The Psychology of Retirement

The Psychology of Retirement


Last updated January 2023.

When we talk about retirement, we often talk about it in terms of saving. That’s not a bad thing, especially considering that most of our working lives we dedicate a significant amount of money to saving for retirement.  But one of the most overlooked factors of retirement is the psychology of it.

It can be easy to think about retirement as a monolithic numbers game, but it’s also important to consider the psychological consequences so you can feel safe and secure heading into your golden years.

Transitioning From One Era To The Next

Emphasizing retirement as a life transition can help mitigate any anxiety or stress surrounding the process. Start creating a bucket list of exciting things to accomplish, like:

  • A trip to Asia
  • Driving cross-country to babysit your new grandchild
  • Volunteering for a safari in Africa

All of these ideas are ‘big-ticket’ items and once-in-a-lifetime adventures. But what will your days look like once you’ve checked those off the list?

Retirement will bring about many changes in your day-to-day routine that can greatly impact your mental well-being. It’s estimated that 20% of people aged 55 and older experience some type of mental health concern. Whether it’s anxiety, depression, or cognitive impairment, you become more susceptible to mental health issues as you age.

With 50+ extra hours a week to spare, making a conscious effort to plan for the lifestyle you want in retirement is essential. Just like you would prepare for a major life event, use those same tenets to help build up your personal livelihood plan for retirement. 

Home is Where the Heart Is

In retirement, your living situation may change. It’s important to think about where you see yourself and how you can plan to get there. Here are some options to consider.

  • Stay in your own home
  • Downsize your home to free up cash flow to pursue some of your other hobbies like traveling, art, fashion, music, etc.
  • Move closer to family or friends

When thinking about the space you will want to live in, consider it part of your holistic retirement plan. If you know you want to be near your children and they are farther away from you, plan for the logistics of the move including pricing and timelines. If you want to live in your current home, you may need to make an ‘aging in place’ plan to be able to live independently and safely.

The more you plan ahead, the more secure you (and your family) will be in your retirement plans.

Run Forrest Run

Staying active in retirement is crucial to long-term happiness. The endorphins you get from exercise are important for your physical and mental well-being. 

Not very athletic? Not a problem—any form of exercise will help you stay in shape and feel like the best version of yourself.  Some great ways to exercise are:

  • Walking
  • Hiking
  • Yoga
  • Swimming
  • Aerobics
  • Dancing

Exercising is wonderful for your physical health, but it also fosters a greater sense of community. Going to an aerobics or dance class can be a great way to meet new people and make social contacts.

For example, at Retire To, after a colleague’s grandmother retired, she trained and completed an Ironman Championship Triathlon in Hawaii. That feat had always been a dream of hers, and she took it on when she had the time to dedicate to training for the race. 

Whatever form of exercise you choose, build it into your new routine—you may be surprised how much you look forward to it each day.

The Reason Is You

In your working life, you had many motivations, most of which likely surrounded on advancing your career. Once you find that has changed, how will you work to keep yourself motivated? 

What is your purpose?

Before you retire, visualize what you want to do with your time. Start by thinking about some of your passions and list them out. Find at least 3-4 things that you do that bring you joy or things that you have an interest in learning more about such as:

  • Indulge in a new hobby like singing, pottery, or winemaking
  • Help your community by volunteering
  • Join a mentorship program to help shape young minds
  • Join or start a club 
  • Create the garden of your dreams
  • Learn a new skill such as cooking, baking, playing an instrument, or a new language
  • Start a business

The list could go on and on. The important thing is that your list is filled with things that you’re passionate about. Once you have these items, think about ways to implement them in your new life.

Focus on Community

We rely on our community during all stages of life. If you get promoted, start a family, or buy a new house, your community is there to support you.

That community is critical during your years in retirement.

It can be intimidating to put yourself out there, but remember to be confident. Get out of your pajamas and put on your good shoes to go meet some of the members of your community. See what events your local senior center has going on—most offer exercise classes like yoga, game nights, and volunteer events. There may even be some local Facebook groups you could join!

If you want to grow your mind, consider attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Furman. They offer courses to further learning, health and well-being, personal connection, creativity, and enjoyment. They also have trips, special interest groups, social events, and a lunch-and-learn series.

Becoming more active in your community will help restore motivation and purpose in your life after you’ve stopped working.

Don’t Forget To Have Fun

Have you always been a big reader? Well after you have bonded with some people over the game night you went to, you may have discovered that some other people like the same types of books that you do, and they want to start a book club. 

You may have met some fellow golf fanatics and want to start a golf club that tees off every Thursday morning.

The important thing is to find joy in your daily life with the people around you. Having a passion or hobby is more fun when you can enjoy it with others around you! Finding like-minded people to form quality relationships with is wonderful to help enrich your life in retirement.

Keep Calm and Hustle On

Just because you retired doesn’t mean that you have to give up working completely; many retirees have part-time jobs. In fact, 55% of workers plan to continue to work in some way during retirement. 

Maybe you have always been musically gifted and want to give piano lessons, or you want to be a salesperson in your quaint small-town boutique. Part-time work will help give you the structure you need to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle in retirement.

If you loved the work at your previous company and are still interested in working there, ask to see if there are any other options for you. You could do some consulting or change your hours to a more flexible schedule.

If working at your old place of employment isn’t an option for you then find work that you have always been interested in and pursue it. It may seem silly to make a career change at this stage but think of it as an investment in your new life. It’s never too late to start a new dream!

Do Good

When retirement rolls around, you often have more time to devote to things you care most about. One way to live this out is through volunteering.

Volunteering for a charity or non-profit organization can help you make a difference. It’s also an excellent way to develop a community and create a sense of belonging.

Planning for retirement is two-fold. It involves an active savings strategy, but it also requires you to think about a new plan, a new structure, and a new way to live. Retirement isn’t just a walk in the park–but it could include that if you want it to.

Our experienced financial advisors at Goepper Burkhardt  Retirement Wealth Management can work with you to create a retirement plan that meets your goals and dreams. Reach out to our team to get started.

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