Psychological Portfolio for Retirement – It’s Not Just About the Money

We’re all
accustomed to hearing and reading about planning for retirement, which usually
only covers the financial side of things. There’s no minimizing the importance
of money to live on. We know, however, if we really think about it, that
retirement entails much more than financial consideration.

Sure, we
think about things we will do once we retire; bucket lists we want to tick off.
But do we really give it as much thought, planning, and overall attention as we
do to our financial life post-retirement?

Retirement Is a Complex Matter

There is a
lot to navigate in the realm of what we call our psychological portfolio.

First of
all, we must recognize and acknowledge that retirement is a major life
transition. And transitions require adjustments. Adjustments involve our
psychological and emotional inner landscape.

So, what
are we adjusting to? We are acclimating to a whole new phase of life that
entails a lot of change. Routines and structure are gone, and change is overall
scary. Everything we’re used to – even if
we complained a lot – is gone.

are difficult. We need to be kind to ourselves during this time.

actually much loss involved in retirement. We usually think and connect the
idea of loss to death. But loss entails more than death; it is anything we have
felt connected to – that we value, that has meaning and
significance to us – that is
gone and leaves a void in our lives. Hence, retirement.

Let’s look at the various types of specific losses that are a natural
part of retiring.

Loss of Our Identity

retirement we lose our professional identity. For some people this has been
their entire persona. Their sense of self is greatly tied in with their
professional/work lives. Who they are is what they’ve been doing for all their working

“I’ve been
an accountant for 40 years, now who am I?” When we don’t have that descriptive
‘work’ word after the “I am a,” how do we fill in that blank? Who are we now
without our work?

Loss of Social Connections

During our
work years our colleagues play a big part in our lives. We spend most of our
daytime hours with them. Water cooler talk, lunch talk, work complaint chatter,
and drama all connect us socially even if our colleagues don’t become ‘real’
friends outside of work.

Loss of Purpose

Work provides
us with a reason d’etre, something to get up and go to, even if we didn’t like
the work itself. Now what are we waking up to? What is our focal point?

provides us with that big circle of life; what we connect to, what we’re doing
with our lives. We now have to re-purpose our lives and connect ourselves in a
new direction and find that guiding light.

Loss of Accomplishment and Productivity

There could
be a sense of emptiness and a void. We’re used to feeling like we’ve done
something (hopefully) useful. At the end of the day, we have something to show
for our effort and work. We now have to figure out how to get that sense of satisfaction
outside the workplace.

Loss of Structure and Routine

We don’t
have the 9–5 any longer. Now what?? We’re creatures
of habit and routine. Now there’s this open and clean slate. For many this
openness and possible void can feel quite disconcerting.

Grieve Your Loss

We need to
recognize and allow ourselves to feel the loss of a lifetime of work and all
that it entails. It’s normal and natural to feel sad, to grieve. We must give
ourselves permission to be in this state of flux for awhile and tend to
ourselves in a kind and gentle way.

Our old
carpet has been taken out from under us, but a new one will surely be put down
after we go through our shedding stage and decide which new color and quality
of carpet we’d like. Or we may decide on wood flooring instead. Either way, it
will come, with time and understanding that this is all good.

Find the Steps You Need to Take

the various emotions that come with entering a new phase of life introduce
steps that help us to figure out this next chapter.

Here are a few suggestions for step-taking along this new path.

Create a List of Favorite Activities

Think about
and write down a list of interests and things you enjoy; those you’ve put on
the back burner for a while and those things you continue to engage in that
bring you joy. Include new things you’d like to learn.

Embrace New Possibilities

Seek out
new opportunities. See it as an adventure. The world is our oyster, waiting to
be peeked into with open eyes. Seek, learn, be curious, take risks. Be open to

Seek the Things You Value

about what’s important to you, what you value, what’s meaningful and begin to
incorporate things/ideas that truly matter to you.

Look for Ways to Socialize

connected; don’t isolate. Try out new social networks. Make new friends,
connect with the old ones who may have been neglected along the way.

Mindset and Attitude Are Key

saying, “You can’t
teach an old dog new tricks
,” is an old myth. We’re primed to keep
learning as long as we believe that we Can.

This new
life phase will require some stepping out of your comfort zone. Getting
comfortable with some discomfort is growth. There’s a whole new world out there
waiting to be discovered now that you have more time and flexibility to connect
with You, your interests, and pursuits. Curiosity and a love of learning can
take us far.

So think these
3 Rs
when planning for the big R:

  • Re-imagine
  • Re-invent
  • Re-build

connect with these 3 Es:

  • Energized
  • Enthusiastic
  • Exercise

(Exercise) and Emotion are similar, as are their Latin roots. When we keep moving,
as we can, and our emotions will move within us as well. Our initial sadness will
move to hope and excitement as we uncover and rediscover our selves in our new and
next phase of life.

What does your retirement portfolio look like? What have you thought
about besides financial preparation? What will you miss the most from your
work? Do you have a specific plan of action or will you see how things unfold
and evolve? Please share in the comments below.