Why retirement is rated as one of the top 10 most stressful life events

When you are contemplating retirement, it is recommended that you place a greater emphasis on ‘be-ing’. Ask yourself the question –

When you are contemplating retirement, it is recommended that you place a greater emphasis on ‘be-ing’.

Ask yourself the question – “If I had my time over at the start of my career and education, what would I do differently (or what would I continue to do)?”

Retirement sounds like fun, doesn’t it? It can be.

But it also involves a major change in your life, and therefore represents a stressful transition. On the “life events scale” used by psychologists to determine stress levels, retirement is rated in the 10 most stressful events you can experience – behind the death of a spouse, divorce or a gaol term, but ahead of the addition of a new family member, the death of a close friend or foreclosure on your home.

In addition, other stressful events may occur at about the same time.

Your spouse may also be retiring, or there may have been a change in your health. Or perhaps you’re moving. All these events add to your stress levels. The way to cope is to anticipate what will happen, make some plans and then don’t harbor any regrets for what you’ve left behind.

Here’s how to look ahead to the opportunities in front of you.

It’s a big change. First of all, accept the fact that you are making a big move. It’s normal to feel a little apprehensive as you start a new phase of life, so don’t beat yourself up about it. You are no longer on the clock. You are free to do what you want. There are no more meetings, sales calls or work-related travel. So remind yourself that, once you get settled, the lifestyle you are about to embrace should be easier and less stressful than your work life, and is often more personally fulfilling.

There’s a lot of excitement.

Retirement is something most of us have been looking forward to for years. We’ve been anticipating the road ahead and are about to embark on a journey that is entirely of our own making. The opportunities are endless and perhaps a bit daunting. There is no more commute, schedule or limits at all, except the ones you put on yourself. Excitement adds to stress. But just remember, you’re not throwing out the entire script of your life, just turning the page to a new chapter. Yes, it’s a big change, but you’re still grounded in your family, friends and your own self-identity.

With that said envision your transition into retirement less as the encore, but rather as the next phase of your lifetime journey. After working hard over a few decades, most workers could be forgiven for starting to dream about all the things they would love to do when they retire.

Travel, play more golf, spend time with the grandchildren or dedicate their time to outside work interests could be on the list. At first, this may all sound like nirvana, but many know in their heart that they would be bored after the first six months.

It is important to start these activities prior to retirement. Psychologists refer to something called ‘Discontinuity Theory’. This basically means that if you’re not doing something prior to retirement, then it’s unlikely you will commence it when entering retirement. So if you intend to play golf regularly in retirement, it’s important to start playing the game well before your retirement date to make sure you enjoy it.

What has your retirement been like?

The information contained in this document is general in nature and may not be relevant to your individual circumstances. You should refrain from doing anything in reliance on this information without first obtaining suitable professional advice. The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author; they are not reflective or indicative of Millennium3 Financial Service’s position, and are not to be attributed to Millennium3. They cannot be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of the author.

  1. My husband retired at 65 and loved it for 6 months. After 12 months he went back to work. He is still working full time but by June hopes to be working part time from home. This would be ideal for him.

  2. I planned my retirement carefully, have been retired for over 2 years. I doubled retirement with a shift from country to the city. My main reason for doing that was to get I lived in a range of activities that were not available in country. I had been travelling to the city regularly for theatre and watching the crows but did not want to commit to that in my retirement years. I transferred Zonta clubs, an organisation I love, joined a community to teach English to refugees and asylum seekers and although I brought my golf clubs with me I have not yet joined a club. I will turn 65 soon and am looking forward to many more rewarding years of retirement including travel.

  3. My life started once I retired. I am now doing all the things I ever wanted to do. Husband will retire in about a year or 2 – I think he will find it harder to adjust. This article I found surprising as when I worked I did do all the hobby things and volunteering, but now just do more of them.

  4. marilyn willson  

    This article is true, and hopefully will make a difference to some one, but for me its like shutting th egate after the horse has bolted.

  5. Retirement was going great from 57 to 60 until my better half decided to give up her volunteer job — I said don’t depend on me for entertainment dearest — both 65 this year and the dream continues !!!

  6. We have been retired for over 20yrs & enjoyed every day, thanks to our health, it’s been great to do what we want, when we want.

  7. We’re into our seventh year of retirement and we haven’t regretted a minute.
    There’s lots we do together and with our family and of course those things are always the priority. But it’s also important to have separate interests.
    In our case, my wife is passionate about her Pilates gym and associated social group – she loves it. I’m very happy to have linked in with our local men’s shed four years ago. That keeps me in contact with other men and as a bonus, we engage with the community, undertaking ad hoc projects.

    The Australian Mens Shed Association motto is “Men talk shoulder to shoulder”

  8. Thank you to the Starts at 60 team for allowing me to share my knowledge and insights into retirement planning. I look forward to adding more value to your community.

  9. Give it a go, If you plan too much you are bound to disappointed 🙂

    • and when you have retirement forced upon you, you spend the first 2 years still in shock. It’s just past 2 years for him and in May will be 2 years for me. I think we are just out of shock now as he says isn’t it great to have our days to ourselves. (minus the days we do voluntaries and the days we have grandies)

  10. Retirement is great if you have someone to share it with and money and/ or a good pension to fund all the things you would like to do. Otherwise, it isn’t . I keep busy but am fed up of all the public service pensioners telling me about their travels etc that my taxes paid for. We are not all the ” baby boomers ” that the media tell us about.

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