5 things men need to know about retirement
Not all men are the same, of course, but there are some generalisations that fit most of us men. Here are five things men need to know about retirement.
1. Loss of identity
Men, particularly, find at least part of their identity in their work. And, if their job is demanding or is their passion, it can become all-consuming. Retirement takes this away.
When I retired I figured that I would have it all together. I’d finished writing my book Retirement Ready? so surely my transition to retirement would be easy.
And I’d planned well—to the point of delaying a holiday so I could get into routine before we went away. But that didn’t take away the feeling that I had to work out who I was. It took a few months for me to adjust to my new circumstance.
If you need to make the adjustment, allow yourself the time to do that.
2. Loss of friendships
Men tend to be loners more than women. Most women have a wide circle of friends in the community as well as in the workplace. For men, it can be limited to the workplace.
While some people, male and female, are naturally loners—preferring the living room to the ballroom, as psychologist Jonathan Cheek puts it—there are huge advantages to being connected to people.
For instance, it not only leads to a better social life, there are health benefits. The connectivity helps you from isolating yourself. If this is you, joining a club can be a solution.
3. You may do some man cave time
This is a man thing popularised by the book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. We men sometimes need to retire to our cave to get our thoughts sorted. It may only mean not being present as you withdraw within yourself, or it may mean literally going to your shed or office.
Women mostly don’t understand cave time and can worry that something is wrong when you’re simply sorting things in your head. If you’re married, don’t forget to send a message from the cave that you’re OK and that you’re OK as a couple.
She needs to know that there’s no threat to the relationship.
Then, when you come back from the cave, share what you’ve been thinking through. This clears the air and allows her to understand what you’ve been working on. That’s also healthy for the relationship.
4. You don’t have to be grumpy
Grumpy Old Man is a title some retirees wear with pride—as a T-shirt even. I think it’s a joke. I hope it’s a joke.
It’s easy to be grumpy. I remember catching up with a retired mate. The conversation turned to where we had worked together and how things had changed.
The more we talked the more we wondered if those in charge had gone out of their minds. That’s when he stopped the conversation and said, ‘We’re beginning to sound like angry old men.’
We changed the subject.
When you leave your workplace things will change. New brooms sweep differently. You won’t be asked for advice. You won’t be kept in the loop. Decisions made can seem wrong. It isn’t your problem anymore.
Of course, there’s a lot more to be angry about than what’s happening in your old workplace. But there’s no need to be grumpy. Put that on your list to avoid for when you retire.
And, speaking of avoiding things—grumpy people are avoided.
5. You’re only a has-been if you think you are
Someone may call you a has-been, but that’s not something you need to wear unless you believe it or act it out yourself. One way to counter this is to make sure you have a strong and workable retirement plan.
Think of it this way: Being a has-been is about what you have been. It’s about what you have retired from. The question is: What have you retired to? That’s part of who you become in retirement.
It’s worth the thought and effort—and the planning—to be who you want to be in retirement.
Gail Sheehy, in Understanding Men’s Passages, writes about men, ‘Life offers many rich and varied seasons through the forties and fifties and into the sixties and seventies and can still be active and productive in the eighties, even the nineties—for those who find new channels to express their passion and who feel they are making a difference.’
You’re not a has-been if you have passion and are making a difference.
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