As you approach retirement age, you may start imagining that last day at work before retirement. What will it feel like? What will you do next?
In your dreams, your last day of work might involve good food, a decorated cake, balloons, maybe even farewell and thank you gifts as you say ‘goodbye’ to your co-workers, personally. Your last day at work should be a meaningful event deserving of a celebratory day. But the truth is the majority of Canadians don’t know very far in advance when their last day of work will be. This can lead to retirement shock, a phenomenon experienced more often by those who unexpectedly retire early.
Why Do So Many Canadians End Up Retiring Early?
While many people may have a date (or a year) in mind for when they would like to retire, most people are faced with dates that are earlier than they expected. The most common reasons for Canadians retiring earlier are:
Health Reasons: Many individuals underestimate how long they will physically be able to do their jobs and are forced to retire sooner than planned.
Family Matters: Some people find themselves retiring early to take care of a sick family member or to help look after grandchildren.
Employer Decision: For many others, early retirement happens as the result of company layoffs, restructuring, or technology replacing the workforce.
The Unexpected Shock of Retirement
Whether you’ve carefully planned out your retirement day or it has come as a complete surprise, the transition into retirement life can be a powerful shock to the system. Many people are unprepared for the dramatic life shifts that come with retirement living.
After decades of working, the main occupation of your hours and one of your main purposes in life is suddenly gone. Many retirees also find themselves isolated. Their social circle from work disappears, and friends and family are too busy to visit.
Another aspect of retirement shock is financial uncertainty. Many retirees worry about whether their fixed income is enough to live on and whether they’ve saved enough for their remaining years. This is especially true of those who have retired early unexpectedly.
When you compound a lack of purpose, shrinking social connections, and anxiety over finances, retirement suddenly looks a lot less heavenly than many imagine it to be.
5 Ways to Overcome Retirement Shock
The silver lining is that you’re not alone, and there are healthy ways you can avoid or overcome retirement shock. Below are five ways you can find your purpose, connect with the people who matter, and reduce your financial anxiety.
Move Your Body
Exercise is one of the quickest, easiest, and cheapest mood-lifters. You don’t need to train for a marathon; you just need to move your body. It can be as simple as walking around your neighbourhood on your own, with your pet, or with friends. If you’re stuck indoors or have limited mobility, your exercise could include dancing, light yoga, stretching, or anything that gets your blood flowing.
Self-Care and Self-Awareness
It’s time to make time for yourself. You have the freedom to read more books, finish that sewing project, or plant that garden. Spend some time doing something you love without feeling guilty. Also, be aware of your feelings. Talk about any concerns or feelings that come up with friends, family, or a health professional. It’s completely normal to feel ups and downs during retirement, especially in the first few years.
Talk to a Financial Advisor
Put your mind at ease by talking with an experienced financial advisor about your money. The sooner you do this before retirement, the better. However, there are also methods we can use to make the most of your finances if retirement occurs unexpectedly. For example, we can look at whether or not it makes sense to withdraw pensions and invest them. We can also provide advice about how to make the best of tax obligations and draft a budget that fits your financial situation.
Give yourself some structure in your daily life, even if that means getting up at a certain time and getting dressed and ready for the day. Develop a routine that keeps you occupied and entertained. Some people love to make checklists, so they mark their achievements each day. Other people enjoy journaling. Find the things that make you feel happy and motivated and incorporate some of them into your day, every day.
Retirement can feel isolating. Suddenly you have a lot of free time available, while your old co-workers, friends, and neighbours may not. This is an ideal time to find and develop new friendships. Many retirees seek casual employment or volunteer positions to stay connected to a larger purpose and for the opportunities to socialize. If you miss interacting with lots of people, consider reaching out to community organizations to see how you can help.
Your Retirement Financial Experts in Edmonton, Alberta
At Regan Schiller & Associates, we specialize in helping retirees with retirement income planning and wealth management. If you feel stressed about your retirement finances, make an appointment with our team, and we’ll be happy to hear your concerns and questions. Retirement should be an exciting time in your life that feels great! We’re here to help you plan for the lifestyle you want.
Written and published by Regan Schiller & Associates as a general source of information only. Not intended as a solicitation to buy or sell specific investments, or to provide tax, legal or investment advice. Seek advice on your specific circumstances from a member of Regan Schiller & Associates.