Why Retirement Should Scare You

Much of what we read and hear suggests retirement should be a wonderful time of new adventure, exciting moments and blissful days. We finally have the free time to pursue passions and explore new hobbies, rather than being forced to adhere to the dictates of a job or career. But when you think about your retirement-to-be, do you ever find yourself feeling a bit anxious? Here are six reasons you might not experience the retirement you are hoping for:

Dwindling savings. Retirees are not always financially prepared to realize the blissful retirement life they aspire to. The stock market crash of 2008 wiped out trillions of dollars in retirement accounts. When the stock market eventually bottomed out in the first quarter of 2009, retirement accounts had lost about $2.7 trillion, 31 percent of their peak 2007 value.

No more paydays. For some people, things are finally starting to get back on track. But those years of lost account growth cannot be recouped. And many people continue to struggle with no happy end in sight. Some employees have been prematurely forced from jobs due to health issues or changes in their business, short-circuiting plans to build savings accounts to fund retirement. And it’s not easy to get another job once you pass age 50. Middle-age job hunters are discovering that many companies prefer to bring in younger folks who are more affordable and cheaper to insure.

Health problems. Health concerns can become more acute as we move up the age ladder. Despite our best efforts, we are just not as capable of doing all the things we did while younger. What kind of retirement will it be if we find ourselves physically unable to take advantage of the free hours we worked so hard to achieve? It is one thing to contemplate how you will strive to accept aging and its various challenges. It is quite another to find yourself living those challenges day in and day out.

Boredom. Boredom is a real possibility for people who have grown accustomed to work filling the hours in the day. Few people have to worry about keeping busy while caught up in 8- to 12-hour days. We all know how important it is to remain active and engaged as we age to fight off the effects of aging. But what exactly are you going to do to keep engaged and active? Consider whether you have enough hobbies and interests to keep you busy during the many retirement years ahead. For those who retire at 65, 20 or more years await you in retirement. Filling those years pursuing your passions sounds excellent, unless you haven’t identified any passions to inspire your days.

End of life issues. Couples will need to adjust to the reality that one member is likely to outlive the other. After so many years spent together, the prospect of spending your remaining years without a familiar hand to hold can be terrifying. It scares me to imagine living my second act without my wife to share in moments and make them that much more special.

Dependency. Another unwelcome companion to aging can be the tendency to lose one’s independence. Whether retiring in place or navigating the roads in our cars, seemingly little things can become a struggle as we advance in years. No one wants to give up their independent living. And no one wants to be a burden on family and friends.

It sometimes scares me to think of the realities that retirement may hold. As an optimist, I hope for the best and try not to let potential negatives cloud my outlook. Perhaps if I can go into retirement with preparations for and acceptance that life will be different from what it has been to this point, I can experience some of the magic that we all search for in our second act.

From my US News & World blog. Dave Bernard is the author of “I Want To Retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be“. Although not yet retired, he focuses on identifying and understanding the essential components of a fulfilling and meaningful retirement. He shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only The Beginning.