preparing for retirement: six tips for adjusting to life without work

Are you on the verge of retiring and yet to draw up your ‘action plan?’ The thought of no longer having to work can be incredibly daunting. Career coaching experts, Renovo, share 6 top tips for preparing for retirement.

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For most people, going to work brings structure and order to their life. But, as we all know, we can’t work forever. If you are approaching retirement and find the thought of no longer working daunting, it’s important you find ways to mentally adjust to your new life.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of spending most of our time planning how we are going to spend our retirement, but not so many people consider the mental impact of slowing down, no longer thinking about work and having more time and less money.

Keep reading for best practice guidance on preparing for retirement, courtesy of career coaching experts, Renovo.

take time to adjust to retirement

Adapting to being retired isn’t an overnight process. As with all major changes in life, there will be a period of adjustment. How you feel will be pivotal to this. For instance, you may feel guilty, embarrassed, helpless or anxious. It’s common for you to experience multiple feelings at different times too; some of which will come and go. Give yourself time to process your thoughts and feelings, and accept them.

People deal with retirement in different ways, but one of the most popular, is taking a well-earned holiday. Retirement holidays are great for de-stressing and considering the future. You can then return feeling relaxed and refreshed, and ready for the next chapter in your life. Remember, finding the right balance in relation to how you spend your time going forward, won’t come instantly, so don’t rush it.

identify all of the positive aspects of working

Although earning a salary may seem like the most positive aspect of working, there are a several other benefits. For many people, work is how they define themselves; it gives them a sense of identity. When you’re no longer working, it is possible to lose part of your identity.

Work colleagues and socialising, work achievements and having a purpose to every day are all part and parcel of working life. Retirement can seem like an end to all of these positive work aspects and, for some people, mentally adjusting to this change is needed. Remind yourself of your workplace strengths, and the skills and abilities you still have that you can take with you into retirement.

keep your hand in with working

Retirement doesn't have to mean a complete end to working, especially if you’ve defined yourself through your career. Many retirees:

  • do some sort of voluntary work or
  • find something they enjoy/are passionate about that builds upon their existing skills and can be done alongside working part-time or a job share.

Doing any type of work during retirement helps provide a sense of structure and purpose. For more on finding work when you’re retired, visit:

look for ways to structure your days

If retirement is approaching and continuing to work isn’t an option for you, it’s important you look for other ways to add structure to your days.

Make a note of the interests you really enjoy. For example, taking part in adult education classes, voluntary work, fitness classes and other sports activities.

Other, straightforward things, can add some structure to your life too, such as walking the dog, going to bed and getting up at the same time, reading the papers, looking after the grandkids, meeting friends for coffee and taking part in any other hobbies you may already have. And if the thought of learning something new appeals to you, The Open University is a really useful place to start looking.

keep in touch with work friends and make new contacts

Work colleagues are a huge part of working life, but you don’t have to lose this network of friends because you’ve retired. Regular lunch, dinner dates and nights out with colleagues are great for gently easing you into retirement and keeping you connected with your old world.

It only takes a phone call, email or text to arrange social events with your old colleagues. Stay in touch by joining social networking sites and make a habit of keeping in contact. At the same time, be open to making new contacts with people who may have similar interests as you. You may meet people at church or where you do voluntary work, and many more places - these relationships can help keep you going too.

focus on the positives of retiring

Retirement can be a scary prospect, but dwelling on the negatives will do little to ease your anxiety. Instead, focus on the positive aspects of retired life, such as:

  • having more leisure time to enjoy with family and friends
  • being your own boss and no longer answering to others
  • learning new skills through free or low-cost adult education classes
  • enjoying extended holidays during off-season periods when prices are low
  • having more time to reconnect with partners or spouses
  • choosing jobs you enjoy and involve flexible hours
  • having more time to spend on recreational pursuits, such as sports activities
  • feeling satisfied by taking part in volunteering or passing on skills through teaching

a final few words about preparing for retirement…

Getting used to retirement is easier if you approach it with a positive mindset. Plan and structure your days, so you fully maximise your time and feel a greater sense of achievement.

Before you retire, you may want to take a holiday where you can reflect on and adjust to the new chapter in your life or use it to spend more time with friends and family.

Where possible, see retirement as a new challenge. Use it to register for volunteering, take up a new hobby, learn new skills or do all of things you’ve never had the time to do, until now.

We are here to help you plan for your retirement. Take a look at our wealth of services, which include relationship support and a telephone friendship service.

For more retirement advice read, ‘seven steps to maintain a good relationship in retirement.’

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