Are you emotionally ready?

Regular columnist and Retirement Coach Dr Jon Glass outlines seven signs that your retirement could be more fulfilling—and how to make improvements.

By Dr Jon Glass - 3 min 20 sec read

A little about Jon

Dr Jon Glass runs retirement coaching business 64PLUS (The opinions expressed are those of Dr Jon Glass and 64Plus. Russell Investments does not endorse, and is not accountable for, any views expressed by Dr Jon Glass or 64Plus.) He coaches individuals to a clearer understanding of the issues they will face post work. He has studied counselling and coaching at The Australian College of Applied Psychology and The Institute of Executive Coaching and Leadership.

In my four previous articles I explored: the myths and realities of retirement; planning to make the most of your retirement years; finding purpose in your new-found free time; and setting boundaries to ensure you retain control of your destiny.  

Each of these articles was fundamentally concerned with creating a strong ‘emotional plan’ for your retirement.  

As we approach and enter retirement, most of us plan carefully for how we will manage our finances and health. But we often overlook our emotional readiness, and this may hold us back from living life to its fullest. But the good news is that it’s never too late to create an emotional plan to ensure our life in retirement is happy and fulfilling. 

See the signs 

There are seven tell-tale signs that you may have gaps in your emotional readiness for retirement, and may benefit from making an emotional plan:  

1 When asked about your activities in your retired life you frequently refer to your working life, using pronouns such as “we” and “us”. This suggests strongly that a great amount of YOUR identity is still connected to work. Of course, it is a fact that you once worked and that will always be part of your life, but how ‘present’ does it need to be in your retirement?
2 You observe that some of your retired friends are having a more fulfilling retirement than you, which makes you wonder what YOU are lacking. Let’s face it, most judgments we make in life are relative to others (wealth, success, etc.) so it’s only natural to make these comparisons. The point is to go deeper and to learn from the experiences and lifestyles of others in a way that is helpful to you.
3 You overhear your close friends or relatives, including adult children, talking about how concerned they are because YOU don’t seem to be very motivated in retirement. They talk about how they are worried about your well-being. This matters because generally it’s best not to completely ignore the opinions of your own nearest and dearest.
4 You feel you could get more from your retirement. Sure, you may exercise regularly, engage deeply with various WhatsApp or other social media groups, and you check your finances daily. But are you moving forward in locating and exploiting your hidden talents?
5 You may feel busy, but do you know why? We discussed BINAM (Busy Is Not Always Meaningful) in the first article. For example, this may manifest as what I call ‘the grandparent trap’. It’s wonderful to help your adult children and their children but it is important to know when (and how) to draw the line. The most powerful two letter word in our language can be ‘No’.
6 You are in a comfort zone that feels, well, a little too comfortable. It’s lovely to meet up with the same group of friends, read the same newspapers, as you have for years, but why not try some new experiences? 
7 You feel that you are not doing anything productive or useful. Deep down you want to, but you don’t know where to start. 

Reflect and review 

Can you notice any of these signs in your retired life, or the retired life you are about to embark upon? 

If so, there are improvements you can make—although there is no simple answer.  

All seven of the points above connect to your meaning and purpose in retirement. If you can do the hard work to locate your meaning and purpose, everything else follows. You will then be in a position to adopt what is known as a ‘growth mindset’.  

Expand your horizons 

Adopting a growth mindset involves prompting yourself mentally, physically, emotionally to take on new challenges, to take appropriate risks and to listen to feedback. This might sound daunting, but you can do it. You had a growth mindset when you worked (you may not have called it that), therefore you can do it again.  

Also, you can do it because, quite frankly, you are going to have a lot of time on your hands. As I said in the first article, your retirement could amount to 10,000 days. 

Finally, as with making any type of plan, you can always seek professional guidance. A retirement coach can help put these emotional aspects of retirement in a context and assist you to locate your meaning and purpose. It’s not easy, but it can be done. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not purport to reflect the views and opinions of Russell Investments.

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