“I never thought it would be so difficult!”
“How can something I’ve looked forward to for so many years be such a disappointment?”
Those are common sentiments expressed in the coaching conversations I have with people who have recently retired. The ‘it’ or ‘something’ being referred to is their retirement, and they are perplexed as to why, what they anticipated would be a happy and relaxing time in their lives, is actually stressful.
The reason often comes down to the individual not having replaced the five functions or benefits of work:
- Financial Stability
- Time Management
- Social Connection
- Sense of Purpose
Work provides us with many benefits that meet our basic human needs, not the least of which is a pay cheque so we can eat and have a place to live. Even if you have a financial plan, (and the majority of Canadians do not), adjusting to your life in retirement can be challenging. How will you pay your bills when you retire? Are you confident you will have enough money to last your lifetime?
Work also meets other needs like giving us structure to our day. We know when and where we have to be. We can manage our time accordingly. How will you fill 16 hours a day, every day?
Work provides us with a sense of personal identity, a title to hang our hat on. We know how we fit into the world. How will you answer the perpetual question of ‘what do you do?’ when you no longer do it? Who are you without a title?
How will you answer the question of ‘what do you do?’ when you no longer do it?
Work gives us opportunities to form relationships and connect with others. While some of our work friendships may stand the test of time, many are based on a common purpose – working for the same organization – and will flounder unless you share other things in common. When you’re retired, who will you share your stories with? If you are one of those people whose life is their work, you may struggle to make connections with others once you retire.
And probably most importantly, work gives us a sense of purpose. Without purpose we humans fail to thrive. We are happiest when we have a reason to get up in the morning and a way to contribute to something that is greater than ourselves. When we are being paid to provide a service or product for others, we derive a sense of worth from it. We know that we are useful and that others benefit from us being around. It gives our life meaning. What will provide that sense of meaning for you once you retire?
Your workplace is like a one-stop shop that provides for all of these needs. How will you replace it? Figuring that out is the key to having a meaningful and satisfying retirement.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can replace the five functions of work and make a smooth transition to your ideal retirement, join us for a free information seminar: Are You Ready to Retire? on November 8 in Kelowna, BC.