By Kate Benzin
If you read the previous article about the Honeymoon Stage of retirement and you are getting close to your last day of work, you may be eagerly anticipating saying farewell to your co-workers. Or maybe you have already retired and remembered how you felt in that time immediately after you finished being a part of the rat race. Perhaps you wished you could return to that time of bliss when you felt that your life was finally open to all possibilities, dependent only on your mood.
Unfortunately, the reality of retirement turned out to be very different from what you had expected. You ended up disillusioned. You’re not even sure just when that happened.
The happiness you felt at not hearing the alarm clock jar you awake very early in the morning has turned into a question you ask yourself every day about why you should bother to get up. You became more dissatisfied each day with your daily routine, and you weren’t sure exactly why. Your attitude toward your new freedom changed little by little, day by day, over the post-retirement months from euphoria to melancholy.
Retirement Disillusionment Is Normal
You may not feel better to know that the letdown following the Honeymoon Stage is normal, but you might at least feel some hope when you realize that you’re not the only one having this experience.
In fact, that knowledge alone might be enough to motivate you into trying to understand why you feel this way and to look for a solution so that you don’t spend the rest of your days feeling depressed.
What Did Your Job Give You Other than a Paycheck?
You might have loved your job or you might have hated it. But there is no doubt that your job gave you more than a paycheck.
- Structure – Your job gave a framework to your days. Your job took up a major portion of each day, and you knew what you needed to do each day. You may have been creative in how to approach problems or situations at work, but you didn’t need to be creative in figuring out what to do with your free time. Now you alone are responsible to plan what to do with yourself all day, every day. And you may already be tired of trying to entertain yourself each day.
- Stimulation – Even the most boring jobs provide some stimulation to workers. Your days brought new problems from time to time, and you needed to find solutions. Doing this gave you a feeling of purpose. You knew that you were contributing to the smooth running of your workplace. Not having the stimulation of a job may have left you feeling worthless and depressed.
- Camaraderie – The social aspect of work is what retirees cite as being the most missed. Even though you might not have been going out for drinks after work with co-workers or having them over for parties at your house, social interaction was built into your days on the job. Even introverts have a need for some social interaction.
Fill Those Needs Elsewhere
Some retirees never get over this feeling of disenchantment. They live out the rest of their lives stuck in this stage of retirement. Don’t be one of those people. Your disillusionment with what you expected to be your ‘golden years’ doesn’t need to be the end of the road.
Now that you know some of the things from your job that you’re missing, you can figure out a way to meet those needs in a different environment. Yes, you will need to be proactive, but at least you now have a focus and can begin to improve your daily routine little by little.
Kate is a freelance writer who has lived on the island of Java for the past 30 years. Java became her home when she took a 3-month work assignment to train Indonesians on word processing equipment in Jakarta, and she fell in love with the adventurous lifestyle that she found there. She worked as a tour director in many countries of the world, but she now spends most of her time writing in her home/office in Yogyakarta, Central Java, which she shares with her two whippets and four Dalmatians. You can visit her at KateFreelanceWriter or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.