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What am I going to do with my time? Social, recreational and occupational
• 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
• 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
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
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
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
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
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
• finance - who will look after the finances and paperwork?
• health - the need for regular checkups, good mental health, fitness, a
• 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
• spirituality - what place does reflection and the inner life hold for each
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
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
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.