However, for some, retirement can be a source of disappointment and frustration. The Retirement Myth is a common belief that suggests that retirement is all about relaxation, withdrawal, and avoidance of challenges. Many retirees buy into this myth, and as a result, they struggle to create a truly remarkable life.
As someone who has been working with retirees for close to 30 years, I have seen the Retirement Myth play out over and over again. I have met people who were ambitious workers pre-retirement, working hard to achieve big goals. They had purpose in their days and their lives, and a mission to accomplish. They went into the world each day to learn, grow, and accomplish, and felt a palpable energy that those around them could feel too. They had strong social networks and a sense of community, doing important things and making something of themselves in the process.
Many retirees lose their spark and spirit, and forget what day of the week it is – what I call “calendar coma.” They complain of having no energy or drive, and even though they claim that retirement is great because they don’t have to set the alarm clock and have all the free time in the world to do whatever they want, some may secretly share that they miss the feeling of accomplishment and purpose, of teamwork and contribution, and how good relaxing felt after working hard. They may even miss the person they were before retirement, and feel like retirement was supposed to be something more.
With 10,000 Americans retiring each day, millions of workers fall for the Retirement Myth every year. The Retirement Myth perpetuates the idea that less responsibility is better than more responsibility, less activity is better than more activity, less effort is better than more effort, and less achievement is better than more achievement. It is a myth that retirement is the final stop along life’s journey, and that once you retire, you have arrived.
The Retirement Myth can be dangerous because it perpetuates the notion that retirees should give up their goals, what drives them, and making a difference. It is important to realize that retirement is not just a break from the daily grind of work, but a new chapter in your life that can be filled with joy, adventure, connection, and purpose.
Through my years of experience in helping clients financially plan for retirement, I have learned that those who have been able to look beyond the traditional perspective of retirement are more fulfilled and enjoy this next stage in their life more than those who get stuck in the Average Retirement mindset. While there is nothing wrong with relaxing and taking a break after years of hard work, it is important to remember that retirement is not the end of the road. If you think you just want an Average Retirement, be warned that you may wake up one day and discover that you crave more from life.