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Retirement Resistance

Do you know someone who is having a difficult time retiring? Some of us can't imagine that this would cause any anxiety, yet for many people it does. Maybe the soon to be retiree fears life without work will take away the purpose and meaning of life. Some people's entire identity is tied to their career and there are very few outside activities that give them the same level of fulfillment and satisfaction. Others fear losing status, power/control, and their financial freedom. Losing a sense of confidence and self-worth can also be a worry in retirement, especially for those who are good at making money, but aren't as good at relationships, friendships, and leisure activities. When work is your life, losing it will create a huge void. In some cases, the rewards and accolades from work outshine the recognition at home. While I believe many people fear running out of money in retirement, others fear not knowing what to do with their money. So retirement can be scary. Above and beyond the factors mentioned above, retirement is an unknown and people who like to be in control ( and don't we all?) don't deal well with uncharted territory. In fact, some may even fear retiring will cause a major health problem since life as they've known it is over.

Retirement is often seen as a time in life to do many of the things you couldn't when you were working full time, yet those who worked relentlessly never developed hobbies or extracurricular activities. Sometimes they worked long hours to avoid conflicts in their marriage, with their children, and/or unpleasant activities. We tend to be drawn to things we are good at, comfortable with, and gain confidence from doing. Some of us also get set in our ways and spend much of our time engaged in activities that come easy instead of stretching ourselves to try new things. Instead of fearing the limitless time afforded by retirement, it might be important to develop retirement objectives, even if that sounds like an oxymoron. The truth is, people who have lived by check lists for all their working lives adapt better when there are goals and concrete steps to achieve those goals. Retirement may enable you to work out more regularly, spend more time with family and friends or travel to new destinations. Or maybe it gives you time to deepen your faith and volunteer your time helping others. Research has found that people who volunteer live longer and healthier lives.

Our attitude towards retirement can set the stage. Do we embrace or resist it? Maybe it's a time to read more, get involved in a community organization, complete that home project that has been incomplete for years. It may be a time to take daily naps, rest more consistently, and appreciate the beauty of nature. How are you going to use your time, treasures, and talents in your later years of life? After an initial adjustment period, most people are happy and busy in retirement doing all sorts of activities. Of course our health is always a wild card since we can't control everything in life, which is why approaching retirement with enthusiasm and excitement will prove to be the best approach. Life is a journey and even when we fear the process we can still enjoy the ride.

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