Hess Associates

Why is Retirement so Challenging?

Retirement involves change. And change is never comfortable. We remember how many times we wanted to exercise more, eat healthier, and lose those nagging few pounds that make us unhappy. And we try to forget how few times we succeeded even temporarily. Let’s try to understand the changes you as a retiree will face:

1) Habits – Our habits are one of our major roadblocks. In fact habits are automatic programs that perform most of our daily functions. Recoding some of these programs isn’t easy.

2) Time – Your time becomes unstructured. The Monday to Friday routine has shrunk and the Saturday/Sunday schedule has dramatically expanded. All of the errands and tasks delegated to the weekend can now be moved to the Monday to Friday portion of the week. Leisure activities such as movies and concerts as well as fitness activities can be spread throughout the week. And this leaves many retirees
not knowing what day of the week it is.

3) Distractions – Distractions are ubiquitous. There are many meaningless distractions as watching TV, daydreaming, reading newspapers, and playing games on your favorite mobile device, but there are also good distractions such as having coffee with friends.

4) “GO TO” person – As the retired person you become the fixer for family and friends and become designated to do the work. You are the one who is expected to come up with solutions and execute them as you are the one who has retired.

5) Loss of identity – Our society defines the individual by the work they do which is tied up with our self esteem. Retirement can change you from the senior corporate executive to the man walking the dog at 3 PM which can be a great loss in self esteem. You also have less reason to feel that sense of accomplishment which nourishes your soul.

6) Money – Frequently you may have less money to spend and more time to spend it.

7) Health – you can spend more time worrying needlessly about your health and seeing more doctors and specialists for minor ailments.

8) Loneliness – At retirement age, it is not unusual to lose loved ones. Being able to share the wacky parts of life as well as the difficult ones without a spouse, family member, or friend can add to the feeling of loneliness. This feeling increases as one ages, so having a circle of friends or family
helps to decrease that feeling of isolation and loneliness

Despite the fact that in the Western world people are now living longer than at any time in history, some of us have a very strong desire to retire early. The question is whether this is a wise thing to do.

The people with the longest longevity (and are among the happiest) live in Okinawa, Japan. They don’t even have a word for “retirement.” The closest they come is “Ikigai”
which means Reason for Being. The French have “Raison D’etre” — but they also have a word for retirement.

A gentleman in his late 80’s who was working full time was asked when he intended to retire and responded “I retire every night.” Maybe the answer to aging well is “never retire.”

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