I was curious about what men in their first few years of retirement would say to other men approaching their own retirement. I also polled some retirement coaches who work with people preparing for or adjusting to the end of their formal careers. Here's some interesting thoughts on men in retirement … their own retirement.
Your choice of timing
The range here is everything from ‘take your time’ on one end to ‘go for it’ on the other. In their own words:
“Go slowly as once you remove yourself from the job market, it is more difficult to get back into the job market in your chosen career.” This quote came from someone who still takes contracts from a previous position.
“Let it be your idea, your choice if you can, not your spouse’s, your employer’s, your doctor’s. I mean listen to them but you need to call this one if you can. I know not everybody can do that but I think it best to make it your decision when you want to retire.”
“If you are already thinking about it, you are already half way out the door.”
“If you have the health and the means, why wait? Really, why not?”
“I had gone as far in my career as I wanted and retirement was a viable option for me and I’m glad I took it.”
When I asked about cautions or advice this is what I heard:
“I find that the biggest fear men express has to do with not having enough to do.”
“Find a sense of purpose. Do something meaningful. Travel and golf are OK at the start but then you want more.”
“Many retired men have marital conflict.” Note: Only about one third of couples discuss their individual views and ideas about retirement prior to one or both retiring. Be careful of assumptions and really communicate about how you see your new lives.
“We know that a sedentary retirement can mean weight gain and more chronic conditions. The biggest mistake, in terms of fitness, is trying too much too soon and getting injured or discouraged. So ease in, set your goals, be consistent and make new habits.” Note: Those who exercise and are active are happier and healthier and thus have a better quality of life.
“I’ve been a good provider, an achiever and striver and so what do I do now was a big question for me. I was afraid my self-esteem would suffer. Now I am trying to figure out who I am now and what I want to experience next. My wife Is still working and so I have some time to get my new life going.”
“I should have started succession planning way before I did.”
”I watched some of my co-workers go into retirement with this deer in the headlights thing and that is why I looked around for things to do before retiring. I’d already started working with a disaster relief organization and just did more of that at the beginning. I have branched out more since then but it was a great way to start.”
”You need a bit of a plan and need to do something that has some spirit to it. I get bored with the guys who only talk about their ailments or their golf games.”
“Lots of men have essentially deferred ‘living’ during their employment years and so find little to look forward to. They need to find activities that appeal to them and that allow for creating a new identity.”
“If you find yourself stressed or swamped in negativity, get help! It is a vicious circle and only gets worse.” Note: Watch out for anxiety, boredom, depression, lack of mental or physical stimulation, irritability, or a negative reaction to loss of status.
It's interesting that I heard nothing about finances from anyone. Although it is a big concern prior to retirement, it is just another adjustment to make after the new reality is there.
Any other words of caution or advice?