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 aman­da­j­goss@gmail.com

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