Embracing Retirement: Navigating the Psychological Transition

May 15, 2024

Retirement marks a significant life transition, a new chapter filled with opportunities for growth, exploration, and fulfillment. Perhaps you’ve dreamed of traveling the country in a camper van (or maybe that’s just me) or spending more time in your garden. However, this shift from the structured routine of work to a more leisurely pace can sometimes bring about unexpected psychological challenges, which should not be ignored. While it is easy to focus on “the numbers” for retirement, we make it a point in our retirement planning process to spend time on the psychological challenges of retirement. If you are married and heading into retirement, we often joke with couples that suddenly you are going to be spending a lot of time together, are you prepared for that?! While we usually laugh about it, it is just one of many adjustments, both financially and psychologically, that need to be considered.


The below chart from JPMorgan illustrates life expectancies for those currently Age 65. It’s easy to see that those entering retirement may spend up to one-third of their lives in retirement! In this post, we’ll explore the emotional side of retirement and discuss strategies for navigating this exciting yet complex phase of life.


1. Acknowledging the Transition

Retirement represents a major life transition that can cause a range of emotions, from excitement and anticipation to uncertainty and even a sense of loss. It’s important to acknowledge these feelings as a natural part of the transition process. By recognizing and accepting the emotions associated with retirement, individuals can better navigate this period of adjustment.


During the final meeting in our initial financial planning process, which we call the Enlighten meeting, we ask two questions, “What transition are you most looking forward to?” and “What transition are you most concerned about?”. You would be surprised at the number of times people say “retirement” to both of those questions. Take some time for self-reflection and ask yourself those same two questions, then discuss your thoughts with your significant other, close friend, or even your financial planner.


2. Finding Purpose and Meaning

One of the key psychological aspects of retirement is the search for purpose and meaning in this new phase of life. Many retirees find fulfillment by pursuing hobbies, volunteering, or engaging in activities that align with their passions and values. By exploring new interests and avenues for personal growth, retirees can discover a sense of purpose that adds depth and richness to their retirement years.


For many retirees, a significant aspect of the psychological transition involves grappling with changes in identity. For many people, they spent decades in their career and whether purposely or not, they may find their identity defined by their career, and retirement can feel like it is taking away that identity and suddenly you are left wondering “who am I now?” It is important before retirement to sit down and write out the list of benefits your current career gives you…besides money. For example, maybe most of your social connections come through work, so thinking through how to maintain those connections once you no longer head to the office every day is crucial. Maybe you appreciate the cognitive challenge of your job, how is that need going to be met in retirement? A great book on this topic is called Halftime: Moving from Success to Significance by Bob Buford. It can help you answer the question “What do you want to do with the rest of your life” after all, as JPMorgan’s chart above illustrates, retirement isn’t a short phase of life you pass through.


3. Embracing Growth and Exploration

Free from the constraints of the nine-to-five grind, retirement offers the opportunity for personal growth and exploration. By embracing curiosity and a spirit of adventure, retirees can embark on new experiences, learn new skills, and broaden their horizons. From travel adventures to educational pursuits, the retirement years can be a time of continued growth and self-discovery.


Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to change, adapt to new information, and offset the side affects of aging. While the adage “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is often tossed around as people age, neuroplasticity suggests otherwise. Perhaps retirement can finally give you that opportunity to learn to play guitar or learn a new language in anticipation of a bucket list trip.


A side benefit to embracing growth is that exploring new hobbies or investing in existing ones could allow you to replace some social connections that are lost when you retire from your job. Cultivating and maintaining social connections during retirement are crucial for a successful retirement and challenging yourself to learn new things can expose you to new social groups or communities. Another helpful tool we use with clients is the Ideal Week in Retirement exercise. Completing this tool can help you face the reality that you cannot possibly fill all 112 waking hours of your week with just one single interest.


Thriving in Retirement

Navigating the psychological aspects of retirement requires self-awareness, resilience, and a willingness to embrace change. While it is fun to dream of retirement days spent in a campervan traveling the country, make sure you do not neglect the psychological aspects of retirement. At Stewardship Advisors, we understand the complexities of retirement and are here to support you in crafting a retirement plan that prioritizes not just your financial security, but also your emotional well-being and fulfillment. Our goal is to make sure you are not just retiring from something, but to something meaningful. As I’ve often said to clients, this might be your first time retiring, but it’s not our first time helping people retire, so let us be your guide to a long and fulfilling retirement journey.


Schedule an introductory phone call with Mark at this link: Mark Brinser – Introductory Phone Call

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Mark Brinser
mbrinser@MyStewardshipAdvisor.com ‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎ ‏‏‎ ‎‎‏‏‎ ‎‏‏‎T: 717.492.4787 F: 717.283.4049