8 steps to mentally prepare yourself for retirement
There are endless books, magazines and websites dedicated to preparing yourself financially for retirement, but what about preparing yourself mentally? It’s arguably the biggest transition of your life so you need to take some time and ensure that you’re ready for it.
1. A 40-hour workweek plus commuting time, getting ready for work, checking emails at home – being employed takes up a lot of time, far more than anything else you do in life. Once you retire you’ll suddenly have huge amounts of free time, which can be both exciting and terrifying. You don’t want to end up stuck in front of the TV because you can’t think of anything else to do. Create a schedule for yourself and get out of the house.
2. Give yourself permission to enjoy your new downtime. Remember all those hobbies you wanted to do but never had the time? Now you do. Take art classes, learn tai chi, swim laps every day. This is your time to enjoy your life – and don’t feel guilty about it.
3. People’s identities are often tied up with their job, so finishing work can be like losing part of yourself. In retirement, find a new purpose. It could be volunteering, writing a blog or working with a local theatre group. It’s time to remember that you are not your job and that you have plenty to offer the world – and yourself – without it.
4. Accept that your relationship with your spouse or partner will change once you retire. You will potentially be home together a lot more, which can mean getting under each other’s feet – and on each other’s nerves. You will need to create new ground rules so that you can continue to enjoy each other’s company and also spend enough time apart.
5. Retirement doesn’t have to mean stagnation and it’s important for your mental health to keep learning or testing your brain. Try crosswords, Sudoku, online puzzles or games, take up an instrument or even practice a new language. Keeping your brain active can also have wider benefits for your health in the long term, helping to prevent alzheimer’s and dementia.
6. You have potentially 20 or 30 years of retirement, so it’s a good idea to set some goals. It could be for travel, to redo the garden or finally finish writing that book. Goals give you something to work towards and a great sense of satisfaction when you achieve them.
7. Healthy body, healthy mind. It’s important to stay fit and active during retirement, both for your physical health and for your mental wellbeing. Get outside for a walk or join an exercise class at your local gym. A workout buddy is a great motivator, so get one of your friends onboard.
8. A UK study found that 1 in 8 retirees felt cut of from society and 10% felt lonely always or often. Don’t retreat into yourself during retirement and make an effort to connect with family and friends more often.