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  • Nancy Webb

Why do I Fear Retirement?

Updated: Oct 10, 2022

Why do I Fear Retirement?

The fear of retirement is a serious problem for many of us, and not always because of money concerns. We have an intolerance for uncertainty, which results in anxiety and avoidance. Consequently, plans for retirement are often ignored or delayed.

Let’s shine the light on those Fears and learn how they can be defeated!

Fear of Boredom

· We have been working the majority of our lives, and we are worried we will be bored. We identify ourselves by what we “do.” The demands of our careers along with our families - left little time for developing outside interests or hobbies.

· The Fix? Add this to your “To Do” list. Explore the interests you had when you were younger. Did you want to play in a rock-n-roll band? Take up or teach Guitar. Interested in learning to play golf? Head to the closest course for lessons from a Golf Pro. Do you want to travel? Start a notebook/journal/Pinterest Board of the places you want to explore. I am a big magazine reader – so I cut out pictures and paste them into my “Things to Do in Retirement” Book. I have an entire section on Swimming Holes in Texas I plan to visit, and a section on road trips.

Fear of Loneliness

· As featured in a 2022 article in Psychology Today – Living alone is a modern phenomenon. For most of history, very few people lived alone. In the U.S., even as recently as 1960, only 7 million people lived alone; they accounted for just 13% of all households. By 2020, more than five times as many Americans were living alone, 36.2 million. Of course, the entire population was growing, but even as a proportion of all households, the rate of living alone had more than doubled to 28%. Now, if you were to knock on any door at random in the U.S., you would be more likely to find a person living alone than a nuclear household of mom, dad, and kids.

· No one likes to feel lonely, but often it is part of life. A short-term spell of loneliness can result from the end of a relationship, or from a night at home alone. However, if you constantly live in fear of loneliness and go to extraordinary lengths to avoid it, you may benefit from examining and then facing your fears.

Fear of Losing a Sense of Purpose

· Many retirees report feeling lost and purposeless shortly after they leave work. Without the purpose that work brings, they begin to wonder who they are, and what they should do. Even high-pressure jobs can provide a sense of purpose. They have built fulfilling relationships with coworkers and clients. So, when some retirees leave their careers, they leave behind helping others and accomplishing goals.

· I am not saying – “Don’t Retire.” However, if you don’t know what you are going to do with your time when you do retire – consider these options.

o You could continue working. If you love your job, don’t let the pressure of living a leisurely life force you out of something you love.

o You could work part-time. Depending on your profession, you could work as a consultant or mentor in your field. That way, you can feel the impact you’ve enjoyed and have more time for the other things in life that you love.

o Consider Volunteering. Studies show that volunteering can help reduce cognitive decline and foster well-being as we age.

Fear of Getting/Looking Older

· Let’s face it – our society is obsessed with youth. As we are approaching retirement – it is hard to accept that we are now viewed as The Golden Girls.

· I do the best I can to look good, stay fit, get a good night’s sleep, and eat a good diet. However, if you give up living a healthy lifestyle, you will succumb to the degenerative effects of aging at a much faster pace.

Fear of Cognitive Decline

· We all have brain fog now and then. However, as we get older and get forgetful more frequently, it is scary.

· It is not inevitable that our cognitive function will decline. Research shows that our brains can grow in capacity and efficiency as long as we continue to stimulate them. Memory exercises or games are an important part of your self-care.

Fear of Losing Independence

· The fear and anxiety of losing independence and having to depend upon other people to take care of me is probably my biggest fear.

· What will I do? I am going to prepare ahead of time for how I want to live when that time comes. Of course, I am going to do what I can to keep healthy, but when the inevitable happens and I have to depend on others for care – I am going to try to have as much control as possible. I do live in a community that has lots of services for aging in place, so I can take that off my list. I am also going to visit assisted living and nursing facilities near me – so that I will know where I end up – when that time comes.

Fear of Being with your Partner 24 Hours a Day

· There is nothing wrong with you if you dread being with them 24 hours a day. Women, in particular, worry about this more than men – as we are usually the caregivers in our relationships.

· When it is time for you and your partner to decide on retirement plans, such as when to retire, where to live, or travel, a win-win solution is much better than a compromise. Compromise will leave you feeling like you have given up something which in turn will cause resentment.

Fear of Not Leaving a Legacy

· A lot of us think money is our legacy. Yes, it would be nice to leave a big inheritance, but the way you lived your life is more important. Whatever makes you unique is your legacy. That is what you will be remembered for.

· If you don’t like the legacy you are leaving – then start making changes to improve it.

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