wikiHow to Manage Retirement Disillusionment

Retirement is an event many people eagerly look forward to, throughout their working phase of life. However, when it comes, it often transforms itself into a dragon ready to devour the happiness out of those who yearned for it. It is all too easy to feel a sort of vacuum immediately after retirement, and to fall into a state of low self-esteem. If you are developing a sense of redundancy about yourself in retirement and feel that your skills are going to waste, it will not be long before a feeling of alienation from society and a sense of loss at not being able to use the skills you used to be respected for creeps in.

This is no way to treat your retirement. Retirement is an important transition, an important event in life that calls for celebration. So, how do you handle this transformation?


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    Treat retirement as an everyday occurrence. Suppose you retire at the age of 60 years old. Look back over the previous sixty years and ask yourself if you have not already been doing some things that had an element of "retiring" attached to them. Don’t you retire every day, at the end of the day for sleep? Looked at in this way, you have sixty years of experience retiring in some way, every day of your life. And, when you get up each day it is a chance to celebrate a new day, a new outlook on life, and to find renewed energy to make a difference in the world. There is always opportunity for change and redirection. Similarly, your retirement from a job is not an end but a transition; it is a transition from one phase of your life to a new and, with your agreement and effort, a better phase for you, both intellectually and spiritually. As such, it is a definite cause for celebration.
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    Don't feel like you're 'less' a person because you aren't working. Retirement does not make you a lesser person: You remain a highly skill- and talent-endowed person with skill sets that have grown over the many years and that have provided you with many achievements throughout the tenure of your employment or business life. When you retire, you still have those skill sets. You can now use them whenever you want, at the time you want, and in the place you want. From an employee, your status can suddenly transform to that of being an entrepreneur. That means that your skills and professional abilities are as valuable as when you were in employment, and you are your own boss and decision maker, not a follower. That's a huge positive!
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    Consider the bondage of employment versus the freedom of retirement. While for some people the security of daily employment brought not only regular financial reward but also routine, regularity and patterns, this comes at a price of being obliged to follow the rules and expectations your employer created. In addition, for many employees, it is a cause for complaint, feeling constrained but the trade-off of security, and familiarity usually wins out. For those of you for whom there were many things you wanted to do during your employment, but couldn't due to the compulsions of your employment and time constraints, retirement offers a breath of fresh air filled with opportunity. Now you can fulfill those wishes, dreams, and goals without the previous time and rule constraints of your job.
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    Avoid the trap of telling yourself you're "too old". In a world where the older population is growing increasingly large, greater acceptance of retirees taking on renewed roles in society now exists, and there is great freedom to undertake new business and work as a retiree. Telling yourself that you're too old, too poor, too worn out, etc., tends to be self-fulfilling and will trap you into giving up. Instead of giving into despair, go to the library and borrow books by people who started again upon retirement and have achieved great things. You will be inspired.
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    Use and build on the knowledge you have gained while you were working. You have a wide source of knowledge gained from your education and professional experience. Be prepared to pass on this knowledge to those who need it; there are always plenty of inexperienced people seeking to learn more from those who have great skills and knowledge. Let your knowledge reach the needy and guide the younger generation through mentoring, teaching, and sharing skills whether it's through your own business, night classes, workshops, or online volunteering. This will not only give you satisfaction, but you will also stay up-to-date with your skills because you will need to ensure you're passing on the latest knowledge.
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    Sharpen your saw. Now you have the time and accumulated resources from years of expertise, use your resources intelligently and diligently to push yourself into new learning and beyond your current comfort zone. Lifelong learning doesn't stop with retirement. Study more deeply in your area of expertise and keep learning from others, from young to old. Steven Covey mentions "sharpening the saw" in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and uses it to refer to balancing your life to ensure that what you're doing is sustainable long-term, and renews your effectiveness.[1] In doing this, you will become more mentally, spiritually, and psychologically attuned and will feel a greater sense of fulfillment during your retirement.
    • Never put down your skills as being old-school or outdated. The responsibility always rests with us to remain up-to-date when we leave educational institutions and workplaces, and with the internet, online libraries, and many free educational resources, there is no excuse for not keeping informed.
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    Do community and charity work. You can help the needy in your community by associating with civil society groups, educational groups, or even forming your own small group to teach and empower the less privileged in society. You can also work to spread awareness about pressing issues such as public health (prevention and treatment of AIDS, tuberculosis, bird flu, etc.), ways to prevent pollution, and helping people with mental health issues such as depression, low self-esteem, etc.
    • Consider working with wikis in the online environment as a way to share skills, teach, and reach out to people in an educational context. This allows you to be mobile (a laptop or iPad can go anywhere you can), and providing a great place to record your knowledge and expertise for future generations to learn from.
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    Try social networking for company and for reaching out to share information. During your employment, you may never have had the inclination or time to be a part of social networking. Now you have all the time in the world and good reason to inject your wisdom into the social network streams. Join social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and others. Many influential people from politics, films, sports, media and other fields are actively involved in the social networking and what's more, you do not need to be famous to become influential; rather, you need to make it clear that you know what you're talking about and people will soon listen and follow you.
    • Exchange notes with people in your fields of interest and develop new working relationships. You can keep abreast with all the latest happenings in all the fields including technical. You can even write articles in blogs in the areas of your expertise.
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    Get involved in something that you can make a difference in. There are plenty of pastimes, hobbies, and activities where you can continue to make astonishing contributions to the world. Think of amateur astronomers who have the time to make discoveries as amazing as those of the professional astronomers. Think about teachers who never stop teaching, healers who never stop healing, and writers who never stop writing. There is always something to contribute, especially where it concerns teaching the young and the willing.
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    Distribute happiness where ever you go. Consider the ways in which you can be an uplifting presence in people's lives. Telling people how much they matter, helping them to see their strengths and abilities, and guiding them with a smile, are just some ways you can be a source of inspiration and happiness in the lives of others.
    • If you are a person of faith and someone with deep empathy and compassion, you can counsel people in grief or who are going through rough transitions in life, such as by praying for them or simply listening to them in times of trouble. Your presence and kind talk will bring some relief for them.
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    Keep yourself engaged. Stay active for giving in to passivity and doing nothing will bring despair, helplessness, and futility into your life faster than you can blink. Engage yourself in the above activities or at least some, and rest assured, you will be very busy and hardly have any time to feel distraught or dejected. Keeping yourself engaged will also keep you mentally and physically healthy.


  • Take up activities as source of recreation and engagement and not as a substitute occupation. This will remove any sense of strain or obligation out of it and keep the enjoyment part intact.
  • Finding ways to make money from your skills is okay so long as doing so does not make you work unwillingly. Otherwise, there will be no difference between your job and your retirement. You should feel your retirement every moment of your life.
  • Think of it as financial independence. Use that phrase. People respect that and think of it as an achievement. Word choice can change both self-perception and public perception.
  • If your health problems won't let you pursue studies or a new career full time, consider going part time and taking it at your own pace.
  • "Community and charity work" sounds so nice, trivial and conservative, doesn't it? How about "Full time activist" as a redefinition? Don't use the term "Radical" though, unless your views are extreme even in today's social climate. If you are a Boomer who has seen most of what was Radical when you were young turn into "Liberal" or even "taken for granted as part of the status quo," it can mislead people and hurt your effectiveness.
  • Accept that retirement as a physical act or entity does not truly exist. It is a mindset that has been socially condoned and visited on most of the population as the "norm". If you are wise to this, you can remove the idea of inactive retirement from your mind by keeping yourself occupied and constantly staying willing to learn and grow.
  • If you're happier and physically healthier keeping a schedule similar to your working conditions, go back to that schedule. Dust off a dream that wasn't practical and make a start. If it seems to have a long learning curve, you have as much time to apply to it as a full time student supported by family who doesn't need a side job. Then when someone asks, you just grin, and say, "I'm a law student," "I'm an art student," or "I'm in seminary." Chances are somewhere around mastering the first-year basics, people who don't know the field will start treating you as a local expert.


  • Sometimes people make very unwise investment decisions that chew up their savings and force them to find ways to make money in their old age and leave them destitute and bitter. Keep an eye out for greedy people who prey on vulnerable retirees to divest them of their life's savings. Be sure that your own greed or ignorance do not land you in this position; read the fine print and always get second advice!
  • Be prepared for a change in environment at your former workplace. The people who showed you much love, respect, and obedience may not be forthcoming anymore. Understand that they have their priorities, and you are no longer one. It is no different from when you resign or get fired though, so don't sweat it.
  • Recognize that other people who are still working are not in the same period as you and do not have as much leisure as yourself. Have respect for their treatment of time. Your interaction should not disturb busy people at home or outside; find other retirees who will have the time for you.
  • Perhaps you retired too soon, hoping it would be more than it has turned out to be? If so, maybe consider returning to work until the legislated retirement age catches up with you.
  • A retired person is considered by the less astute media and person to be a person who is not coordinated with the latest trends. You have to go out of the way to prove that you are aware and complete sync with the latest happenings, so accept this challenge with relish!

Things You'll Need

  • Activities to keep you occupied
  • Stay plugged in to the world - have the internet and TV connected, read newspapers, magazines, journals, etc. Also, have good phone access so that you can contact people whenever you'd like to and they can reach you easily too
  • Social networking accounts
  • Gear for continuing new pastimes, hobbies, etc.

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