How to ride this major wave of change
There is possibly no other transition in life that demands a more personal transformation than retirement. Finances change. Relationships change. The entire pattern of life changes. During this exciting time, feelings rise to the surface and not all of them are wonderful. Emotions like self doubt start to settle in. Some women even start to wonder what their real purpose is in life. The question then becomes, how can you brave this transition without being swept away emotionally.
“Retirement is harder work that people think. You have to keep evaluating everything,” says Evey Lamont, founder of Primetime Transition Coaching.
Lamont works with people of all ages to help them manage transition, but her primary focus is on people who are retiring. She coaches one-on-one and offers retirement workshops as well. Surprisingly she says it’s common for people to spend more time planning a two-week vacation than they do planning for retirement.
YOUR SOCIAL PORTFOLIO
Most people start by looking at their finances, but just like having a healthy financial portfolio, Lamont recommends her clients have a healthy social portfolio as well.
“The biggest thing for most women I see is social. You have ready-made relationships at work,” Lamont says. That's why tapping into your social portfolio, and making sure it's diverse, is a key factor in retirement. Look at your social connections and write them out if you need to. Your social pool should include young people, people your own age, new friends, old friends, friends from work, and at least one person other than your spouse who you can talk to about everything, Lamont says. Brainstorm ways to meet new people or build relationships with interesting acquaintances. Audit a college class, volunteer, or become involved in civic organizations.
It’s also smart to schedule social activities, especially in the beginning. Lamont says these social calls don’t have to be anything elaborate. It could be something as simple as a coffee date or early morning walk. Shoot for one or two get-togethers a week. She adds, “You need to have something that keeps you in the stream of life."
When you're working and living on your own timetable, Evey says now is the time to make your physical health a top priority. She says, why not set fitness goals? Hit the gym twice a week, walk three mornings a week, or plan a weekend hike.
Doctors know that exercise increases endorphins which equates to better mental health in addition to the physical benefits. Make a plan to take a fitness class at a health club or plan regular walks with a neighbor. "Goal setting gives us a forward thinking focus and a sense of purpose,” Lamont says. “Having something you write down and work towards also gives you a sense of productivity, which is so important.” Lamont adds that just like your social life, it’s good to have a schedule. Put fitness on your calendar, write out your goals, and you’ll be more likely to stay on track.
THE UPS & DOWNS
One of Lamont’s clients had recently left a fulfilling career where he did lots of problem solving for clients and co-workers. In retirement, he discovered that he no longer had the role of helper, and was disappointed when his offers to jump in and help were rebuffed by family members.
“If you’ve been working steadily, you need to think ahead and be ready to replace all the things work brought,” Lamont says.
Those intangibles are often the hardest ones to identify. It can help to think about every aspect of your career and try to identify the high points and the low points. What did you like and what didn't you like? How did you deal with change, crisis and the unknown while on the job? Talk to your spouse or a trusted friend about how you handled the ups and downs at work. That way, when you’re hit with disappointment in retirement you won’t be surprised and might have some tools on hand to cope.
“If you’ve talked about it, you can recognize when you’re in it,” Lamont says.
Retirement can bring new joys to a well-lived life, but it won’t be all roses. The more time you spend preparing in all different aspects of your life, Lamont says, the easier it will be to ride this somewhat emotional wave of change.
PLANNING FOR RETIREMENT
Pick up these great reads to help get you ready
If you've recently retired or are watching your retirement date quickly approaching, Evey Lamont, a Billings retirement coach says these are two of her top picks in books that could help you in your transition.
"Looking Forward ... an Optimist's Guide to Retirement" by Ellen Freudenheim
"Don't Retire, REWIRE! 5 Steps to Fulfilling Work that Fuels Your Passion, Suits Your Personality, or Fills Your Pocket" by Jeri Sedlar and Rick Miners
Did you know?
The U.S. Department of Social Security estimates that 10,000 people a day are reaching the age of 65, long considered the age of retirement.