March 10, 2014

7 Reasons Retirement Doesn't Satisfy

A Satisfying Retirement isn't a reality for everyone who is ready to retire, or close enough to dream about it in great detail. Readers of this blog know I am a firm believer in the fabulous opportunities for personal growth and passion fulfillment of this stage of life. But, I have openly admitted I struggled during the first few years, and even now almost 14 years into it, have periods of doubt and frustration.

Without rehashing everything that can cause problems, I put together this simplified list of seven things that can cause an unsatisfying retirement, at least for a period of time:

1. Not ready..still enjoying work. Not everyone wants to retire when society seems to tell us it is time. For many it isn't even about wanting to add to retirement savings. it is the personal satisfaction and challenges. As long as what you do to earn money satisfies you and is in harmony with the rest of your life, it isn't time for retirement.
 
2. No replacement for place of work in life. This is the opposite of the situation above. Retirement sounds great and you are ready, but you have nothing to come home to. You have never developed interests or passions away from the office or job site. Without something to stimulate you in this way, retirement will only cause frustration.

3. Unrealistic expectations. If you believe no more work means no more responsibilities or complications you will be disappointed. If your savings are more appropriate for long weekends in the nearest state park but you think you are entitled to a world cruise, there are problems ahead.

4. Fear and Worry. The opposite concern is to worry about every penny you spend or to live in fear that your planning was not sufficient. Financial pitfalls don't stop just because you don't work, but to focus on them will make for an unhappy existence.

5. Poor time management. When folks retire, many over-commitment themselves to projects, goals, volunteer work, and travel plans. Others suddenly realize the day is still 24 hours long and you are responsible for filling it. Either approach usually results in an unsatisfying experience.

6. Entered unprepared financially and emotionally. Just because the calendar says you are retirement age, doesn't mean you can. As this blog has pointed out time and time again, there is a real requirement that you enter this new phase of your life well prepared.

7. Looking at others' lives. Retirement is a unique journey. How mine has unfolded will not be like yours. While I hope my experiences can help you make the best decisions, eventually your life will assume a direction that is right for you. Just like it is counterproductive to envy someone's bigger home or newer car, trying to match a retirement lifestyle you read about in a magazine or hear about from a friend will not make you happy.



Every one of the seven pitfalls I have listed is avoidable. Each simply takes some effort, a fresh perspective, and an honest appraisal of your situation, needs, and desires.


You can do it. You will do it.



33 comments:

  1. Excellent points, Bob. What I find interesting in my situation is that after five + years of what I consider a wonderful time of retirement, I nevertheless find that nothing yet has brought forth the old passion that I often felt in my "working years". Lots of positive involvement with friends, family, hobbies, and projects. But I still am searching for that "wow" passion that had me almost obsessive in pursuing some of those past activities (as once did theater, puppetry, banjo, and golf - in different ways. times, and measures).

    Please know that I don't see this as anything wrong here. To me, it just means that I am still searching and leaving myself open to new possibilities (the latest experiment is in creating/building "fairy houses" for-and-with my grandkids). I'm not sure if the diminished passion "issue" is a result of greater perspective or whatever, but I do indeed miss the more overtly "following my bliss" feelings ...... as of yet. :)

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    1. I must agree with you, Steve. I enjoy blogging and writing and the friendships I have made. I enjoy my involvement in our church and my various Bible studies. But, the overwhelming "passion" I felt when I first became fascinated by radio at age 12 that guided my life for the next several decades is not there.

      Of course, when that passion was active I had no other life. My whole world centered on radio, even to placing family and friends in second place at times. So, having a better balance now is a good thing, though as you note, the "fire in the belly" of days past was exciting and powerful.

      I like your idea that as we age we acquire a different, broader, perspective and find many things bring us joy.

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  2. Banjo and Bob,

    I think age takes away a great deal of the fire in the belly.

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    1. You are probably right, Anne. but I kind of miss that type of all consuming passion for one thing.

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  3. Hi Bob, I just made the decision to retire at the end of June this year - one year earlier than I had thought initially. I have to say I sliced & diced the financial side to death and finally took my advisor's word that I COULD DO IT. I finally realized that my career had peaked and I was tired. My partner was retired; we have a few major trips in our bucket list and he is five years older than me. We are re-locating to warmer climes and I anticipate that will sap up much of my energy and passion (love to decorate!) but beyond more writing and travelling, I can't say I have a map stating what I will do when on a day by day basis. Moving into an affordable Fifty Plus complex still in Canada is one step toward building some social connections that are missing in this BIG CITY and long work days I now experience. Blogging will be my therapy! I do plan on building up some cycling skills - my sister won't even consider a cycle trip with me until I can log 50 K a day! That will also keep me busy! Love your blog - such practical and inspiring sharing! Thanks.

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    1. You have a well-thought out list and plan, Eileen. You are approaching the whole adventure with eyes wide open. I bet you will do just fine.

      Your sister must be quite a cyclist...50k (31 miles) a day is no small feat.

      Thanks for the compliments, Eileen. I am happy you find some value here.

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  4. I had a couple of interesting careers over the last 60 years but I never really felt as "passionately" connected to my work as others I observed. I have always enjoyed music , art, crafts,cooking and homemaking,hiking,nature , my pets, and lazy afternoons browsing art galleries and stopping at a local cafe for a latte.. more than "work.." Retiring from 2 stressful industries (health care and office management) have brought me back HOME TO MYSELF! I feel like I have shed a think heavy overcoat..winter is GONE and spring is back!! Its' fun to see my husband rediscovering his old interests and developing some brand new ones too-- we NEVER EVER thought about RV-ing and that's opening up a whole new world to look into--I say, stay open to ALL POSSIBILITIES and explore some stuff you never thought you would.. Thanks as always for sharing,Bob!!

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    1. Anne made the point in the comment above that as we age we lose the "fire in the belly" feeling we had as a younger person. I think she is right, and your thoughts echo the reality of retirement: our interests and activities broaden so that many things fill our days with joy. We become more well-rounded.

      You are less than a week from the big move to the mountains. I can tell from your comments how exciting all this is for you and Ken. Have a great week.

      BTW, Betty and I will be in Gilbert on Saturday for a few hours with family. If you guys will be around in the afternoon maybe we can meet before you head north. Drop me an email.

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  5. Good list, Bob. I'm still working on finding that balance between being too busy (in the winter, in Arizona), and not busy enough (the rest of the year, in Washington State). The closest thing I've found to a passion in retirement is mediating - 140 hours of training for this volunteer activity, worth every minute.

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    1. I read your experiences on your blog and the comments folks leave about mediation. It is a skill and service very much needed in our less-than-civil society. I can imagine how satisfying your work can be (and frustrating at times, too!).

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  6. Very interesting perspective, Bob, and well-timed for myself since it looks like I will be giving this retirement thing everyone talks some much about a whirl starting the first week of April. As a new person facing this next stage of life, I look at your seven points as:

    #1 - not an issue. Been tired of it for awhile
    #2 - too many things to do outside of work. Also not an issue.
    #3 - not an issue here either. Deb and I live below our means and should be fine.
    #4 - while I probably have greater knowledge in this area than many/most, and we are doing fine. financially, I have always been concerned my whole life about this aspect. That will probably not stop in retirement, and a certain amount of it is probably a good thing.
    #5 - with everything I need to do around the house, and all the things Deb and I want to do outside the home, we'll be okay.
    #6 - always a bit of a shock to make the decision, I am sure. It is an admission of many things, some which would be construed negatively by many (e.g. aging). Could be an issue sometime but not yet.
    #7 - we like our lifestyle, and can appreciate others as well. But envy? We try not to.

    All in all, I believe I (since Deb has been retired four years and loves it) can weather the storm, and enter a satisfying stage in my life as well. Keep up the great posts, Bob.

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    1. I think you got an A+ on the checklist. Follow Deb's lead and you two will have a tremendous time together.

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  7. If one has a partner, I think successful retirement depends heavily on the relationship. If you got along well while one or both of you worked, chances are high your retirement years will be pleasant.

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    1. You are absolutely right, Dick. Retirement requires that your significant relationship be in good working order since being together full time can be quite an adjustment.

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  8. Loved the post., Last week was my two year retirement anniversary & I have had an amazingly enjoyable retirement (after a wonderful working career doing something I thought was very important.) The biggest struggle I'm having is good ol '5. Unrealistic time expectations/time management has been a bugaboo, but I am fully aware that if that's the only periodic issue I have, I am truly blessed. I am on the "over-scheduled" side of the list but am learning, as my love says, "to at least hesitate" before I say yes! All kidding aside, it is a work in progress, but I am improving steadily.

    Like Bob commented, as for the "fire in the belly" I do find when I have that (now or in the past) my life becomes unbalanced; everything else seems to take second place. While I like to plunge into specific projects & feel that "thrill" of total focus, right now, for me, to have a healthy, satisfying retirement, overall balance seems to work best for me.

    The greatest thing about retirement is the ability to evaluate & adjust; most of us have many options for our day. What a gift!

    pam

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    1. I am glad Anne made the comment about the change in the role, or power, of a passion as we grow older. I like the ability to have lots of thing that interest me. That couldn't happen if all my thoughts were consumed by one thing. I hadn't really thought about it until she raised the subject, but she is correct...and that is a good thing (unless you are starting a new business and then you probably have that "fire.")

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  9. Interesting. I'm a little surprised at how easily we've adapted to this stage of life. Dave was exhausted by the time he retired, and I feel I'll never really retire in the buttoned up kind of sense. I feel bad for those who have never been comfortable just going with the flow. Sometimes worrying too much gets in the way. But, that's just me.
    b

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    1. I could use more of the "go with the flow" mindset but I'm getting better! Example? We have only planned our stops on the outbound part of this summer's RV trip. The return is wide open in terms of routes and timing.

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  10. To readers: my spam comments are back up to almost 50 a day. After dropping way down apparently this blog is back on someone's radar. I have learned a trick, though. Wait until the end of the day and then delete all of them at once.

    My blogging buddies: have you noticed any changes? Is it a springtime is almost here thing?

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    1. I have Askimet on my wp blog, and it's very thorough, but some creep in. I always go to the spam folder 2 or 3 times a week and empty it. I wish I could figure out what these goofy robots get out of it.

      Delete



    2. I have no idea what they accomplish but they follow a pattern. One of my favorites is the one that says "have you noticed some of your commenters appear to be brain-dead?" That same one pops up a few times a week.

      Obviously some blogs must post this crap or the spammers wouldn't continue.

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  11. I find the references to a dulling of 'the fire in the belly' to be of interest in that I haven't experienced it yet in retirement, nor has my almost-60 husband, nor has my 77 year old father. We are all three still raising the bar on what we think we are capable of, and with that comes a tremendous excitement, and then a tremendous sense of accomplishment when achieved.

    What, exactly, puts that fire in our bellies has certainly changed over the years, but not the sensation itself. It still burns bright as ever for us all when we push ourselves into new territory.

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    1. Some clarification is in order. At leasr as I use the "fire in the belly" expression I am referring to one, central all consuming interest. During my career all I thought about, talked about, and deeply cared about was radio.

      Since retirement my interests, areas of concern, and new experiences have broadened. No one thing completely dominates. And, that is a very good thing. I am now much more well-rounded and open to new things while shedding activities that no longer satisfy.

      A singular, fire in the belly, focus has been replaced by a "heat" for multiple newness.

      Does that make sense?

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    2. Yes! And that I can absolutely go with!

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  12. When I am on vacation I find myself reading your blog. I am in the most intense period of my work career which is highly satisfying and well rewarded. I work with people I love and have worked with for 20 years and we are turning around a great company. We are empty nesters and my husband of 30 years is just getting the career of his dreams after staying home with the girls.

    It's not easy for me to sit still and rest so give me an iPad on a vacation day and I will start planning - I am deeply appreciative of your thoughts and wisdom. Somehow your insights help me treasure what I have while I have it but start the thinking about what's next. Part of my happiness comes from knowing that I don't need this job, and when the day comes that I'm done (or they are done with me!) I will find a way to keep the satisfaction coming while I rest and take care of my body which will surely begin it's decline.

    Warm regards from sunset key off key west.

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    1. This was sent to me via e-mail. I have deleted the name but copied the rest of the message because it shows someone who both understands herself now and can clearly see her future.

      Plus, I love Key West and envy someone who is on Sunset Key (just off shore from Mallory Square).

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  13. Ah, the fire in the belly. I agree with Anne that with age, some of that fire or need for the fire slows down. I think that other things take precedence and we learn to appreciate other things, maybe the little things more. For example, when I look out the window at the best toboggan hill and realize that I don't need the thrill of sliding down from the top anymore. I can appreciate the thrill from half way-up! (or down, depending upon your perspective). Life management is an issue whether retired or employed. As humans, we all benefit from a purposeful existence and something to look forward to, whatever form that takes.

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    1. Our interests and what motivates does change over time. As long as I stay involved and active I am content.

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  14. Bob? This comment is off topic. We, a pair of rain birds, visited Kierwood Commons today. It was difficult to find a parking space. We had the same problem in Sedona recently on a weekday. Does this truly ease up after March?

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    1. Yes!

      Because of the really rough winter in many parts of the country this has been a very busy couple of months....much busier than the last few years.

      Winter visitors begin to leave in early April with most gone by the end of the month. Suddenly there is room to breathe again!

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  15. You are so much more polite than my husband, Bob, who corrected me that it is Kierland Commons -- lol.

    Maybe next year we can come earlier or stay through April. Thanks.

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    1. Even though it is crowded, you must admit the weather has been tremendous. This time in March we can have rain, and we can have temperatures that bounce around from the 60s to the upper 80's. The last few weeks have been picture perfect.

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    2. I totally agree that the weather has been gorgeous. I'm amazed how many birds we are spotting around the condo -- quite the concert:)

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