The Jerusalem Post - The Jerusalem Post Magazine - - CONTENTS - • DR. BATYA L. LUDMAN The writer is a li­censed clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist in pri­vate prac­tice in Ra’anana, and au­thor of Life’s Jour­ney: Ex­plor­ing Re­la­tion­ships-- Re­solv­ing Con­flicts. She has writ­ten about psy­chol­ogy in The Jerusalem Post since 2000. [email protected]

My dad, of beloved me­mory, a true worka­holic, de­cided that life needed to have more mean­ing and de­cided at age 55 to re­tire. At least in his mind, that’s what he thought he did. He sold his suc­cess­ful busi­ness and told my mom that all those things he never had time for be­fore, they could now do to­gether. He wanted to travel, spend more time to­gether, do ac­tiv­i­ties he pre­vi­ously didn’t have time for, and re­ally en­joy life. He was ec­static.

Re­tire­ment lasted ap­prox­i­mately one week, and it be­came clear that if he didn’t find some­thing to oc­cupy his time, my mother would be out search­ing for work in or­der to sur­vive their new way of life. Hav­ing been ac­cus­tomed to be­ing busy from morn­ing to night, he com­pleted all his re­tire­ment projects in un­der a week and won­dered what he would pos­si­bly do next. Need­ing some­thing more to oc­cupy his time, while con­tin­u­ing to think he was still re­tired, he be­came in­volved in sev­eral other busi­ness ven­tures and re­duced his work sched­ule to “only” 35 hours a week. Ev­ery­one was now happy. In his mind, he was con­vinced that he had re­tired, my mother no longer had to find odd jobs for him to do to keep him busy, he took off more time so they could travel to­gether and both were happy with this ar­range­ment well into his 70s.

While per­haps dif­fi­cult to imag­ine re­tire­ment, be­ing suc­cess­ful at it re­quires just that. You must en­vi­sion it. Here are a few thoughts on the sub­ject, so if not al­ready there, you can dream of the day when be­com­ing a re­tiree may be­come your re­al­ity.

1. Plan ahead. Think about your re­tire­ment to­day! As you be­gin to make your plans, as­sess your con­cerns and those that you may have as a cou­ple. Make a list, and one by one, ex­am­ine the is­sues, look­ing at all pos­si­bil­i­ties with which you both can make it work. Af­ter all, with life ex­pectancy well into the 80s, you could po­ten­tially have more than 20 years of re­tire­ment to en­joy. 2. Seek fi­nan­cial plan­ning ad­vice. Find a good fi­nan­cial planner who can help you de­ter­mine if you can af­ford to re­tire and how to plan for the fu­ture you’d like. If you’re young and read­ing this, re­mem­ber that if you wait un­til you’re 60 to first be­gin to eval­u­ate your needs, you may dis­cover that you can’t re­tire in the way you’d hoped. Proper fi­nan­cial plan­ning is es­sen­tial. Once you’ve re­tired, you may find that you have a lower in­come than pre­vi­ously. Your needs will have also changed, and you’ll need to real­is­ti­cally de­ter­mine if you’ll likely spend less, more or the same as be­fore.

3. As­sess your per­sonal needs. Be hon­est with your­self. Have you pre­vi­ously been in­volved or overly in­volved with work? How do you en­vi­sion an av­er­age day/week? Do you have out­side in­ter­ests? Can you imag­ine be­ing to­gether with your part­ner for long pe­ri­ods of time? Can your part­ner imag­ine hav­ing you around? How do your sched­ules mesh? How do your chil­dren feel about your re­tire­ment plans? Are there op­tions to par­tially re­tire and grad­u­ally phase out your work, giv­ing you an op­por­tu­nity to ad­just more slowly? Can you shift re­spon­si­bil­i­ties to lighten your load or move into a con­sul­ta­tive po­si­tion be­fore re­tir­ing al­to­gether and would you even want to? The key to suc­cess is flex­i­bil­ity and it is im­por­tant to ex­plore all avail­able op­tions and pos­si­bil­i­ties.

How would you like to spend your free time? Will you have am­ple op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore in­ter­ests that you’ve put on hold while still pos­si­bly ad­dress­ing the needs of other fam­ily mem­bers? Do you en­vi­sion re­tire­ment as a time to take all those classes that you have missed over the years or to travel? Are you us­ing your time to do the things that you want to be do­ing? Do you feel like a glo­ri­fied babysit­ter with your grand­chil­dren be­ing dropped off for the third time this week when you had hoped to spend time with your part­ner? Do you dream of spend­ing more time with your grand­chil­dren? Your dreams can be end­less, but you first must know what you want out of your re­tire­ment.

4. Get in­volved and keep busy. Are there hob­bies, cour­ses or vol­un­teer op­por­tu­ni­ties that in­ter­est you? You may have much to of­fer and be­ing needed can feel won­der­ful. My father-in law took sev­eral cour­ses a se­mes­ter, at­tended im­por­tant monthly meet­ings of the ROMEO (Re­tired Old Men Eating Out) club and kept very phys­i­cally ac­tive and men­tally in­volved.

It is im­por­tant not to cut your­self off from ei­ther the out­side world or your past busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment if it can add mean­ing to your life. Find out­lets for so­cial­iza­tion that work for you in your new life­style. If most of your so­cial­iz­ing took place at work, you’ll now have to ex­plore other av­enues for friend­ship.

5. Be aware of stress and ex­am­ine ways to pre­vent and deal with it. Re­tire­ment in­volves many stress­ful changes. If you don’t ac­cept change eas­ily and don’t see tran­si­tions as po­ten­tially pos­i­tive, speak with a pro­fes­sional for some guid­ance be­fore tak­ing the plunge. She’ll help you ex­plore your con­cerns, an­tic­i­pate var­i­ous sources of stress that you might face and pro­vide stress re­duc­tion tech­niques. Eating sen­si­bly, get­ting plenty of sleep and ex­er­cise and main­tain­ing a pos­i­tive out­look all con­trib­ute to good health as well.

6. Ex­am­ine the con­di­tions un­der which you have made re­tire­ment. Forced re­tire­ment at any age may not feel good. We all like to feel val­ued and in con­trol of our fu­ture. Pre­ma­ture re­tire­ment may re­sult in in­se­cu­rity, low self-es­teem, low self-worth, fi­nan­cial prob­lems and de­pres­sion. Ill­ness or death of a spouse may also com­pli­cate the re­tire­ment process. How are you deal­ing with this and re­tire­ment in gen­eral? Do you stay in bed all day, not both­er­ing to get dressed or leave the house? Are you bored or can’t seem to find mean­ing in your life? If you find that re­tire­ment isn’t what you thought it would be, look for ways to make changes that will bring you more sat­is­fac­tion.

7. Check out your at­ti­tude and ap­proach to life. At­ti­tude is ex­tremely im­por­tant to suc­cess­ful re­tire­ment. This is a new stage of life and there will be no short­age of chal­lenges. How you see these chal­lenges will in part de­ter­mine how eas­ily you’ll get through them. A pos­i­tive at­ti­tude and ex­cite­ment at the prospect of change will put you well ahead of the game.

8. Ex­plore how your mar­riage has changed as a re­sult of your re­tire­ment. Are you ex­pect­ing your part­ner to drop ev­ery­thing for you? Are you help­ful and ap­pre­ci­ated at home or do you or your part­ner feel that you are in the way? Do you still each get to do many of the things that you did and en­joyed prior to re­tire­ment? It is im­por­tant to look at the re­tire­ment/work sta­tus of you both as you’ll both have to make life­style ad­just­ments

CAR­RIED OUT prop­erly and given lots of thought, re­tire­ment can open the world to many ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. If you as an in­di­vid­ual and a cou­ple feel com­fort­able and se­cure, this new change in life­style can be in­cred­i­bly re­ward­ing. Travel pos­si­bil­i­ties and a chance to re­ally sit back and en­joy life while still healthy enough to ap­pre­ci­ate what you hope­fully have gained is a won­der­ful gift. Some­times, things don’t go quite as well as you may have planned and health, fam­ily or fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties in­ter­vene. If so, you may have to shift gears and re­think things a bit. I sin­cerely hope that you can make the most of these years and are blessed with the op­por­tu­nity to en­joy this time with those whom you love the most.

While per­haps dif­fi­cult to imag­ine re­tire­ment, be­ing suc­cess­ful at it re­quires just that


‘SEEK FI­NAN­CIAL plan­ning ad­vice.’

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