In part 1 of this series ‘Are people preparing sufficiently for retirement’, we looked at the financial aspect including saving and expenditure.

In part 2, we are going to look at the 8 losses we are likely to experience with retirement.

Many people believe they can just set a date and retire but there is more to it than that as people who have retired will tell you.

  1. Loss of employment is something that we all have to address in retirement. As children, we have been conditioned to work. Remember as a child being asked or maybe as an adult, you were guilty of asking the question ‘What are you going to be when you grew up?’ The subjects that we choose to study in secondary school are generally aimed towards employment either directly or a university course preparing for employment. So for the last 40 – 50 years, your life has been employment focused. The day of retirement arrives; you have a party and receive well wishes for the future. The next day, no employment. The loss of employment also has some other consequences.
  2. The loss of identity is something that people need to consider in retirement. In our society, for better or worse, you are what you do. When being introduced to new people or as a topic of conversation with new people, the question is often asked, ‘What do you do?’ If we travel to a foreign country, the immigration form will also ask your occupation. What is your new identity going to be in retirement?
  3. The third loss is that of status. The loss of status can be a major problem for people in senior positions to adapt to. Whether you have had 50 staff or 50,000 staff, you have had some status in the workforce and been able to influence some control over when things were undertaken or delegate people to undertake certain work. As a normal citizen, you will have to adjust to the way things happen. It is unlikely that a tradesperson will immediately stop the work that they are currently doing to attend to you work, unless it is an emergency.
  4. Coupled with those above can be a loss of respect. This can be two fold, the most dangerous being a loss of respect for yourself now that you are no longer gainfully employed and contributing to society. The second is one of our society where unlike some cultures where age is respected, many western societies don’t show a great deal of respect for the elderly or the wisdom and knowledge that they have gained over the years.
  5. A loss of perspective is where retirees think of retirement as having one foot in the grave. Sadly, we have probably heard of retirees buying a new car with the attitude of ‘this vehicle will see them out’. Why? Just because you have retired from employment does not mean you have to retire from life.
  6. Work provides many people a purpose in life. Without work, many feel a loss of purpose. In retirement, you need to feel productive, worthwhile and valuable. What will make you feel this way?
  7. Almost regardless of your work environment, our employment provides us with the varying degree of intellectual stimulus. Our job may require us to undertake some problem solving but even if it is a fairly mundane job such as on a production line, we still have to think about what we are doing to ensure the operation on the production line works efficiently.
  8. Lastly, there is a loss of structure. Employment provides a structure to our lives. We have a time to wake up, to have breakfast and a time to arrive at work. Work provides a structure to the time that we are at work and then a time to head home. If we wish to take some leave from work, we will have a day that we are required to return to work. In retirement, we are going to need to replace this structure. What will you do to provide a structure to your day? Without some structure, how will you know what day of the week it is?

Can you relate to any of these losses? Have you seen any of these in retirees?

Unfortunately, very few people are warned of how retirement may affect them. These are real problems but they affect people in different ways and at different levels of intensity. For some people, they will be able to take these changes in their stride but for others, it may be the start of depression and serious illness.

Being aware of these losses may help you to prepare for some or all of these.

I would be interested in any comments that you may have. If you think this may be of interest to someone, please share this post.

In the Part three of this series, we will look at health, both physical and mental. I look forward to you joining us then.

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