Retiring is a huge step in a person’s life. It is a goal many people work for and look forward to their whole adult lives, but the transition can be very stressful. This is especially true for someone that is used to getting their feeling of purpose and their social contact primarily through their job. Work is a place where we spend the majority of our time. No matter how ready we feel, we can’t leave it without some feelings of sadness mixed with the happiness and relief from responsibility.
Even if you have raised a family and have a spouse at home, the home situation that existed when you were working will no doubt be different during retirement. Most retiring people have grown children that they may or may not see very often. Spouses are used to having a lot of time apart. Even though you may have wanted more time with your spouse, too much time together can bring unexpected strain into your relationship.
You are probably correct in thinking that you will miss the male social contact you had on your job and some of those friendships are likely to fall away. Those friendships were an easy part of your day-to-day life and often work was the biggest thing you had in common with those friends. Keeping friendships with the guys that are still working takes effort and intention on your part and those friendships are less likely to last unless you also have other things in common. Be prepared that you may need to do most of the initiating in the beginning. Post- work friendships can be a big help in easing the emotional aspect of the transition.
There is also the issue of what to do with your time. This is a big one. Many hard-working people had to let other interests drop as their work lives became more and more demanding. To move forward successfully you will need to re-engage with past hobbies and interests or find new ones.
People also have trouble shifting their mindset from getting a regular paycheck and saving for retirement to actually being retired and feeling OK about spending money they have worked so hard to save. A good financial planner can be a trusted resource to help you manage your financial situation in retirement.
A few tips for the newly retired: It is important not to let yourself get too socially isolated. Be careful not to place all of your social needs onto your spouse. Physical activity, time out of the house, and joining one or two groups—perhaps even volunteering for an organization you believe in—all of these activities will help you in the transition. Without the built-in structure of working for an organization, you will need to develop skills in creating your own structure. A blend of scheduled activities and unscheduled free time is usually better than having only free time on your hands. Some people even opt to continue working part-time to ease the transition. Give yourself a year or two to become comfortable with your new status as a retired person. It’s not going to happen overnight, but retirement can be a wonderful time of freedom and self-discovery. I hope you enjoy the journey.