Adjusting to Retirement: What to Expect

Written by Andrew Wilson

 When you spend decades preparing for your retirement, it’s easy to think of retirement as little more than a financial undertaking. Save enough money, quit at the right time, live within your means, and everything will be fine, right? But the adjustment to retirement is one of life’s major transitions. After all, you’ve probably defined yourself by the work you do for decades. So when you’re no  longer working outside of the home, it’s easy to feel a bit lost. Here’s what you can expect from your transition.

A Financial Shift

For perhaps the first time in your life, you’re no longer drawing in a paycheck, but you are taking money from your retirement stockpile. That alone is enough to leave you a bit uneasy, so don’t be surprised if you find yourself fixating on finances for a while. You’ll need to find ways to adjust your expenses. Ditch that gym membership you no longer use, and consider cooking more meals at home. Once you’ve fallen into a new financial groove, though, you may be surprised to learn that you really don’t have to deprive yourself if you’ve appropriately planned for your retirement.

Anxiety About Money

When you’re not making money, it’s natural to be anxious about finances. And if you didn’t save enough for retirement, or if you have unexpected expenses, anxiety is almost inevitable. Establish a relationship with a financial advisor you trust early on, then keep working with this person as your situation changes. If your anxiety persists, consider this: seniors have options that younger people do not. If you own your own home and need cash to fund an emergency, home repairs, or some other expense, consider a reverse mortgage. This option offers you tax-free cash that you do not have to repay as long as you remain in your home.

Confusion About What’s Next

In the first weeks of retirement, you might feel positively giddy, totally footloose and fancy-free. But as the realities of life without work set in, you might begin feeling useless, confused, and even depressed. This is normal. Give yourself time to adjust to this significant life development. Take some time to consider how you want to spend your time, then do all those things that working always kept you from—whether it’s starting a garden, starting a nonprofit, or just spending more time with your family.

Increased Family Conflict

You probably envisioned retirement as a chance to spend more time with the people you love the most. But more time together can also mean more conflict, particularly if you’re also struggling with the emotional adjustment to retirement. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself snapping at your spouse more, or if your kids want a break from togetherness. Give it time and be willing to work through it, and you’ll soon find your family relationships adjusting to your retirement.

A Shift Toward Generativity

Generativity is the tendency to look toward future generations and what you can contribute. Shifting toward this mindset marks a major psychological change that can imbue your retirement with meaning and purpose. Rather than focusing on what you can get out of your retirement, you might find yourself eventually considering what you can offer the world, the next generation, and your family. If you are struggling with the retirement adjustment, know that this shift toward generativity may be the most helpful way to settle into your golden years.


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About LoveBeingRetired

Dave Bernard is a California born and raised author and blogger with an extensive 30 year career in Silicon Valley. He has written more than 300 blogs for US News & World On Retirement and his personal blog Retirement – Only the Beginning. He has authored three books: "Are you just existing and calling it a life?"; "I want to retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be"; and " Navigating the Retirement Jungle". Dave was also a contributing writer for the books 65 Things to do when you Retire (“Positive Aging – Old is the New Young”) as well as 65 Things to do when you Retire – TRAVEL (“Travel to Discover your Family Heritage”). He lives in sunny California with his wife, his Boston Terrier "Frank" and a passion for the San Jose Sharks.