How to Transition Into Retirement
The transition into retirement from the workplace is one of life's biggest changes. No more getting up for work, no more interaction with your co-workers, no more deadlines or work-related responsibilities. While the financial transition is often discussed and written about, the emotional side of retirement deserves its own conversation as well. How will you keep busy mentally and otherwise?
Decide How You Want to Spend Retirement
Retirement can be a great time to do the things you've always wanted to do or at least focus on what you like doing. This can include spending time with family and friends, traveling, playing golf or other favorite hobbies or pursuits. This is all fantastic, but at some point those hobbies may get old.
Others may expect you to tend to their needs since you have so much time on your hands. Perhaps your adult children expect you to watch your grandchildren while they're working to help them save on day care costs. This is great if that's what you want to do. Otherwise, be sure to set boundaries – which could be only babysitting a couple of days per week, excluding time when you're traveling or busy doing something else.
The key here is to decide how you want to spend your retirement years. Ideally, you'll take time before retiring deciding how you want to spend your time and where you want to live. Certainly, this can change, but it's good to have a lifestyle plan as you prepare for retirement.
Define What Retirement Means to You
The traditional notion of ceasing work completely and "going fishing" is changing. Encore retirements – defined as working at something you love – are becoming more common. Perhaps you've always wanted to start a business or work with children. Maybe you've dreamed of writing a book or going back to school to get training to follow a passion or start a second career. Now is the time!
Many employers offer phased retirements where you might take a lessor role or simply work a shorter week for several years prior to retiring full time. This type of transition into retirement can benefit you and your employer. You can "test drive" before making a full commitment. Your employer can use these years to retain your experience and expertise to groom your ultimate replacement. Some people may simply want to continue to work into retirement for the mental stimulation and even the money.
Prepare for a Lifestyle Change
If you and your spouse are used to having your own workday routines, the thought of being together full time can be a big change. For some, retirement provides the exciting opportunity to do things together you haven't had time for in the past.
Discuss how you will transition from being at work each day to being with each other all day, every day. Consider how you will spend plenty of time together while also pursuing other interests. Maybe one of you enjoys tennis while the other likes golf. Volunteering or a part-time job can provide a needed break from constant togetherness. Staggering your retirement dates by a year or two can also help ease the transition into retirement.
Maintain Your Emotional Health
Retirement can mean a loss of the social interactions with co-workers, vendors and clients. Life can become lonely without this. Even if you have a large family or many friends, you will likely not see these people on a daily basis. Think through how you'll replace these social interactions. Again, maybe volunteering or a part-time job is the answer. This could include helping those who are less fortunate, being a tour guide in your city or becoming a greeter at Walmart.
There has been a lot written about the financial aspects of saving for retirement and making your money last for your lifetime. But much less is written about the social and emotional aspects of the transition into retirement. Be sure not to ignore this aspect of retirement and do your best to plan for it. It's going to be great.