CELIA DODD reveals how to address the biggest change of life of all, which so many struggle with

Why leave a paid job, which is stressful, exhausting and implacable, becomes a challenge?

Theoretically, it should be one of the most anticipated moments of our lives: an exciting era of new possibilities, of finally being able to say & # 39; yes & # 39; instead of & # 39; not & # 39 ;, of finally going around all those activities that we have put on hold for years.

So, why do so many people consider retirement to be incredibly hard?

Why leave a paid job, which is stressful, exhausting and implacable, becomes a challenge?

"Work gives you a great sense of fulfillment that is almost impossible to obtain from anything else," says midwife Linda Abbott, whose retirement was seen by millions in One Born Every Minute. "I think that changing that sense of purpose is very difficult to do."

Why leave a paid job, which is stressful, exhausting and implacable, becomes a challenge?

Why leave a paid job, which is stressful, exhausting and implacable, becomes a challenge?

Peter, a former television executive, agrees. "I've seen friends and acquaintances go down very quickly when they retire," he says. "I have a friend who is ten years old since he left the job two years ago.

"He's well qualified and intelligent, but somehow he did not have the means to build on what he had and do some of that, or just enjoy the freedom to do nothing, it's very sad, because he's losing so much."

Part of the problem is, I believe, that even in the 21st century the image of retirement remains firmly stuck in the past. It feels out of sync in a world that gives so much importance to being resolved and occupied, and where being stressed is not only the norm, but a marker of success.

"We have become so obsessed over the last decades with hard work and the idea of ​​being a" go-getter "that retirement, because it is the antithesis of that, is considered as giving up," says Ian Stuart-Hamilton, professor of Developmental Psychology at the University of South Wales.

"There are now more than enough role models for people who are plowing into retirement age, such as American business mogul Warren Buffett, who is 88 years old.

"The danger is that once you get caught up in that mentality, retirement seems a kind of failure."

So, what can we do to change that mentality? Today and next week I will explore how we can, with careful planning and honesty about our long-term goals, turn the potential negative aspects of retirement into positives.

I will examine the thorny issues that worry those about to retire: how and when to take that important step; reinvent ourselves for the next phase; staying physically and mentally alert; and, yes, rekindle our marriages, too.

ROLLING DOWN OR A JUMP IN THE DARK?

TIME was when the decision about how and when to stop working was easy. The retirement age was set at 65 for men and 60 for women, and those milestones remained comfortably in the back of their minds throughout their working lives.

But with a change in the law in 2011 that abolished the default retirement age, the certainties have disappeared.

In theory, we can all continue until we fall. In fact, the numbers that choose to work after 65 have doubled to a record of 1.19 million in the last ten years.

So, of all the numerous retirement options that we now face, which one is the best?

Phased in: reducing your hours gradually by working part-time before leaving? Cliff-edge: stop work during the night? Portfolio: a mixture of part-time work, consulting, self-employment and / or volunteer work?

The list goes on. Should my pension differ? Should I take it as a lump sum, or as an annuity or reduction?

Retirement has gone from being a unique and easy to understand concept to a motley set of amazing possibilities.

So, why do so many people consider retirement to be incredibly hard?

So, why do so many people consider retirement to be incredibly hard?

So, why do so many people consider retirement to be incredibly hard?

At first glance, quitting work overnight sounds like a very bad idea. It does not have to be like that. It is true that many retirements have a bad start when the change is too sudden. However, the surprising truth is that for others it works very well.

"Remember that wonderful feeling when you were a child and the summer vacation seemed to stretch out in front of you endlessly?" Says Lily, who retired early from the Department of Work and Pensions in Sheffield. "This is how I felt the day after leaving work."

"It was as if I had been given a gift, to start with, it felt like annual vacations, but after a few weeks I realized I did not have to go back in. It was wonderful."

The key to making cutting-edge retirement work is preparation, says Chris Phillipson, professor of sociology and social gerontology at the University of Manchester.

"The assumption that cliff-edge is bad is just that, a guess," he says. "It may not be bad if you have support, or it can be very bad if there is no support."

For others, the idea of ​​gradually weaning from work over a period of months or years is more attractive. There are two ways to do this: either negotiating a gradual retirement with your employer or leaving your job full-time and finding a new job part-time or self-employed.

"In general, it has been very good," says Irene, an administrative assistant who has reduced her days in preparation for her retirement. "If I had suddenly withdrawn, I would not have been given the opportunity to see what I will do with my time.

"It took me a while to find new clubs and classes that I really like and activities I want to do, now I'm on the swing, I'm looking forward to retiring.

"Also, if I had gone to a risky retreat, the money would have been cut immediately." As things stand, I gradually got used to not spending as much. "

But gradual retirement is not without its faults. For some people, it turns out to be an unsatisfactory limbo where they end up with one foot in both camps, and do not have enough time or energy to give their full attention to either of them.

"It can be difficult because your position in the workplace changes immediately," says Professor Phillipson. You're half in and out.

"Some people are comfortable with the changed relationship they have with their colleagues, but others do not, if that is the case, they are dragging a change that could be better immediately."

What is increasingly popular is a mixture of part-time work, paid or unpaid consulting and volunteering, which also leaves time for fun.

With this option, there is a flexibility that allows people to change the balance between their different activities as their priorities change. Reducing your workload in your main career is a good way to move to a mixed portfolio.

One of the best feelings in the world is to have many things that you want to do when you are less busy and withdrawn (in the photo)

One of the best feelings in the world is to have many things that you want to do when you are less busy and withdrawn (in the photo)

One of the best feelings in the world is to have many things that you want to do when you are less busy and withdrawn (in the photo)

It may sound strange, but some of the best retirement decisions are not entirely rational.

It goes against what everyone tells you about carefully considering all options, but sometimes a risk comes to fruition.

At this stage of life, with years of rich experience behind us, we are in a good position to trust our instincts. If you follow your heart, things often fall mysteriously in their place.

BE PREPARED AND PLAN AHEAD

One of the best feelings in the world is having many things that you want to do when you are less busy.

The only problem is that when you finally have time on your hands, or you have forgotten what was or has lost its appeal.

That's why it's a good idea to anchor your ideas by planning ahead. Coming with a realistic vision of what you want to do and achieve in the coming years gives you the vital sense of control you need in a time of great change and turmoil.

In general, it is agreed that the ideal time to start thinking about yourself in your new life is a couple of years before you stop working or going part time.

Rules for a happy new beginning

-Keep the development of activities and social ties that you have enjoyed in the years prior to retirement.

-Use a diary to organize your time, instead of going into free fall.

-Keep another diary of the things you've done. It can be reflective, purely factual, or a visual album of entries and memories.

-Make lists of long-term and immediate plans.

-If you want to start retirement with a few months of pure relaxation, set a time limit.

-Introduce the structure of the day punctuated with new rituals at specific times: light the fire; go running; do ten minutes of yoga; Have a coffee at a local coffee shop.

-Create structure in the week with at least one or two commitments.

-But be careful not to take too many. It is easy to underestimate how much time is involved.

-I am proactive in the search for new ways to meet people. If you have no idea where to start, the best starting point is an activity that arouses genuine interest. It's much easier to talk if you already have something in common.

Some people follow professional retirement planning courses, but it is perfectly possible to work things through you.

A few years ago I heard about a friend of a friend who had done exactly that.

Margaret was a full-time lawyer (today, at 69, she still works two days a week) when she and her husband James decided that the only way to overcome their often contradictory views was to spend a weekend in a hotel discussing his plans in detail.

She calls the process & # 39; visionar & # 39; and it has proven to be a great success. So much so that she and her husband have repeated it almost every year since they began seven years ago.

There is a structured structure for the weekend, with a lot of categories to cover, explains Margaret. These include health, relationships, leisure, wellness, volunteer work, your home and intellectual activities.

"On Saturday morning we started discussing where we expect to be in ten years," he says. "Then we review each of the categories.

"It's critical to start with ten years, because everything flows from that, it allows you to focus on what is realistic and what you really want, so, for example, if you dream of living on a houseboat in Thailand, it makes you wonder why and why. why do not you do it, and if that is still your goal, you need to know how to master Thai in five years.

"Then, they discuss their vision of five years, three years and a year, ending with an immediate action plan of 90 days.

"As soon as we get home I write the minutes and book the weekend of the following year.

"It makes us think more strategically, instead of simply solving problems and fighting fires."

The preparations and the vision for retirement could include thinking in advance about what will miss more about the job and how you can recreate it, be it colder moments, work in teams, or even travel.

Think of what would ideally be an average workday once the initial honeymoon period of retirement ends.

Look at the roads without direction. We have all had interests that have been left on the road due to time pressures while we worked and raised children

Look at the roads without direction. We have all had interests that have been left on the road due to time pressures while we worked and raised children

Look at the roads without direction. We have all had interests that have been left on the road due to time pressures while we worked and raised children

Specific ideas are more useful than vague ambitions. Where will you spend most of your time? What will you be doing? With what friends do you want to socialize? How do weekends differ from days of the week?

If you plan to volunteer, work part-time or establish your own business, find out what skills or qualifications you might need.

Finally, look at the roads without direction. We have all had interests that have been left on the road due to time pressures while we worked and raised children. Now is the time to relive them.

MANAGE THE TRANSITION

The latest research suggests that the best way to deal with retirement is to treat it not as the end of the road, but as an important transition in life, while leaving home or facing an empty nest.

And the good news is that at this stage of their lives, people have what it takes to cope successfully, according to psychology professor Dr. Oliver Robinson.

"We can learn a lot from previous transitions," he says. "Many of the same problems arise in the major crises of life, such as identity, meaning and purpose, if you navigate through a crisis successfully and grow out of it, it should mean that you are well prepared for the next.

Ellen Langer, a professor of psychology at Harvard University, agrees. "Retirement can be a bad word, because people see it as the end, a phase in which you do nothing," she says. & # 39; If you change jobs, go from Work A to Work B. But retirement does not have an attached B. The antidote is to see retirement as a change, instead of a movement towards nothingness. "

This new and enlightening approach focuses on how the psychological qualities we have developed during previous transitions and during our working lives – attributes such as resilience, adaptability, flexibility, open-mindedness and a "can do" attitude – they can be useful for the challenges of retirement.

John, who took two long breaks from work to go on a trip, first in his 30's and then in his 50's, when he went to Barcelona for a few months to learn Spanish and ended up staying for seven years, is a good example.

"I think both experiences helped me prepare for retirement," he says. "You realize you have to make things happen." You can not be passive. "

He is quite right. It is true that the happiest retired people are often the ones who are most proactive in looking for interesting things to do. If there is no bird watching or cinema club in your area, do not stay; They prepared one.

When a friend of mine retired to the field, she really missed her group of books. So he bravely approached who liked his appearance and asked if they wanted to join hers.

If you are lucky enough to meet someone like that, see them as the real asset they are.

IT'S TIME TO CREATE A NEW YOU

JUBILAR implies one of the biggest changes of identity that we have lived, as transcendental as being a father or leaving home. After years of being seen and of seeing yourself, as a merchant, nurse or engineer, you suddenly become an ex-whatever. It is common to feel, as Nadia does, that you are 60 years old and you are no longer in the world. Does not matter ".

For her, the loss of status she feels is acute.

"I do not like being invisible when I enter a room," says Nadia. "At work, you have a formal place to assert yourself.

Playing in a band, taking a night class, working on an assignment, being a member of a sports club or a group of books can build bridges between the old you and the new you.

Playing in a band, taking a night class, working on an assignment, being a member of a sports club or a group of books can build bridges between the old you and the new you.

Playing in a band, taking a night class, working on an assignment, being a member of a sports club or a group of books can build bridges between the old you and the new you.

"Then all that structure is sent away and you just keep circling, saying:" I used to be a. . "

"Everything you've accumulated throughout your career disappears, and suddenly you're just another old woman looking to do a bit of volunteering."

For women in particular, work confers an independent identity quite separate from family and domestic life. When that disappears, and often coincides with the loss of the manual parenting function, it can make people feel doubly bewildered.

You may not even want to think about a new identity before you retire. But if you are aware that work dominates your life (or that of your partner) to the exclusion of other interests, it is worth starting to develop at least one new activity beforehand.

Support networks that run parallel to work and continue beyond can be very helpful.

People will begin to see you not only as a brilliant brain surgeon, but as a player of evil darts or a good guitarist.

Playing in a band, taking a night class, working on an assignment, being a member of a sports club or a group of books can build bridges between the old you and the new you.

It is also important to reinforce this new identity with other people. Instead of saying apologetically: "I used to be a …" When asked what he does, it feels much more positive to say: "I'm studying astronomy", or I'm planning to start A rag shop & # 39;

Soon, other people in your immediate circle and beyond will get used to seeing you in a new light, and that, in turn, will reinforce your own vision of yourself.

Liz, who retired two years ago, solved the problem by telling people that she was taking a "break," instead of having finished the job. "If you tell people that you're retired, their eyes are a little clouded, especially the younger ones," he says. "I did not like the glazing.

"However, when I started exploring a new part of myself and tried different things that I really enjoyed, I felt comfortable with the idea of ​​a different identity, and now I am happy to say that I am retired.

It is a process that happens organically, but sometimes it needs a little push.

As your work person moves back gradually, you leave space for a different side of life to occupy a central place, and you can spend more time on activities that resonate with your core values. And how much of a privilege is that?

  • Not Fade Away, by Celia Dodd, will be published on September 20 by Green Tree at £ 12.99. © Celia Dodd 2018. To order a copy for £ 10.39 (a 20 percent discount), visit mailshop.co.uk/books, or call 0844 571 0640. P & P is free for orders over £ 15. Valid until September 22, 2018.

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