Mentally prepare for retirement?
Optometrist Peter Greedy, a personal development and leadership coach, explains why there’s more to retirement planning than succession and financial questions
13 September 2022
How Peter Greedy defines ‘pre-retirement’
There is no shortage of advice on retirement planning for your money and lifestyle. However, there is much less advice on how to handle this existential change in identity. Nearly half of people over 55 say they have experienced depression, with symptoms including low mood, lack of energy, reduced enjoyment, low self-esteem, feelings of hopelessness, lack of appetite, disrupted sleep patterns, and poor concentration.
For this reason, it is easy to drift into retirement without any intentionality or sense of purpose. So, what are the tools that individuals can utilise to cope with this existential life change?
The number one piece of advice is to be intentional about this transition. Don’t just drift into this stage of life unintentionally. It’s never too early to start thinking about this, just as it’s never too early to do the financial planning for retirement. You have time and resources and should use them wisely. Take a set period of time ahead of retirement – at least a few months and up to a year – to do a life inventory. Get in touch with who you are and who you want to be, now and in the future.
Find your purpose
For decades your purpose is likely to have been intimately linked to your work. Now is the time to dig into your values and beliefs, to find meaning and purpose for your retirement.
Don’t do it alone
Having someone alongside you is just as important for this stage of life as it is for your working life. None of us work in isolation. We have peers, partners, colleagues and clients, all of whom are a significant part of life. You may consider getting professional help from a coach who can work with you to guide you, ask pertinent questions, challenge you to think strategically about next steps, and provide some accountability. We do this naturally at work, and having similar processes in place as you approach the next stage will be helpful.
You may consider getting professional help from a coach who can work with you to guide you, ask pertinent questions, challenge you to think strategically about next steps, and provide some accountability
Make a contribution
As an optometrist, giving of oneself in service to others is no stranger to you. Your working life has been dedicated to helping people see better and enjoy good eye health. You have worked in a service capacity all these years, aligned with your purpose. Carrying this into retirement is a key component of being happy, content and fulfilled in life. Find a cause aligned with your purpose and allocate some time each month at least to this.
Plan a weekly routine
We live a life of natural rhythms – daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally and annually. Working with these natural rhythms of life is important and so keeping a weekly routine with time slots allocated for important activities ensures we don’t drift into inactivity and isolation.
Stay mentally, physically and socially active
Looking after the mind and body as well as your social connections is critical and in retirement you’ll have much more time on your hands for these things.
Your working life has been dedicated to helping people see better and enjoy good eye health
A consequence of modernity is that we are both living longer and sleeping less. Advances in medical science mean we have a longer life expectancy than our parents and grandparents, and this, coupled with the over stimulation afforded by technology means we are sleeping less. Sleep deprivation is also a risk factor for hypertension, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s and autoimmune diseases.
In summary, embrace life with intentionality. Don’t drift from one phase to the next without purpose or without making a contribution. Get help where you need it, and do what you can to stay mentally, physically and emotionally well.