More Than the Money

A recently retired friend was bemoaning her lifestyle to me. It seems that she doesn’t know what to do with herself from 9 to 5. She worked all her life. Graduated from community college in the 60’s, got a clerical job in a local hospital, and over a forty year career worked her way up the administrative ladder to her last position: executive assistant to the CEO. Now she is executive in charge of the coffee pot, the kitchen and the laundry.
“I’m glum. I’m feeling lost in my own house. I need stimulation. I need people. I need company.  What’s wrong with me?” she asked.

I told her she was suffering from postpartum depression, except that in her case the postpartum had nothing to do with childbirth but with parting ways with a career that she had her whole life.  When I admitted to her to I had similar feelings when I retired two years ago, she breathed a sigh of relief, “at least I’m not the only one”.

One of the many challenges of preparing for retirement has nothing to do with the money, you know, the pension plan, the 401(k), social security, paying off the mortgage.  Like my friend you can have all your financial ducks in a row, but if you don’t know what you’ll be when you grow up, aka retired, then you’ll find yourself befuddled on that first Monday you wake up with no place to go and nothing to do.

Some recent research has shown that recent retirees will often go on spending sprees simply because they have more free time on their hands.  Shopping or spending till they drop, retirees can now visit the mall, the big box store, or the casino from 9 to 5 to replace that old ennui of staying at home and watching the boob-box.  Heck, in those early months or years of retirement, they can even buy a giant size flat screen smart TV with surround sound. No need to leave home!

I suggested to my friend that she take a month or two to decompress and start planning the rest of her life. Do some more volunteer work at the church.  Take that music appreciation class she has always thought about.  Maybe now is the time to hire a coach and brush up on her tennis game.  Do not become a daycare center for the grandchildren.

Like my friend, newly minted retirees need to know that they are not alone in the brave new world of retirement.  There is no need to wander about like a lost soul looking for the water cooler and conversation.  Robert Frost wrote, “Often, the only way out is through”.  Start moving ahead today.








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2 Responses to More Than the Money

  1. Sherry Chester says:

    I thought this was a great article — though I’m not retired yet, the “empty” time has me concerned. Something that I hadn’t thought much about planning in advance, but that will be just as important as financial planning for the future!!

    • The person I described is real. She is finding her way after several months into retirement.
      It is very easy to fall into a pattern of doing nothing and then wondering “where did the day go?”
      I find that a list of things to do, places to go, people to see, and groceries is very helpful.

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