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More stuff on retirement

  1. 1. return to top What am I going to do with my time? Social, recreational and occupational issues • When you work full time, you spend more than 2,000 hours per year working and commuting. When you retire, think about what you're going to do to fill the time. • Look at the following chart - the time you spend working now will be time you need to fill in retirement. If you're an early riser, what will you do to fill the time during your day? • If you have a life partner, the time you spend away from each other during the workday is spent together when you're retired. It will require some readjustment and planning, and good communication: clearly expressing thoughts and feelings, careful listening, and mutual decision-making. Couples who talk about and plan for retirement well ahead of the event have better success. • Recognize that you spend a lot of time in your job, and that it affects your sense of self-worth; you feel like you're contributing to part of a big picture. In retirement, boredom can be a major, negative factor. Your body and mind will need time to adjust to the new rhythm and reality of being retired. • Develop your social network: it's essential to your health and well-being. If work left you with little time for friends, take time to rebuild your friendships in retirement. Replace the friendships you had at work with new friends outside work. Are any of your friends or family members close to retirement age? • Make a list of the top 20 things you'd like to do in retirement. What haven't you had time for during your working years? Taking courses, gardening, traveling, community theatre, political involvement, volunteering… If you have a partner, have them also make a list. READY - SET - GO? by Dick Korthals What can we expect and how can we best prepare for the years following retirement? Since we are all different, not only in human characteristics but also
  2. 2. in work experience and family situations, a comprehensive prep list is nearly impossible. However, the following areas are worth considering as you prepare for this significant transition in your lifestyle: 1. If you are married, you may notice increased feelings of tension between you and your spouse. Things have changed since your honeymoon days, when your sole desire was to be with your beloved 24 hours a day. Though you may still enjoy one another’s company, you may have come to appreciate the freedom of “your own space.” You have probably grown accustomed to saying goodbye in the morning and sharing the day’s happenings after a late afternoon return home. When two individuals are suddenly thrown together 24/7 — each with well- established habits — is it any wonder that nerves become taut? As you prepare for retirement, try to build in some of the freedom you and your mate formerly enjoyed. Plan individual activities or hobbies that will absorb a portion of the time once spent in your former vocation. 2. An empty restless feeling is a distinct possibility for retirees. Routine is the name of the game for most of us. Our bodies enjoy the regulating rhythm of an established “early to bed, early to rise” (perhaps it’s the opposite for you!) regime of eight-hour days. Added pleasure is found in a predictable gathering of friends and/or co-workers. A sudden change to the usual can send your nervous system into a whirl. Now is the time to begin planning activities to fill the vacuum. You may even choose to consider a gradual transition by going from full to part-time work. 3. Disappointment has a way of erasing the happy smile that many advertisements portray on the face of the recent retiree. One of the myths prevalent in today’s culture is that happiness is the natural outgrowth of a leisurely life packed with an abundance of toys. Yet quite the opposite is true. We find the ultimate satisfaction not it getting, but in giving. Remove the opportunity for giving once found in occupation, and an individual may be left struggling with an empty, worthless feeling. It’s not too soon to start thinking of creative ways to transform the time, experience, resources and abilities once used to elevate your lifestyle to enhancing the lives of others. Dozens of non-profit organizations depend on volunteers to carry out their mission. Giving of yourself will restore a feeling of worth — with the grateful smiles of recipients creating the icing on the cake. 4. Depression can be the natural outgrowth of a mindset that views reaching retirement age as the apex of your life — with everything that follows labeled the “downhill slope.” It happens when we mentally picture this juncture as the destination, rather than a way station on our journey through life. We often see aging and retirement as the point where all learning ceases and worthwhile activities grind to a halt. In reality, this
  3. 3. stage signals a change from enforced labor to the freedom to follow previously unexplored paths of opportunity. The so-called “golden years” can become the most productive and satisfying years of your life. This might be the time to take dreams once shelved because of time constraints and turn them into reality. 5. Nostalgia is the result of living in the past. It comes naturally to those who point with pride to past accomplishments as their “claim to fame.” They long for the accolades that once were theirs and love to regale acquaintances with tales from their glory years. Beneath the surface, however, may lie feelings of having missed the opportunity to “grab the ring.” Accompanying this is a loss of self-esteem as one mentally compares himself with others. There is no harm in looking back over your shoulder or enjoying fond memories of the past. However, life is much more exciting when we fix our eyes on the future, focusing on accomplishments still awaiting us. The Golden Years have a way of becoming tarnished and eroded. It takes elbow grease and perseverance to do the polishing necessary to keep this natural deterioration from occurring. Don’t give up; eventually the glow will become so pervasive that others will notice and ask you to reveal your secret. Plan ahead — it is an investment that will pay big dividends — and you just might end up improving your corner of the world. Dick Korthals is a long-time retiree and has worked as a volunteer since 1994. He is also the author of the recently released My Savior at My Side. Living Together: Couple Relationships in Retirement Moving into retirement often means setting new boundaries with your spouse - Kaye Healey explains. Retirement, or 'changing course', is one of the most significant life changes most couples will ever have to face together. For many couples, retirement offers the chance to take on a new direction in their relationship which can: • enhance their outlook on life • provide an opportunity for further self-development • give comfort and support • strengthen their friendship • encourage adventure • stimulate their thinking • deepen their reflection
  4. 4. One of the biggest challenges facing couples in retirement is the need to redefine their relationship because now they will spend more time together than ever before. However, not all couples retire at the same time, and this can be a potential source of conflict unless addressed beforehand. Redefining your relationship in retirement Retirement offers couples an opportunity to reappraise their relationship and to redirect their energies into exploring new areas of life so they can reassess and express what they now want in their relationship - and their retirement - and it might be different things. It might be more togetherness - or more space. It might be less responsibility - or more. Of necessity, it will be about communicating more effectively to negotiate potential areas of conflict. It sounds simple enough. However, one person may be goal-and strategy- orientated while the other may prefer to live each day as it comes. In everyday life this can provide a healthy counterpoise but during major life transitions it can open the way to conflict, especially when both partners need to agree on a modus operandi. A couple's happiness will be enhanced by discussing mutual expectations across a range of issues, such as: • learning - and the need, or desire, for further education • work - will either of you want, or need, to work for part of your retirement? • leisure - golf 3 times a week may not be the 'leisure' your partner had in mind! • finance - who will look after the finances and paperwork? • health - the need for regular checkups, good mental health, fitness, a healthy diet • home - where do you both want to live in early, and late, retirement? Remember, it could span 30 years or more! • relationships - with adult children, grandchildren - and ageing parent carer responsibilities • spirituality - what place does reflection and the inner life hold for each person? Do you know what your own and your partner's expectations and aspirations are about each of these issues? When partners retire at different times
  5. 5. Imagine this scenario: you have seen your accountant - and you have found an independent, qualified financial adviser whom your best friend described as 'the best thing that ever happened!' Your financial adviser doesn't think you're a dummy because you don't understand the financial jargon your retired golfing buddies discuss ad infinitum at the club. You want, and need, to understand all the implications of the financial decisions you are about to make and she explains the various options and offers you a range of investment choices. You feel relieved that your finances now seem well organised. So when you arrive home you proudly announce to your wife: 'Honey, we're retiring!' Your joint retirement is going to be a piece of cake. So why is your wife crying? A man in his early 60s may have already worked for 40 years and now wants to retire. His wife, on the other hand, may have re-entered the workforce much later due to child-raising responsibilities and she may be advancing in her career and not want to retire at the same time as her husband. A fairly recent phenomenon is the pressure on women to retire. A woman in her 50s may not feel she has yet acquired sufficient savings in her superannuation or pension fund to retire comfortably and independently of her spouse or partner. The empty nest may still be warm, and the responsibilities of having children living at home for so many years just fading. She may feel she still has attainable work goals, and wants to achieve them - not stay at home looking after a retired husband. Retirement brings different rewards for husbands and wives. So can two people who have enjoyed a successful marriage for three decades now share their home 24 hours a day without driving each other crazy? The issue of 'lunch' While there are numerous retirement issues which couples need to discuss, one of the hottest topics is the issue of shared space at home, especially when one partner has spent more time at home and the other partner more time at work. It may come as a surprise, therefore, for newly-retired couples, to discover how hard it can be sharing the home, often 24 hours a day - and accommodating each other's needs for personal and public space. A couple may retire and leave their work environment behind, but for one of them, usually the woman, the home is also a place of work, mainly because the traditional division of domestic labour has usually resulted in women doing the lion's share of housework.
  6. 6. Territorial issues can often arise to muddy the potentially peaceful waters of retirement. 'What's for lunch'? may seem the most innocuous of enquiries for a retired husband who may be momentarily taken aback by his wife's cool, or feisty, response. 'Married for life but not for lunch' as the saying goes. Generally speaking, men are more geared to form and structure and outcomes - they approach the day in a more linear fashion - one task preceding another. Women's lives are often much more fluid. They are used to 'juggling', or multi-tasking. A woman can be putting on a load of washing, making a mental list of things to do today, deciding on what to cook for dinner and telephoning a friend to organise a meeting of the local book group. She's just unpacked the dishwasher, wiped down the benches, swept the kitchen floor and thought: 'Now I can get on with the day's work'. Then her husband returns home from a mid-morning game of golf and makes a cup of coffee. While getting the milk from the refrigerator, he stares absently at the empty shelves and says: 'What'll we have for lunch?' For the husband who is now at home most of the time, retirement can make him feel like a fish out of water. He has no set responsibilities to speak of, no imposed routine, there are no performance goals or benchmarks, no expectations, no colleagues to discuss the football results with, no escape from the house, which seems more his wife's natural domain than his - and she still has her work. And he may envy her that. These are the sorts of issues, simple though they may seem, that can take on great significance in retirement unless they are discussed well beforehand and as they arise. In retirement, a couple's relationship is in the process of being reinvented and reintegrated after many years of working, child raising, and sometimes, having differing interests. Remember how easy it was to unwittingly say the wrong thing and have a 'tiff' when you were newly engaged or married? Mainly because you hadn't lived with each other for a long time - you didn't really know each other's moods and rhythms well enough. The retirement stage of life is like that. It's about readjusting to the different patterns and rhythms of daily life and combining them into a peaceable whole that accommodates each other's needs and identity. Seemingly mundane issues, such as 'lunch' and the unfolding day's activities, need to be taken into account when discussing what each other's expectations are and how you will both redefine your relationship in retirement. 50Something magazine, April/May 2003 ©Kaye Healey, 2003