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Is Retirement Like the Coronavirus?

In several ways – yes. Here are a few:

• Paralyzing fear and anxiety – Many people face retirement with an overwhelming fear of what it will be like. So many changes when you leave your career. You can lose your identity, sense of purpose, and often things you enjoy doing. It can be terrifying not knowing what will replace them.

• Social distancing – One of the other things you lose when you retire are the friends and colleagues you enjoyed interacting with. Sure, you have the best intentions of staying in touch, but slowly you lose the things you had in common and the connections fade. Now you have to find a way to stay socially engaged differently.

• Your old routines disappear – It is intoxicating to think about not having to set an alarm, not having a hectic and demanding schedule that leaves you exhausted most evenings, having more time to do the things you want to do, and not having your schedule determined by other people. Initially, freedom is very liberating. However, you can easily slip into habits that may not serve you like watching too much TV, allowing useless things to consume your day, and starting cocktail hour too early every day. Now you have to find ways to fill the empty hours with things that are meaningful to you – but what?

• Misinformation – There is a lot of it about retirement. Some myths and stereotypes feed fear like the “best part of my life are over”, “it’s all downhill from here”, “I’m just going to get sick and decline slowly.” That kind of misinformation is harmful because if you buy into it, it may well happen to you – but you don’t have to.

• The high likelihood that you will be fine as long as you take care of yourself – That means you have to be prepared. You can identify the things about your career that you enjoyed and consciously find ways to replace them rather than letting the void create problems.

Is there a dark side to retirement? There can be if you let it happen. But it does not have to be a dark and scary time.

Unlike the coronavirus, you have total control over how your retirement turns out. You can choose how you look at it. You can learn the facts about the stereotypes so they don’t colour your thinking. You can read about how other people have turned this time into the best time of their lives so you begin to see the endless possibilities that lay ahead for you. It’s totally up to you.

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