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8 Tips for a Smooth Adjustment to Retirement

If You Find Yourself Struggling to Adjust to Retired Life, You’re Not Alone

Most of the advice surrounding retirement planning pertains to the financial aspects, like creating reliable income streams and devising a Social Security strategy. These are certainly crucial planning considerations, but there’s more to retiring than making smart money moves. After all, leaving the workforce after several decades represents a major life transition, and many retirees struggle with the adjustment to retirement and finding their “new normal.”

So, if you’re newly retired or you will be soon, know that it’s fairly typical to face a few unexpected challenges. The tips below are designed to help ease your anxiety and stress about this life change and enjoy a smooth adjustment to this new phase of life instead.

1. Expect Emotional Ups and Downs

Big life transitions bring a rollercoaster of emotions that are often heightened by both excitement and fear of the unknown. For many retirees, this new phase of life feels like freedom. However, after the novelty wears off, you may find yourself dealing with feelings of loss and a lack of direction instead. You may even begin to feel regret or anxiety about retiring before you were ready. You might also struggle with boredom now that your responsibilities have significantly decreased.

Whatever you’re feeling, it’s imperative that you let yourself experience the feelings rather than trying to bury or ignore them. Give yourself space to feel excited or sad or bored, and find peace knowing that it’s completely normal for you to go through these stages of emotion. You’ll want to find positive coping strategies to deal with these highs and lows, whether that’s picking up a new hobby, taking up a form of exercise or meditation that helps center you, or joining a club that helps keep your spirits up. Whatever coping strategy you choose, expect that some days will be easier than others – and that’s okay.

2. Implement Some Structure

Chances are your workdays followed a schedule that you could depend on. After years of having a set routine, the sudden change of not needing one anymore can be incredibly jarring. This can be especially true if you’re a creature of habit who finds comfort in routine. Just because you’re retired, though, doesn’t mean that you can’t create a new schedule and routine to help structure your time. It may take some trial and error to find what works for you, but the process itself is a great opportunity for self-discovery.

Aim for a balance between implementing enough structure to feel settled but without the stress that came along with your working life. It may help to buy a calendar or planner, or download an app on your phone, where you can schedule your weeks ahead of time. You certainly don’t have to fill each day, but even something as simple as eating meals at the same tome every day is a great way to begin adding the structure you may be missing.

3. Set Goals

Most of our working life is measured by milestones – like getting that promotion or saving a certain amount. However, once you retire, it may feel like there’s nothing left to aim for. To give yourself a sense of purpose, be intentional about setting s few goals for yourself. Maybe you want to exercise every day, or finally learn to play the piano. Your goals don’t need to be lofty; setting even very small ones can go a long way in instilling you with confidence and a sense of accomplishment throughout your retired life. Whatever goals you come up with, write them down and put together a basic plan to achieve them. 

4. Invest in People

For many people, work involves building close relationships with other people, or at least interacting with others on a daily basis. When you’re no longer surrounded by coworkers, clients, or customers each day, it’s easy to begin feeling isolated – or even lonely. When you no longer have a built-in social network, you may have to put in more effort than you’re used to in building and maintaining interpersonal relationships and a social circle.

So, what can you do to keep your friends and family close? Try scheduling regular meetups or check-ins. If you want to meet new people, consider joining a neighborhood walking group or a book club. Whatever it is that you choose to do, having a strong social support system around you will help make retired life more fulfilling.

5. Consider a New Take on Work

Just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you have to stop working altogether. In fact, taking up an encore career can help to give your retirement more structure and meaning, while also providing you with supplemental income. It can be incredibly rewarding to find a part-time position – or even volunteer work – in an industry you’ve always been interested in or that aligns with your passions. So, if you’re feeling restless, consider getting back out there into the working world on a limited basis.

6. Update Your Budget

Retirement doesn’t just bring about a change in lifestyle, but it also introduces a significant change in your finances, as well. No matter how diligent you were in planning and saving for retirement, it’s still important to review and revise your budget to ensure that you’re not overspending. Begin by factoring in your monthly bills, and be sure to consider that your budget for spending and entertainment may need to be larger than it was previously. At the same time, you may be reducing your spending in areas like work wardrobe or your commute. Whatever the changes, implementing a budget that accurately represents your financial situation in retirement will help keep you on track and free from financial stress.

7. Get Involved in Your Community

If you’re looking for a meaningful way to fill your time and add structure to your days – while gaining more social interaction, too – volunteering with a community organization might be a great move for you. Studies show that volunteering can enhance your mental, emotional, and physical health, as well.

8. Show Yourself Grace

Above all else, be patient with yourself in your adjustment to retirement. Major transitions are never easy, so don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t feel comfortable in this new phase right away. Show yourself grace, try new things, and get to know what makes you feel the happiest and most fulfilled.

Creating a Smooth Adjustment to Retirement

No two retirements look the same, and you can shape yours into whatever feels most meaningful and gratifying to you. Remember, you may face a few challenges as you adjust to this new phase of life, but the growing pains won’t last forever. Use the tips above as you’re adjusting to retired life, and soon you’ll be enjoying the retirement of your dreams.


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Retirement is a major life transition, and there’s more to think about than just your finances. Use these tips to overcome common challenges retirees face and create a smooth adjustment to this new phase of life.

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