Like many other life transitions, retirement comes with emotional and mental adjustments. Your transition to retirement will not happen overnight.
Most retirees will go through stages of emotions when adjusting to a new life. Give yourself some time to understand that this will be a process. Learn how to slow down. Pause and relax. The process of transitioning should be a gradual learning curve.
Here are a few practical tips to help you make a smooth transition to retirement.
Prepare for ups and downs.
The first year of retirement will be filled with bumps and adjustments no matter how well you are prepared.
Do not expect the transition from your 30+ years of work to retirement to happen without stress and anxiety. There are going to be surprises and disappointments down the road before you settle into something more comfortable.
There will be times when you feel lonely, isolated, or a bit lost, which is normal. But do not spend your time dwelling on thoughts about the end of your career, loss of identity, and loss of social connections.
Accept that you have done all you can working for many years and focus on your next phase of life. Make peace with it and move on to your next challenge.
1. Know your retirement expenses.
A good life costs money. You do not need to be rich to have a happy life, but you still need enough money to finance your retirement lifestyle.
As I have already explained in many of my articles, you need to figure out how much you actually need to retire and live a comfortable life. Obviously, that is a different amount of funds for everyone!
If you are close to retirement, have a clear snapshot of your retirement funds and where your money is going today. It can help you take control of your spending and saving habits.
If your numbers show that you will be able to cover living expenses and have enough left over to live a comfortable life, then you are on the right path. But if you have a significant shortage of funds you will need to cut your spending, save more, or even work for a few extra years.
2. Simplify your finances.
Many people use retirement as a time to make their life simpler. Smaller homes, fewer cars, and less stuff.
How to simplify your finances?
- Consolidate bank accounts. Close multiple savings and checking accounts and consolidate them in one bank account. With fewer accounts to track, you will have less hassle remembering logins, websites, and spreadsheets.
- Consolidate retirement accounts. Roll over multiple 401(k) accounts to a single IRA.
- Get rid of paperwork and pay your bills automatically. Easy to track your payments. And you will reduce the stress of money management and make it less complicated.
- Reduce the number of credit cards. Cut back to just one credit card.
3. New life on a fixed income.
In retirement, you will transition to living on a fixed income. Your salary will stop coming and your income stream will change.
But you have saved and invested your money preparing yourself for a new life on a fixed income. Your new income will come from the combination of Social Security, a pension, retirement accounts – 401(k), IRA, Roth IRAs, and investment accounts. This is what you have worked so hard for all these years.
1. Develop a routine.
We all need structure in life and our job helped create that structure for many years. When we stop working the structure is gone.
What happens when you retire? It is Monday morning, but you do not need to go anywhere. There is nothing planned. There is no alarm clock and no morning rush.
The first few days or weeks will be exciting. You can sleep late, read in bed, or catch up on your favorite Netflix shows. But I am sure that by the end of the week or month, you will start feeling bored, isolated, and maybe a bit depressed. The fun is gone, and you will be glad to go back to something more meaningful in your life.
That is why you need to develop a routine and create a “new normal”. Some people love to have a daily routine, while others cannot bear to have everything predictable. But without proper planning and developing daily activities to get you up every morning, your retirement life will be dull.
2. Find hobbies and interests to fill your days.
I believe that everyone had some interests in life before they were forced to put it on the shelf during their working years.
All those things we regret not having time to do during our working years can act as an inspiration when we transition to retirement. It can be sports and travel. It can be learning something new – a new language or instrument. Also, it can be starting an art project or home remodeling.
Many pre-retirees are afraid to be bored in retirement, and I can relate to that feeling. Most of us spend our lives dedicated to responsibilities. We often forget how to live outside of our comfort zone.
If you are getting ready to retire, think about how to structure your days. Plan to allow yourself to try something new and even uncomfortable like going back to school or learning how to paint.
Here is a list of ideas:
- Learn how to sail.
- Start (or join) a book club.
- Learn how to paint.
- Take a pottery class (a photography class).
- Take a cooking or baking class.
- Write a poem.
- Write an e-book and publish it.
- Learn new digital skills – open an Instagram or Twitter account.
3. Keep in touch with your friends from work.
Losing your network of co-workers and office friends can be hard. Eventually, life in the office will go on without you.
Even though you are retired, it does not mean you have to lose contact with the group of your office friends completely. A simple email, text message, or phone call can lead to regular catch-up meetings with your friends from work.
Also, you can make arrangements for lunch or dinner dates once a month to stay in touch with your ex-colleagues. Most workplace friends will be happy to catch up with an old friend they have not seen for a while.
Once you retire, it is easy to become involved in other activities outside of the workplace. But keeping workplace friendships alive during retirement can help you mentally adjust to life without work.
4. Expand your horizons.
Travel is often high on the bucket list for retirees.
Many people (including myself) look at retirement as the best time of their lives, a time for adventure and travel. I believe that one of the biggest benefits of retirement is the freedom to explore the world and expand your horizons.
Do you have a retirement bucket list?
I have found it useful to create my retirement bucket list. That is a list of things I want to do and see in our local area and other countries.
I like to keep my bucket list updated with the name of new places I learned and the dates we want to travel there. Most of the time, Roman and I feel excited when discussing our travel plans and the places we want to visit.
A few ideas from my retirement bucket list:
- Live in France for a year and learn French language
- Go on a road trip through Sicily
- Take cooking classes in Spain and learn how to cook paella.
- Write an e-book.
- Visit Brazil during the carnival and learn how to dance salsa.
- Take a European river cruise
- Grow a vegetable garden.
- Design and build a lake house.
- Go on a Safari in Africa
- Visit Tahiti
5. Spend time with people you love.
Retirement can be a challenging time for relationships. When you stop working you will leave most of your friends at work behind.
Unfortunately, many will disappear from your everyday life the day you leave. It will take a lot of effort from both sides to keep friendship, once the common purpose of work is gone.
Growing older could be lonely unless you have support, love, and even friendship from your family. Do you have a good relationship with your spouse? Are you close to your children and their families? Do you spend enough time with your grandchildren?
Offer to go to the game or concert with your kids and grandkids. Consider a family vacation together. Spend all the holidays and other celebration times together.
Do you stay connected with other parts of your family like your brothers or sisters? Do you keep in touch with them regularly if they live far away? What effort do you make to stay in touch with them?
Unfortunately, many of us spend more time on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to stay informed and connected with former classmates or colleagues because they post often rather than spend time with people who are important to us.
I read that one of the greatest regrets of people who are getting closer to the end of their lives is that they didn’t spend enough time with their loved ones.
Life is short! Make sure that you spend enough time with the most important people in your life.
Most of us look forward to retirement as a time to relax and enjoy our golden years. Finally, we can do whatever we want and when we want.
But the transition from work to retirement comes with its own challenges. Many people will learn how to adjust to retirement life in different ways. Everyone’s path will be unique. But you will know how to deal with challenges if you are prepared.
Following the practical tips above will help you transition to retirement better so you can feel happy during your new phase of life.
Helpful articles you might want to read:
- 5 Reasons You Should Have a Retirement Bucket List
- How Much a Nest Egg Is Enough to Retire Comfortably?
- 8 Ways to Get Your Finances Under Control
- How to Organize Your Time in Retirement
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