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Avoiding Retirement Claustrophobia

Avoiding Retirement Claustrophobia

August 04, 2022
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Retirement is supposed to be a time of increased freedom and happiness. After all, when you no longer need a job to provide your living, you can pursue the things you never had time for before.

However, for many people, the thought of retiring brings anxiety.

A recent survey by the job site Zety found that a majority of respondents were anxious about multiple aspects of retirement:

  • 87% feared having a lack of income
  • 73% had fears about medical coverage
  • 71% were worried about keeping mentally active
  • 64% feared they couldn't be physically active
  • and half were not looking forward to losing the social ties they enjoyed through work

The survey found this apprehension so prevalent that 47% of respondents said they feared retirement more than poor health. And 40% even said they feared retirement more than death.1

One of the biggest sources of fear is the unknown. And it's entirely natural to be afraid of making a major life change when you don't know much about what's going to happen on the other side.

Additionally, while retirement is potentially a time of unmatched freedom, it also marks the end of a number of things people have relied on for most of their adult lives: a paycheck, health coverage provided by an employer, and socializing with people at work. To lose any of these without an adequate replacement would be difficult for anybody.

Robert Laura, an expert on wellness in retirement, says that for some people, heading into their post-career life can be as panic-inducing as having a medical procedure like an MRI.2

Laura recalls that when he first experienced this diagnostic procedure, the people at the imaging clinic gave him almost no preparation for the anxieties he might experience. They basically handed him a panic button and slid him into the tube. Laura says that there's not much that scares him. But almost immediately he hit the panic button to get out.

"I wasn't told to close my eyes or put something over my eyes," he said, "and I wasn't offered music or anything familiar to comfort the situation."

It wasn't enough to be told that the MRI was vital to protecting his health or that nothing in the tube could harm him. Fear often isn't very rational.

In the same way, it's important to acknowledge the fears you might have about retirement and address their causes. If you fear some of the things on the Zety list, then have a plan for replacing and even going beyond the things you will give up when you're no longer working.

I have guided many people through this transition and can provide you with a plan and the kind of realistic expectations that can help remove the fear.