The Challenges of Life in Retirement by Bill Storie
We are often asked to give our thoughts on how people in retirement seem to be coping with their golden years. We rely on the comments from our members and various surveys we run, and also face-to-face sessions on video or in the TV studio.
The short answer is that there is no one-size-fits-all. We are all different in our own ways. No surprise in saying that of course but sometimes we come across people who for some reason want to conform to some sort of benchmark or standard. It’s easy to tell people just to live their own lives, but the fact is that we tend to be pack animals in retirement to some extent. You may disagree certainly and if you do, well done. But the data suggests that we do seem to have some tendencies to act and think in line with the rest of the retiree crowd.
You’ve often heard the soon-to-be-retiree say something like, “When I retire I’m going to do my own thing and do as I please.”
We’ve found that the people who say that kind of stuff the loudest, are the ones who are the least likely to actually change. They seem to talk the talk and forget to walk the line. Not sure why that is, but it does seem to be true. Maybe they find that when they retire they suddenly discover that they have tons of free time and can easily cope with their duties such as driving the grandkids here, there and everywhere, so that when the car is parked for the night they still have the time to put on their dancing shoes and go clubbing. Well something like that – you get the idea.
I really do wonder how many of us actually do what we said we were going to do when we retired.
Circumstances change. Priorities get mixed up. Throw in a little bit of “can’t be bothered” and before long we’re back in that rut again. “Retirement isn’t what I thought it would be.”
I also think that when we are in company, especially with colleagues from our pre-retirement workplace, that, when asked, “So, how’s retirement working out for you?” … we say “Fabulous. Wish I’d done it years ago.” Then we go home and stare at four walls and can’t even be tempted to switch on the television. Similar to the idea of going on vacation is typically much more exciting than the vacation itself.
There’s no harm in realizing, or even admitting that this retirement gig is fine as far as it goes, but that the predictions that it would be like living in paradise are much less attractive now, than had been imagined. Retirement life is a challenge. Make no mistake. Whether it’s health issues or money issues or family issues or just the mere fact of getting older, it matters little. There are ups and downs, good days, bad days and so many emotional swings that being able to live the perfect retirement life is very much a matter of what the word “perfect” means to you.
Some people think that playing golf every day is perfect. Some think that travelling is perfect. Some think that running after the grandkids is perfect. You get the idea. The truth is that retirement life is very much what you make of it. If you feel you deserve to lay back and chill and do very little then so be it. If that’s the lifestyle you feel you deserve, knock your socks off. Just keep in mind however that you may be washing those socks for many, many years. Could you handle day after day of inactivity or do you think you maybe should be giving a whole bunch more thought to your Third Journey?
It’s you call obviously, but factor in ALL issues, not just financial sustainability. Money is essential but everyday lifestyle is equally important. Don’t be fooled into thinking that retirement life is a dawdle just because you afford it. Think wisely.
See you next week.
By Bill Storie