How To Avoid Retirement Panic

I know, I’ve done it. Retiring is like jumping off a cliff on a foggy day. You can pretend you know what you are in for, but since you were never there before, you really don’t know. It’s a cliff-jump into the unknown.

There are so many aspects to this retiring event-experience, but some are easy to specify. Like money. Like usefulness. Like what to do with oneself.

Athlete. 500BC.
Athlete. 500BC.

Let Talk Money
With all media attention to a retirement “crisis,” it is no surprise that there would be possible anxiety over one’s retirement finances. Enter “retirement crisis” in Google and get 78,700,000 results. And it is impossible to really know in advance all one’s expenses. Some are obvious, but some come out of the blue. We more or less know how much we need to spend on housing and probably food, and regularly scheduled utilities, taxes, and so on. But healthcare… that’s only one of those elephants in the room. What can one unexpected event can do? Wildly unknown.

Let’s Talk Usefulness
When we were working, we had a place to be, a job to do, we had a purpose that was define by our interactions with others. We earned income as a result, so our potential financial well-being was intertwined with our relation to production or results with others. Now, when retired, we may have no clue as to where we fit in, what we can do to be a member of a society that worships productivity.

Let’s Talk About Who We Are
When we were working, often what we did was based on our working needs: our social interactions, our job, and so on. Once we retire, everything shifts and many ends become loose. Who are we? Who are we beyond what we have done in our working life? What are we to do each day? What are we trying to accomplish? Are we trying to accomplish anything? Should we? Should we care? Should we care about anything?

We Arrive At The Line
It is possible to cope and survive and even flourish in this new unknown world. It does take some understanding and persistence.

First, we will need to understand that for the most part, things will work out ok. Although we don’t really know what will transpire, our survival is the normal course of events.

Understand This
If we have or expect income, such as Social Security or others, then we, by knowledge of how much we are to receive frames expectations. Know that people adjust their lives to the income they are receiving, and you will too. It may take some moments to accommodate yourself to that fact, but you will too.

Streets to London Bridge. 1760.
Streets to London Bridge. 1760.

Financial Suggestion
May I suggest that upon retirement, or hopefully before, you do not go to either extreme financially. Namely, neither be extremely parsimonious nor extremely  extravagant. A steady hand on your wallet is the best course. After a time, perhaps several months or a year, we will have a better understanding of our financial state.

Usefulness Suggestion
May I suggest that upon retirement, or hopefully before, we look upon ourselves outside of the employment world. What skills do we have, what benefits can we bring to any situation? And it is not by virtue of having been or done something previously. It is by virtue of what we have inside that makes us clearly novel among all others.

Who We Are Suggestion
May I suggest that upon retirement, or hopefully before, we look upon ourselves as an individual. We were not the person based on the job title. We are a person, individually, without the burdens and hardships of our former organization. We stand proud in what we are: a unique human individual. There is time to explore and determine a new place for us. There is no need for anxiety.

Social Interaction
The working world gave us social interaction on a daily basis. Upon retirement, much if not all of that has or can be drained away. So it becomes time to review our social connections. There is no need or expectation to break previous connections, we can retain many; perhaps at a changed or different level. So it becomes of great benefit to renew those connections that may have atrophied in recent time. Similarly, the new world we are in, with often increased free time at our disposal, allows for making new associations.

Shield of Achilles. 1749.
Shield of Achilles. 1749.

The Perception Way
One way to look at this situation we are in is to perceive this new world as if we had just arrived from another plant. We are aliens, trying to make sense of what we find and what we see. What is the environment we find ourselves in? What and who are the natives that we find? What are they doing? How do they manage their lives? What are their blind spots? If we were one of them, what would we do differently?

Vital Actions
Taking care of ourselves is now our new business. Years and decades being of benefit to others and larger organizations have now transformed so we now have ourselves to be of benefit to. How will we do it?

What have you found to be the best approach to being retired? How have you coped? Send a comment here: Contact.

The statuette of an athlete, is from Peloponnesus, Greece, approx. 510-500 BC.

The plans of streets near London Bridge appeared in Gentlemen’s Magazine, 1760.

The Shield of Achilles  appeared in Gentlemen’s Magazine, 1749.

The statuette of an athlete is courtesy Cleveland Museum of Art. Items from the Gentlemen’s Magazine are in the Public Domain and are courtesy Michigan State University.

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