Retirement! You did it! You put in your time at your job! You were ready! Or were you? Why do you feel this retirement disenchantment? You just started this retirement journey; will the entire journey be like this?
For most of our working lives, we have heard about retirement planning. Saving, investing, planning, finances, money, 401K, Roth, and pension are a few of the terms you may have heard. So we went to the retirement seminars and maybe enlisted the help of a financial planner. And we were ready! All those years we prepared for retirement by saving and investing our money. But nobody mentioned how we would fill 24 hours a day.
Retirement Honeymoon Phase
We went through the actual retirement, either quietly with no fuss, or with a big celebration. Next, we got through a honeymoon phase. In the honeymoon phase, we finally had time to do the things we have been dreaming about for years, like working on hobbies, taking a big trip, visiting with friends and family, etc. Don’t forget though what Benjamin Franklin said, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days”. Oops, maybe it isn’t a good idea for me to plan on staying with each of the kids for several weeks!
The ‘honeymoon’ list wasn’t as long, or affordable, as you thought and you still have those 24 hours a day to fill. Now the disenchantment might set in. You may be asking yourself, is this it? Is this all there is to my retirement? Maybe due to constraints such as money (seems like there is never as much as we would like), location (I am here and my family is way over there), health (my body just won’t do what it used to do), etc., you are left feeling a lack of purpose, baffled or disenchanted.
Don’t worry! Disenchantment is a normal stage of retirement! You may feel a sense of loss because you don’t interact with the people from work anymore. You may feel disoriented with the big change in your schedule. You may feel a lack of emotional stability that the job provided. It is okay! Most of us have been in the workplace for 40 years or more. Retirement, even as much as we look forward to it, is a big change.
When we were children and young adults in school, our life schedule was determined by our school terms. When we were working, our life schedule was determined by our jobs. Our life revolved around whatever our school or work schedule was. Now, we get to determine our life schedule and for most of us, that is a new, and maybe scary, concept.
You’ve made it through the childhood and school portion of your life, You’ve made it through the working and career portion of your life. You will make it through this disenchantment stage of your retirement. As Shakespeare said in The Merry Wives of Windsor, “the world is your oyster”! Let’s move beyond the disenchantment and enjoy the world!
We need to think of all the activities that we ever wanted to do or try. Will those fit into your retirement?
I personally don’t think I am up for the week-long bicycle ride, camping, along the way, but I can take a day-long bike ride! A couple of years ago, Poppy (husband) and I rode our bicycles (18 miles round-trip) from Mammoth Cave National Park Visitor Center along the Mammoth Care Railroad Bike & Hike Trail to the town of Park City (Kentucky). We took a picnic lunch, enjoyed the trail, and the town of Park City, which has a very nice park, by the way. We never did anything like this while working and raising the family. But I have found bicycling does not hurt my knees, it is an activity that does not cost a lot of money, and will fit into my retirement as long as I am able to do it.
What kinds of activities are you interested in? Writing, volunteering, taking classes, kayaking, cake decorating, building a boat, traveling, etc.? While you are brainstorming these ideas, don’t compare your retirement to that of your friends or family. We are all different, we like different activities, and we value different things. You may not have any desire to ride a bicycle all day as we did (we did get big, fat, padded seats). Maybe you were made for volunteering. Maybe hosting a book club is your thing. Maybe part-time work is what you need. There are so many activities to try!
This Retirement Disenchantment, It Too Shall Pass
Not everyone experiences the disenchantment stage of retirement. But if you are, or do, know that it will be a temporary time. Realize you are in a new portion of your life and have moved beyond the child and school portion, and beyond the job and career portion. Make lists and goals of new activities to try. You will move beyond disenchantment and enjoy the world!
“Retirement’s the most wonderful thing. I get to enjoy all the things I never stopped to notice on the way up. After an extraordinary life, it’s time to enjoy my retirement.” Patrick Macnee
Let’s do it!