishing a solid routine. This will keep you refreshed and grounded each day.

Phase Five: Stability

This last phrase means you’ve largely accepted your retirement for what it is. You have settled into your new routine and have adapted to any appropriate changes.

This doesn’t mean everything is sunshine and rainbows (retirement often comes with numerous life transitions), but you are at a point where you’ve embraced that you no longer work for a living.

Gain a Solid Grip on Your Finances

Financial anxiety is a real threat, and about half of Americans report that running out of money is their top retirement concern.

So, before you jump into quitting your job, it’s imperative that you feel knowledgeable about your financial situation. For many potential retirees, this knowledge includes:

  • understanding how your pension or retirement plans work
  • agreeing on a specific monthly or annual budget
  • having an emergency plan in case money becomes tight
  • predicting which expenses you may incur

Start Building Your Sense of Structure

Even if you aren’t retired yet, you can start planning ahead by envisioning how your life might look when you stop working. Some people find it easier to transition after they have already implemented some new changes.

For example, you might start taking a walk around your neighborhood before work. In retirement, you can double the length of that walk. But by putting forth the effort now, you start making it a normal part of your day.

Consider Your Relationships

Research shows that more than one-third of adults over age 45 feel lonely. But thinking about your relationships now can be a virtuous goal before retirement.

If work provides most of your socialization, you will need to think about how you will replace that. For example, you might start volunteering regularly. You may consider babysitting the grandchildren once a week. Or, you might even consider downsizing to a part-time job just to keep busy and social.

It may also be helpful to evaluate if you want to rekindle old relationships. Many friends reconnect after they stop working- both parties now have much more time to spend together!

Set Realistic Goals

Ideally, your retirement should resemble a slow marathon and not a fast sprint. You don’t need to cram everything into the first year (even if you feel tempted).

Instead, try to focus on maintaining realistic goals for yourself. For most people, these goals will focus on keeping a sense of structure and looking after their physical and emotional health.

Remember that the phases of retirement take time- try to stay present with your journey and avoid rushing into things.

How Therapy Can Help You Prepare for Retirement

If you feel overwhelmed as you prepare for retirement, therapy can help. Together, we can explore your fears, concerns, and other related stress. Then, we can come up with a realistic plan to manage these feelings as you embark on your new journey.

No matter how close you are to retirement, remember that you deserve support during this emotional time! Contact me today to get started.

4601 Spicewood Springs Road Building 3, Suite 200
Austin, TX 78759

(512) 988-3363

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