How to prepare emotionally for retirement
Don’t just worry about the money you’ll spend. How will you spend your time?
By Cailynn Klingbeil. Illustrations by Ryan Garcia.
Time for endless relaxation … right? Not so fast. Making the most of this major life change takes preparation — and not just financial. “Many times we overlook the emotional component of retirement,” says Kathleen Power, ’86 BSc(HEc), of Homewood Health, which gives workshops on the topic. “We know that people who are very intentional about how they’re going to spend their time, how they’re going to have meaning in their lives, do better in retirement than those who just kind of let it happen.”
Reflect on what matters to you. What do you value outside work? What does healthy aging look like to you? “It’s a time of really reflecting on the meaning of life,” Power says. “That preparation time is important.”
Retirement brings losses as well as gains. Work provides a sense of identity, social interaction and a place where we belong and feel productive. “We have to be more intentional about creating those opportunities to connect,” Power says.
Couples may have different expectations about retirement. “Hone your communication skills with your partner to be able to have very open and very direct conversations.”
It takes a lot of introspection to figure out how you’ll find meaning after you retire. Talk with family and friends or a counsellor for their insights, or look for community resources.