Overcoming The Fear of Retirement

worried elderly lady over laptop and papers

Most older adults have some fears of retirement — the worry about not having enough money, the idea of sitting around all day with nothing to do, or if your health will serve you.

 

In fact, for many people who do fear retirement, it’s more terrifying than death.

 

people fear retirement more than death
For many, retirement is a fate worse than death. Source: Zety

 

Even with all those fears though, retired life can be one of the most fulfilling chapters. 

 

With the right tools at your fingertips, retirement can be a time for growth, development, and self-care, especially if you’re looking to lead an active, healthy, and engaged lifestyle.

 

We’ll go over the 4 biggest fears older adults face in retirement and how to tackle them, so you can stop worrying about retirement.

 

#1 Fear of Outliving Your Retirement Savings

The biggest fear that almost half of Americans are facing is that they’ll run out of money

 

And it comes as no surprise since the risk is very real. People live longer and healthier lives which means they may need to stretch their nest eggs over more years. 

 

Our average life expectancy could increase to 115 years very soon and outliving your money suddenly becomes a legitimate fear.

 

In fact, many Americans have very little (or even nothing) saved up.

 

retirement savings

 

How to Overcome the Fear 

Have a solid plan and detailed financial plan that includes:

 

  • Social security and pension projections
  • How your home equity impacts your finances
  • Budgeting that accounts for inflation
  • Potential health care estimates

When it comes down to getting control over your money, research and plan ahead so that you can make informed decisions.

 

And if you’re looking for more tips to alleviate your fear, read about 14 ways to improve your finances in retirement.

 

#2 Fear of Your Health Declining

The idea of entering into retirement can be daunting enough — but what if you have to cope with failing health?

 

We all know that the risk of health issues increases as we age. But there is one thing older adults fear more than chronic diseases — becoming a burden to their family, a concern that supersedes the fear of dying.

 

It’s natural to think about these things and be concerned with how they will affect our retirement. But we can make choices now that can reduce those risks.

How to Overcome the Fear

While the normal aging process can have a negative impact on your physical and mental health,the good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce both your fear of future health decline and the risk itself. 

 

One very big step is to have a clear understanding of the things that are in your control vs. out of your control. 

 

aging factors you can and cannot control

 

From there, focus only on what you can control and put your effort there.

 

And our broken record mantra helps too: commitment and consistency over everything. 

 

Try your best to commit to the lifestyle you truly want. Break down your goals into mini-steps and micro-steps for real results.

 

Otherwise, you run the risk of falling into health traps where there’s a mismatch between what people say they’re going to do and what they actually do in their retired life

 

what people say before and after retirement

 

When it comes to your health in retirement, don’t be “what people say”. 

 

For more health and successful aging tips, check out our 22 activities to improve your health in retirement

 

#3 Fear of an Identity Crisis & Being Bored in Retirement

After spending decades in your role as an employee, business owner, coworker, you’re suddenly stripped away of that part of your identity. Finding meaning in the retirement process is challenging for many pre-retirees and retirees. 

 

You can expect five stages in the retirement transition process:

 

  1. Pre-retirement stage – you dream of retirement.
  2. Honeymoon stage – your freedom from work and a life of duty is liberating, new and exciting.
  3. Disenchantment stage – you feel worn out and try to fill your free time aimlessly with activities, recommendations from friends and family, but aren’t really fulfilled deep down.
  4. Reorientation stage – you drop the activities you thought you were going to like but didn’t actually enjoy and realize you need to reevaluate your life and figure out what’s best. This is where most people are just realizing finding clarity might be a good thing.
  5. Stability stage – you fully accept your retirement identity and fall into a routine.

 

Once you’ve reached the stability stage, it’s important to decide on a true identity. Otherwise, you could be feeling depressed, isolated, and miss out on your real purpose.

 

How to Overcome the Fear

Whether you’re nearing retirement or already a retiree, it’s never too late to find passions, purpose, and rediscover the meaning of life. 

 

Retirement should be a state of mind, not a chronological milestone. According to a recent study, having a positive attitude toward retirement is a predictor of life satisfaction in the golden years.

 

There’s nothing that fosters a positive attitude toward retirement (and also kills procrastination) better than having clarity.

 

Here are a few finding clarity questions to get headed in the right direction.

 

questions to find more clarity in retirement

 

And if you need some inspiration,  develop a growth mindset, stop procrastinating, and conquer your fear just like these 10 late bloomers.

 

#4 Fear of Your Spouse’s Death

Let’s be real — there’s no easy way to overcome the fear of death, whether it’s your own or your loved ones’. 

 

Grieving from the unexpected death of a loved one can have major consequences, especially for people nearing or currently in retirement. 

 

And losing your life partner is a prevalent fear in old age — almost half of older couples experience anxiety over spousal death.

 

How to Overcome the Fear

Recognize that everyone has their fears and just because you’re afraid doesn’t mean it will happen. Don’t let this fear take over your life.

 

If it does come to that, and we should acknowledge that it could, let yourself go through all the emotions in the grieving process.

 

It’s worth accepting that there’s NO rhyme or reason to the chaos that is the grieving process. In fact, it can have a cumulative effect where you feel the previous losses lumped in with a more recent one. 

 

the grief process is complicated
The grieving process is a total mess… Source: A Life Overseas

 

The same chaos applies to your anxiety and fear of death, especially someone as close to you as your spouse. 

 

Accept that it’s chaotic and that it’ll come up sporadically. If and when it does, you can focus on the things that are in your control vs. those that aren’t. 

 

Another useful tip is to double down on your gratitude. Whether it’s writing in a gratitude journal, or telling your spouse how grateful you are for them, gratitude works wonders and even reduces cortisol hormone levels by 23%.

 

how gratitude impacts cortisol production
Gratitude can reduce your cortisol hormone levels. Source: Everyday Health

 

All in all, be present with your spouse and cherish and share those amazing qualities about your spouse.

 

Handle Retirement Fears Like a Champ

It’s no secret that retirement can be a frightening time in one’s life. There are so many uncertainties and unknowns, and it can feel overwhelming to know where to start. 

 

If any of these fears sound familiar to you, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

 

The key is just to take one micro-step at a time, don’t overthink the process, and focus on what you want out of this new chapter in your life.

 

If you could use some help in determining what you want and how to get there, schedule your free Breakthrough Session with Cyn Meyer directly using this link

 

Cyn helps older adults like you every day – more specifically, she’s developed The Rewire Method that helps people find meaning and purpose in retirement.

 

How are you managing your transition into retirement?