By Megan Giles: Retirement Transition Consultant
First published by Over Sixty [Link: www.oversixty.com.au]
There are people who hate their job and are counting down the days until they can retire. They share with glee that it’s only 673 days until they retire and are quick to point out the shortcomings of their job, their manager, the organisation and even their colleagues. You might know one of these people. You may even be one yourself! They assume that as soon as work is taken out of the equation, life will be great. They idealise retirement as an endless holiday, free of worry.
The challenge is that for many like this, the dissatisfaction with their job can be all-consuming and it is not until they retire that they realise how strongly their job (and the associated complaining!) formed the basis of their identity. It’s positively exhausting to constantly complain and this means there is often very little ‘left in the tank’ to meet new people and try to new things outside of their job. Their world is work-centric and relatively small.
I managed Sandie the Sandstorm. Clearly not her real name but that’s how I referred to her because in moments when stress overwhelmed her it was like a tornado whipping through the office! She had become cynical of change, regularly complained about how much better the ‘old days’ were, and frequently reminded me that she could retire now ‘if she wanted to’. Yet she worked well past the typical age of retirement. Why? I suspect because she was terrified of retirement. She worked long hours (I think simply so that she had something else to complain about) which meant she had limited time for friends and family and little else to talk about apart from work. Unconsciously she feared life without work.
If you are miserable in your job, retirement may be a very appealing option. But without planning, retirement in and of itself is unlikely to be the silver bullet to your woes. Taking away something you dislike does not guarantee it will be replaced with joy and excitement.
How to take action to ensure that retirement does, in fact, bring you (or someone you love) the joy you seek.
1. Start taking action now
Plan for retirement, but don’t just think about it in abstract terms, e.g. to be ‘happy’. Consider what that will look like in practice. Does this mean an overseas trip, regular tennis matches, spending time with the grandchildren or going to the movies weekly? Plot what a typical week in retirement might look like. Now, look at your list and identify what you could start doing right now to distract from your mundane job. For example, what’s currently stopping you from going to the movies once a week? If you chose to make time, could it become a reality?
2. Establish a hobby before you retire
Make time to develop an interest outside of work before you retire. Not only will this help to create a sense of continuity when work no longer fills your waking hours but will create events to look forward to even while you are still working.
It might be joining a book club (with wine!), taking up worm framing or training for a 5km fun run. What if there was more to each day than endless reports and emails. Imagine actually looking forward to something, such as an evening run.
3. Reconnect with friends
Make a call or send a message. Who is that one friend that you have been meaning to catch-up with? What can you do to connect with them today? It is refreshing to laugh about old times (and a good belly laugh does wonders for your mood) and talk about interests outside of work. It is also reassuring to know that you’ll have support around you when you step into retirement.
4. Spend time with people who energise and light you up
Make time for the people who make you laugh, and who bring out the best in you. These are the people who will encourage you to try new things and get out of your comfort zone. They may not be the people you work with. Distance yourself from people who bring you down and drain your energy. Be curious and allow yourself to see the wonder in life, particularly that outside of work.
Take action today and set yourself up for a retirement you will love to live! And you never know, you may just enjoy the journey!
I wish you the very best on your journey,
If you enjoyed this article you may also like to read Planning for retirement – is it only about the money, money, money? and Am I The Only One Who Hasn’t Planned For Retirement?
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