Most of my peers are retired but to this point I have not chosen to join them. Unlike some of my same-age friends God has blessed me with good health, energy, opportunities to keep working full time, and younger friends who help keep my thinking fresh. Retirement is not mentioned in the Bible and it doesn’t dominate my plans for the future. Even so, I would be unwise to ignore it. None of us keeps going forever. Loss of health and forced retirement can hit hard and unexpectedly. Anticipation of the later years needs to start long before we get there. This is the theme of an entire issue of American Psychologist (April 2011) focused on the psychology of retirement. Here are highlights relevant for people at any age including ourselves, our parents and the people we coach, counsel or lead:
- Retirement is not a single event. It’s a process involving decisions, planning and adjustments over the years.
- This planning needs early and consistent attention throughout one’s working life, in part because of changing government policies, fiscal threats to benefit plans, and evolving attitudes toward aging
- Most people who plan early can make their own decisions about their later years. Wait too late and somebody else decides your future.
- Retirement decisions involve three ongoing phases: imaging the possibility of retirement, assessing when it is time to let go, and making the transition into retirement as effectively as possible.
- Decisions must involve: How will I afford it? Where will I live? Who will I share it with?
- Old images of retirement (rocking chairs and golf carts) are being replaced by plans to launch new careers, experience the later years as a new stage in life, and move toward new goals, even when financial and physical resources are limited or declining.
Preparing for retirement and making adjustments is not limited to the elderly. Helping others prepare for the later years is not limited to specialists in geriatrics or gerontology.
Please share your comments or experiences about retirement or helping others plan and adjust.