Retirement anxiety: 7 things you might miss in retirement

You may be financially ready for retirement, but are you emotionally and practically prepared?


These days you are likely to live one-third of your life in retirement, so it’s worth planning properly. It may feel like a holiday at first, but how are you going to optimise your life for long-term satisfaction and happiness?

Things you might miss in retirement

Some people adjust easily to this stage of life, but others start missing:

1. A routine

If you’re at the pre-retirement stage, you’re probably looking forward to the day when you no longer need to set your alarm. Instead, you can’t wait to awaken naturally. At first, it feels quite exciting and luxurious, but after time you may find yourself getting up later each day, until you’re out of any kind of steady routine. You’ll feel groggy at 11am and soon meal times will be all over the place. You’re turning into a night owl and you’ve no idea which day of the week it is. Living like this may feel chaotic and ultimately dissatisfying.

2. Their identity

When you’ve spent the last 40-50 years working, it can come as a shock when it’s gone. Some people define themselves by their work. No longer do you have the status of calling yourself a nurse, vet, head teacher or CEO. It’s as if all your knowledge and skills have disappeared, but they haven’t. Now your important work is being carried out by some other individual. You may be used to leading an entire team or organisation, yet now you’re just leading the cat to her food bowl.

Some may find that society starts to view them differently when they stop working. The word “retirement” conjures up all sorts of prejudices and biases in people’s minds – perhaps even your own. People’s reactions to you might alter or feel patronising. Statistics show that people’s self-worth tends to drop after retirement.

3. Their purpose

Of course, over a lifetime’s career you pick up skills, knowledge, experience and professional relationships. When you retire, you’re left with a 40-hour gap in your week which you need to fill. Whether you are an ICU doctor saving people’s lives or a cleaner creating a scrubbed and hygienic environment, you have been contributing to society all your adult life. When this ends there can feel a real sense of loss and dissatisfaction. Now what is your purpose?  

4. Their good health

For some, retirement marks the start of a decline in their health. No longer are they walking 20 minutes to and from work, striding around hospital wards or training students on the sports pitch. Rather they are pottering around their house, getting under their spouse’s feet (we’ll come on to that later) and sitting still for most of the day. They may go from walking 5000 steps a day to less than 500.

Meanwhile, they may not use their grey matter as much either, e.g. solving work problems, meeting and conversing with a range of clients or using their lifelong learned skills.

These situations can lead to a decline in one’s physical and mental health. Perhaps you noticed your own parents’ health deteriorate in their sixties or early seventies, robbing them of a long and happy retirement.

5. A social circle

For many people, their friendship group is largely made up of their work colleagues. They are used to seeing them every day and arranging to go out for lunches or weekend walks. Perhaps your best friend is your co-worker. Upon retirement, you may naturally start to move further apart and have less in common. Maybe you used to have a natter with them about the soaps on telly, but now you don’t speak to anyone much and you miss the chit-chat. Statistics show that loneliness rates increase post-retirement.

6. An uncomplicated relationship with one’s spouse

Retirement can be tough on couples. Statistics show that divorce and addiction rates climb. Stress can build up when you are together 24/7, especially if you downsize to a smaller house. As much as you appreciate your partner, you may find it annoying being around them the whole time. Will your division of chores around the house change? Have you discussed and planned this? You could start to bicker and get under each other’s feet. You have to be patient with your partner and yourself.

7. An uncomplicated relationship with one’s adult children

Retirement brings with it free time. You may have plans to use this for travel, taking up new hobbies, joining clubs or studying. Yet suddenly your adult children have an expectation that you are now their primary childcare provider. Of course, you don’t mind helping out here and there, but it doesn’t always work out that way. It seems to be all too normal to expect too much from grandparents these days. It may not be what you pictured for your later life, but how do you let your adult children know that?  

Of course, it doesn’t have to be like this. Some people adjust easily and beautifully to stopping work, but the reality is that depression increases by 40% after retirement.

Since the concept of retirement came into existence, our lifespans have doubled. So whether you are close to retirement age or already there, it’s worth planning your future life carefully and thoroughly. How will you transition? What interesting things are you going to do? How will you contribute generously? What kind of authentic relationships will you build? How will you feel accomplished? What will you do to improve your body and mind? What’s going to ignite and excite you?

A retirement coach is trained to help you transition to an optimal senior life. So let’s pay attention and improve our well-being in retirement by investing in ourselves and thriving. There is no reason why these can’t be the best years of your life and it’s never too late to start the conversation.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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