The Biggest Fears of Retiring

For many people, the prospect of retirement fills them with dread; “30 years, what am I supposed to do with that?

I’ve found from conversations with people entering retirement this fear tends to be for one of 4 reasons:

  1. Loss of identity – you’ve had a long and successful career and enjoy the status and profile that comes with that. Whether it is a senior member of a larger organisation or a business owner, once you retire, you fear that you’ll just be a “somebody”.
  2. Boredom – you’ve lived and worked to a routine and structure for the last 30 to 40 years and now the prospect of an empty calendar to fill scares you.
  3. Not having enough money – you’ve enjoyed a regular paycheck and one that was sizeable but once that stops you aren’t sure a) how to replace it and b) whether you will have enough to see you through the rest of your life.
  4. Relationship Strains – everything was rosy in the relationship when you were both busy working and raising a family but now the children have left you are worried that with more time might come more opportunities to get under one another’s feet and create tension.

Loss of identity

Retirement is a whole new chapter and does require preparation. It’s not dissimilar to going through adolescence again; there is a physical, emotional and psychological change to negotiate but it doesn’t mean it can’t be a time of opportunity rather than regret.

I believe there are 5 secrets to a successful retirement all of which require the right mindset going into it. Take, your status, if you define yourself by what you do (did), it will be harder to accept that in retirement you may get lumped together in a homogenous group known as ‘the retired’. However, if you are able to take the ego out of your definition and define yourself by who you are rather than your job title, the status change need not leave you psychologically scarred.


Tied into this is how you occupy yourself. Retirement is a time for re-creation as much as it is recreation; a life of golf my sound blissful when you are busy doing the day job but when you can do it every day the novelty is likely to wear off (“when you have a jar full of cookies, where’s the fun in cookies?”).

Living a purposeful life that is fulfilling is one of the 5 secrets to a successful retirement for that very reason. I am told that a great-grandfather of mine had a mantra that you should go to bed knowing exactly what you are going to do the next day.  It should also be something you are enthusiastic about, if you have spent a career fighting with the morning alarm clock you don’t want to be doing the same in retirement. If you are short on ideas, here are 101 things you could do.

Not having enough money

The effect of a loss of earnings will really depend upon how well you planned for your retirement during your career. It might be that you had a savings mentality and have enough but just don’t know how to structure it efficiently or effectively. Or, it might be that you’ve let retirement planning slip away from you and haven’t got much to live off when you stop working.

If it is the former, it might be that all you need is a bit of clarity and understanding to allay any fears. If it is the latter you will probably need to take some action now to secure your financial independence just in case the age at which you retire is taken out of your hands.

Relationship Strains

When it comes to maintaining a strong and loving relationship, I can’t say I have all the answers but speaking with retired couples who have either managed to maintain that loving feeling or lost it, it appears one secret is to ensure you have time apart to do your own thing as much as you have time together. I’m told respecting one another’s space is as important as sharing experiences.

If you want help planning your retirement so that you are making the most of your money and life, get in touch.


Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

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