When that bid day finally arrives
King’s Lynn-based psychotherapist and counsellor Amanda Jayne writes about the impact that retirement can have on your emotions.
In my work with people facing the life transition of retirement, be it forced or chosen, there have been varying responses but some key patterns emerge:
This is a new chapter and can lead to a bit of an identity crisis. You are moving from being someone who does something: ‘Anya the teacher’ for example, to ‘I’m a retired teacher’ or ‘I’m retired’. This transition can be either very painful or very welcome, depending upon a few factors:
How much work has played a part in your life?
If you are a complete workaholic and left school straight into work where you have stayed ever since, there is a good chance that there has been little time for developing outside interests. Work may have incorporated your social life; daily banter with colleagues, and your window into the world. In this case, the transition can be a very painful one as suddenly you find yourself without purpose; identity; a social life, or anything to do. In this case you may find it difficult to find
Retirement is the ugliest word in the language – Ernest Hemingway
things to occupy your time as you have never had to think about the things you like or don’t like.
Now is the opportunity to really broaden your horizons and try new things however. So I find that sometimes after clients have settled into retirement, they start to find interests and do things that they would never previously have even tried.
Have you been waiting for this day for a long time?
If you have been counting down the last few years, making plans to do all sorts of things ‘when I retire’, then the transition can be very exciting but also a bit of an anti-climax. You dream of this day but when it actually arrives, clients report feeling lost. Suddenly there is no structure or sense of purpose and it’s only up to them what they do. There’s no-one to please or ‘do’ for and it can be hard to get motivated.
People also report on feelings that ‘one is of no use’.
As social creatures, it’s important to us to feel useful in our community. To be adding something and making a difference in some small way. Clients sometimes report that this can be the hardest thing to come to terms with until they find other ways to feel useful. However, this can be a huge opportunity to use your wealth of life experience and skills and pass them on in some way, or take up an interest; travel; do more of what you like; relax; enjoy family and settle into a slower, more comfortable pace. After all, you’ve earned it haven’t you?
Write to Amanda Jayne MA MBSCP at Feelgood Therapy, Room 11b, St Ann’s House, King’s Lynn, Norfolk PE30 1LT; email firstname.lastname@example.org