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8 Tips for Adjusting to the Retirement Lifestyle

Picture of Randall E. White

Randall E. White

Happy elderly couple having coffee by the tent in the forest

Most people spend decades of their working lives planning for and dreaming about how they want life to look in retirement. They plan where their income will come from, where they’re going to live, what trips they may be going on, who they’re going to spend their time with, and many more exciting details. Yet, despite all the diligent planning, many retirees find themselves shocked when they realize that adjusting to retirement is more difficult than they anticipated.

Why Retirees Experience Growing Pains When Adjusting to Retirement

The truth is that many retirees find themselves struggling to adjust to this new phase in their life. A big reason for this is that retirement can often mean a loss of identity, and we’re not really taught how to prepare for that psychological aspect of retirement. After working for so long, your career becomes a significant part of who you are – whether that’s a teacher, a pilot, a coach, or a CEO. Once you retire, though, the loss of your work identity can leave you feeling adrift or anxious. Coupled with that sense of loss, retirees may also find themselves struggling with depression and anxiety if they are finding that they have less money or don’t understand their purpose any longer.

Rather than enter retirement ill-prepared, here are eight tips that can help you navigate the challenges of adjusting to life in retirement.

Tip #1: Maintain Structure

For most, life as an employee requires one to follow a specific type of schedule – the alarm goes off, you get ready, go to work, go to lunch, go back to work, and come home. If that’s you and you’ve been following a set schedule for most of your life, then it’s understandable that it might take some time for you to get used to having so much free time. It can be incredibly overwhelming to go from having your days planned out to having to create a new normal for yourself.

One way to work through this change is to create a new schedule for yourself. Try out different experiences and hobbies and see which ones speak to you in this new phase of your life. Your schedule doesn’t have to be fancy or set in stone – and you don’t have to schedule out every hour of every day – but sitting down and giving your days a bit more structure can help you create that new sense of normalcy and routine.

Tip #2: Set Goals

So much of our lives are measured in milestones – graduating college, landing a good career, getting that promotion, and finally, retiring. But what about after you retire? Setting some goals for yourself can help invigorate your spirit and give you a renewed sense of purpose. Think about milestones you want to meet in the first month of retirement, in six months, in a year, and so on, and write them down. They don’t have to be big goals either. It could be as simple as learning to garden or joining a local organization that interests you.

Whatever your goals are, having them written down and being able to cross them off gives you a sense of achievement that can do wonders for your mental health.

SEE ALSO: Four Tips for Transitioning into Retirement Successfully

Tip #3: Confront Your Emotions – All of Them

Retirement is a transition that impacts all facets of your life. As with any big life change, it’s normal for there to be a lot of complex and often competing feelings that come along with it. You may start out your retirement feeling free and relieved, only to settle into a slower lifestyle and begin to feel bored or anxious. This is stressful, but also completely normal.

If you find yourself battling with emotions all over the spectrum, it’s important not to suppress or deny your feelings. Doing so can lead to unhealthy coping strategies as well as poor mental health. Instead, give yourself space to experience what you’re feeling and look for healthy ways to work through those feelings. It could be keeping your hands busy with a project at home or taking a yoga class with some friends.

Tip #4: Invest in People

Leaving the working world can drastically upend your social life. After decades of meeting friends through work and seeing them every day, retirement can feel a bit like isolation after a while. Instead of letting those relationships fall to the wayside, make a commitment to actively pursue and cultivate those friendships that you hold dear. You could even use this as an opportunity to structure your weekly routine – meet one friend for coffee every Monday afternoon, another friend to go walking with you in the park each Thursday morning, and another to do a weekly dinner on Friday nights. You can even take this time to start some traditions among you and your friends, like a monthly board game night where everyone comes over for some friendly competition.

If you find that you’re struggling to keep yourself socially active, consider joining a local gym or organization to help you get out there and meet new people.

Tip #5: Consider an ‘Encore’

For some retirees, life without a job is less than ideal. But, who says that you must leave the workforce simply because you retired? If you find that you have too much free time on your hands, consider getting a less-stressful secondary career that is in line with things you’re passionate about. Not only does this help give your days a bit more structure, but it also provides you with another stream of income to help support you through retirement.

What’s more, research shows that retirees who work in some capacity throughout retirement are often in better mental and physical health and report higher levels of life satisfaction. So, look around your community and see if you can find an encore career you’ll enjoy.

SEE ALSO: Six Ways to Use ‘Self-Continuity’ to Strengthen Your Retirement Plan

Tip #6: Reassess Your Budget

Even those who are most prepared may have to make some adjustments to their finances after retirement. For many retirees, the fear of running out of money is a huge stressor that comes along with retiring. Having a budget that accurately reflects your new financial situation can help ensure that you’re not spending money you shouldn’t be or losing money somewhere you didn’t realize.

Take some time to track how your expenses change now that you’re no longer working. You may not have to pay for that commute to work anymore, but perhaps you’re eating out more now that you have free time. Once you have a better idea of where your money is going, establish a budget that will help you see how much you can spend. You might find that you need a part-time gig if you’re going to go on that annual girls’ trip with your friends. Or perhaps you have extra money and can treat yourself to that watch you’ve been eyeing.

Tip #7: Get Involved in Your Community

If you’re finding it difficult to adjust to life outside of work but aren’t interested in getting back to work, you might want to consider volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about. Not only does this give back to your community, but it can provide you with a sense of purpose, structure, and goodwill. Not only that but volunteering your time or talents gives you the opportunity to meet new people and potentially make new friends in the process.

Tip #8: Show Yourself Compassion

Retirement is one of the more impactful life changes that we’ll experience in our lives, so allow yourself the grace to adjust to it in your own time. It’s okay if you don’t fall into a routine right away or if you feel a bit lost as you get used to no longer working. Try out new interests, pick up a hobby that interests you, get creative about how you fill your time and discover what truly speaks to you and brings you fulfillment. Above all, be patient with yourself as you work to find the right balance for yourself.

At TriCapital Wealth Management, we are committed to providing unique and dynamic financial planning that meets each of our clients where they are. If you’d like to speak with one of our professionals about your spending strategy or other retirement topics, please contact us today.  

Securities offered through Triad Advisors, LLC, member FINRA/SPIC. Advisory services offered through TriCapital Wealth Management, Inc. TriCapital Wealth Management, Inc. is not affiliated with Triad Advisors, LLC.

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