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Monetary aspects of retirement are usually first and foremost in people’s minds. They diligently save money for their golden years. This is a fear based approach though. People worry about not having money to live after they stop working so they singularly focus on that.

I was the perfect example of that kind of singular focus. The minute I was convinced I had enough financial resources to sustain my life, I retired. The honeymoon phase of retirement is nice. Not having to wake up early every day; not sitting through endless and meaningless meetings; not having to deal with people who don’t hesitate to hurt you in order to advance their careers. Retirement was bliss, for a minute!

Some of us are intrinsically driven. Work provides more than money for us to live, it provides meaning and satisfaction. Turns out, I am one of those people. I missed the structure of waking up at a set time to start my day; I missed the camaraderie of (some) of my colleagues; I even missed some of the meetings where useful projects were discussed and accomplished.

Accomplishment is one of the dimensions of well being according to positive psychology. After retirement, a significant contributor to this dimension is no longer available. It is natural to become bored or feel useless. Statistics show that depression, alcoholism, and divorce rates go up for retirees. We need to find new ways to satisfy this part of our lives. These can include volunteering, taking on a part time job, starting a business, going back to school, etc. 

A friend of mine chose volunteering and part time work. Every time we talk, I see that the spark, that she had lost after retirement, has returned to her eyes. I am so happy for her. I chose volunteering, and school, and new business. Unfortunately, the pandemic ended my volunteer opportunity, but I am grateful for the two businesses that I started. Not only do they provide additional income but also an opportunity to learn new things and a sense of accomplishment.

So, as you ponder your retirement, please take a moment to reflect and consider how you are going to address this important dimension of well being. Will you learn a new trade like wood carving or cake decorating? (Working with your hands is an important way to slow cognitive decline.) Will you start mentoring your younger former colleagues? Will you at long last start that coffee roasting business that you had been thinking about for years, like one of my former clients did? Whatever it is, even just reflecting and planning for these things will help.

Wishing you a fulfilling retirement!

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