Am I Ready?

Retirement is just 17 days away now.

We have been planning for this moment for a long time. There are other perspectives about the retirement years and it does not look like it’s all Walt Disney World.

Some of them make for fun reading.

Chuck Underwood, founder of consulting firm The Generational Imperative in Ohio, said what’s not to like: “Most retirees badly underestimate the severity of the impact of awakening each day without a major purpose. Retirees who feel grandparenthood, volunteerism, travel, and just ‘relaxing’ will fill the purpose void consistently learn this hard lesson: for decades, their jobs have guided their entire lives, claimed the most vital eight hours of their weekdays, and been the source of most of their thinking. For decades.”

So what happens when the purpose provided by work is gone. Said Underwood, “The thought that fills the void is, ‘My life has lost its greatest purpose, I am aging, and I’m on final descent toward death.'”

Some retirees plummet into depression. Many develop opioid habits. Others drink too much booze. That’s not what any of them had in mind as they contemplated an end of work. But those grim realities are indeed all too real for many.

Yikes.

And this.

It’s one thing to be financially prepared for retirement, but don’t discount the mental upheaval that might ensue once you leave your career behind you. Though many seniors look forward to the downtime they’ve been missing during their working years, you may come to find that your newly unstructured existence throws you for an emotional loop. In fact, according to the Institute of Economic Affairs, retirees are 40% more likely to suffer from clinical depression than younger Americans are, and a big reason has to do with that loss of purpose, so to speak, in life.

And this.

Retirement is a huge lifestyle change. For many of us, work is a big part of our lives and identity. It is important to think through how you will spend your free time and what your aspirations are. I suspect many people postpone retirement because they have not taken the time to think through this important transition in their lives. As such, they continue to work as it is what they are comfortable with and all that they have ever known.

It goes on of course. If you follow this line of reasoning, you would never retire. Too scary.

I have a sense that governments, anxious to keep people paying higher levels of taxes as long as possible, attempt to create a narrative that, in effect, says that it is better for people to work longer, much longer, than the traditional retirement age of 65.

This despite the Statscan data showing very little movement in public sector retirements. The average age has remained at just over 61 for the past five years for public sector employees whereas private sector employees tend to retire on average closer to 64.

For the record, I will be 61.8 years old at retirement. I’m able to retire a bit earlier than the average private sector employee thanks to defined benefit pensions and a decent investment portfolio.

I have thought about the social, emotional, physical and financial aspects of retirement. Being a goal-oriented person, I have certainly put a lot of thought and effort into each one of these areas throughout my life.

I’m looking forward to a wonderful stage of life in retirement with Lorraine.

The starting gate is just around the corner.

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