4 Fears About Retirement

From my US News & World Blog

Retirement scares me. Part of it is the financial side of things and the nagging question of will I have enough to last throughout my entire retirement. None of us is immune to this fear unless we have been fortunate enough somewhere along the way to hit it big and money is no object.

What scares me just as much is what will I do when I retire? How will I fill the days with exciting and worthwhile activities? Can I avoid boredom at a time when I finally have the ability to do whatever I want to do?

[See How to Save for Retirement on a Low Income.]

Some emphatically state they don’t have time to think about what to do as they are busy each day just getting through their day. Hobbies, travels, and activities keep them running at full speed all of the time. They cannot imagine a retirement life that is anything but action packed and fears of boredom or empty hours to fill does not cross their mind.

But I am not sure. Having taken an 18 month trial-retirement journey, I was more than ready to get back to work. And 18 months is a fraction of the time we can expect to be retired. Can I really keep busy enough in retired life?

Legitimate retirement fears? Not yet retired, I am obviously not the best judge of exactly how retirement will play out. But as I plan for that day, here are some concerns:

1. Travel. Wonderful, exciting, so much to see, I look forward to lots of travel in retirement. But how much travel is realistic? If we travel once each quarter to a new destination, will that be too much? In 10 years that would be 40 different places. I love researching new destinations and planning out trips but that’s quite a lot. And what about the expense of travel? Yes we can travel on a budget but air fares and hotels quickly add up. Travel will be a big part of retirement but just how much of my retired life will it occupy?

[See Places to Live the American Dream Abroad.]

2. Physical capabilities. Today I ride the bike three times a week, lift weights twice a week, do a combination of yoga and pilates twice a week, and on the weekends, my wife and I go for extended walks and hikes. But I noticed on our last hike that it was more of a struggle to get up the hill at the end, and I am years from retirement age. Physical activity is a big part of my life but the likelihood is that years from now I will be more limited. I will never surrender but need to consider that less time will be occupied with this. What will take its place?

3. Enough hobbies. My parents are active in tennis, bridge, golf, theater, travel, dining out, and various other events. Their calendar looks like that of a busy CEO. But I do not have quite so many varied interests. By starting my planning now I hope to discover things to do that I am passionate about to fill my retirement hours. But what if I do not?

4. To-do lists. When we first retire, attacking that ever-growing list of things to do is exciting. Projects long in need of completion get done and a genuine feeling of accomplishment is experienced. But how long will it take to finish off the list? During my brief time off, I quickly finished my list including new additions along the way. I do not believe a to-do list will keep retirees busy for any extended period of time.

Don’t get me wrong–I am definitely looking forward to retiring. I hope that by planning for retirement ahead of time I will identify retirement challenges today and have time to make adjustments to better prepare to keep busy as a senior citizen.

Maybe I will be a busy bee during retirement with little time to fret over what to do next, but maybe not. And that is why retirement scares me.

Dave Bernard is the author of Are You Just Existing and Calling it a Life?, which offers guidelines to discover your personal passion and live a life of purpose. Not yet retired, Dave has begun his due diligence to plan for a fulfilling retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement–Only the Beginning.

5 thoughts on “4 Fears About Retirement

  1. Great ideas to think about, Dave. My husband is retiring next spring and already has his to-do list and his hobbies all lined out. I encouraged him to take up golf again so he wouldn’t get bored and he’s been playing a few times a month to get back into the swing of things.

    I think one hurdle people face in retirement is looking at life differently. Like my husband. When he was younger and played golf, he was very competitive and good at it. Now he gets frustrated that he can’t play like he did then. I keep telling him to relax and do it for enjoyment!

    Even hobbies. I have many and when I was younger, every hobby was a potential home business and I spent lots of time at craft fairs and the like. Now I have to think of hobbies as just for enjoyment and not having the purpose of making money involved.

    Many things change as we get older and sometimes it’s hard to adjust our thoughts to it.

  2. Good points Joan. We do need to take into consideration the fact that things change as we age but at the same time realize that we can get as much pleasure and excitement out of life by accepting who we have become. And enjoy it one day at a time…

  3. Pingback: Weekly News Links : The Retiring Boomer

  4. The most recent SS health care cost forecast is $250,000 for a single person and $465,000 for a couple. With the unknown additional costs w/the Affordable Care Act, doctor shortages and many other unknown health care hurdles, how can anyone who is less than a millionaire retire today? My husband has chronic heart problems and I’m over 70 working in the HOT oil and gas industry which needs my specialty and will pay for it with good $ and super medical coverage. I believe I cannot get out.