Because of increased life expectancy in the 21st century, elderly people can expect to spend approximately a quarter of their lives in retirement. Leaving one’s career is a major life change and can be a time when people experience anxiety, depression, and other negative changes in the self-concept and in self-identity. On the other hand, retirement may also serve a s an opportunity for a positive transition from work and career roles to stronger family and community member roles, and the latter may have a variety of positive outcomes for the individual. Retirement may be a relief for people who have worked in boring or physically demanding jobs, particularly if they have other outlets for stimulation and expressing self-identity.
Psychologist Mo Wang (2007) 1 observed the well-being of 2,060 people between the ages of 51 and 61 over an 8-year period, and made the following recommendations to make the retirement phase a positive one:
Continue to work part time past retirement, in order to ease into retirement status slowly.
Plan for retirement—this is a good idea financially, but also making plans to incorporate other kinds of work or hobbies into postemployment life makes sense.
Retire with someone—if the retiree is still married, it is a good idea to retire at the same time as a spouse, so that people c an continue to work part time a nd follow a retirement plan together.
Have a happy marriage—people with marital problems tend to find retirement more stressful because they do not have a positive home life to return to and can no longer seek refuge in long working hours. Couples that work on their marriages can make their retirements a lot easier.
Take care of physical and financial health—a sound financial plan and good physical health can ensure a healthy, peaceful retirement.
Retire early from a stressful job—people who stay in stressful jobs for fear that they will lose their pensions or won’t be able to find work somewhere else feel trapped. Toxic environments can take a severe emotional toll on an employee. Leaving early from an unsatisfying job may make retirement a relief.
Retire “on time”—retiring too early or too late can cause people to feel “out of sync” or to feel they have not achieved their goals.
Whereas these seven tips are helpful for a smooth transition to retirement, Wang also notes that people tend to be adaptable, and that no matter how they do it, retirees will eventually adjust to their new lifestyles.