Trading heels for tennis shoes

What do you dislike about retirement?

1. I miss my work relationships

“I was afraid I would miss the many acquaintances and co-workers that weren’t really my good friends but with whom I had a definite relationship and camaraderie. I was absolutely right to have that fear. I tried to replace them by being a member of a couple of groups, but for some reason it is just not the same…I am still working on finding the right solution.”

“The loss of what I’ll call a ‘passive social network’, which means that I have to ACTIVELY make a lot of effort to create and maintain social connections. There are many people at work that weren’t necessarily really good friends…but were still colleagues that you could chat with about what you did over the weekend, etc. “

“Feeling of being more disconnected from things. Work was both a social setting and introduced many opportunities to engage in various activities outside of work. A lot of those connections have gone away by virtue of not being in the work setting.”

“The diversity and fun that people bring are hard to match. I’ve stayed in touch with many and replaced with others, but I still miss getting to work with smart people that become friends.”

2. The “retiree” label

“… AARP publications…lump all of the retirees into a weird genre…tell me how to keep my mind active, what foods to eat, etc.. My retirement somehow doesn’t quite align with these stereotypical definitions of retirees. I feel that most of my friends don’t’ fit that mold as well and are trying to find their own identity as retirees…”

“When someone asks what I do, and I answer “retiree”, their interest seems to wane. It’s like I’m not interesting because I don’t have a job. “

3. The final phase?

“Having the attitude that retirement is the beginning of the last phase of your life. If you think of it as the last step before the Grim Reaper, it can mess up your life…It’s better to think of retirement as an opportunity to finally get it right, to do what you were meant to do…But it’s very easy to fall into that ‘final phase’ thinking…It helps to have other retirees who can keep you on track.”

“Time seems to have accelerated. The days go by so quickly not working that it is a little unnerving how fast it can all get away from you.”

4. Sense of identity

“Diminished self-worth. When working, I was continuously helping an internal customer with a problem and there was an element of satisfaction and acknowledgment with that. Being retired that environment doesn’t exist currently.”

“It took awhile to redefine my identity. It’s been nearly 10 years…but I no longer think of myself in terms of a job title. What I HAVE learned is that I still need to be doing meaningful, rewarding work on a regular basis. I have found that, as a volunteer at an animal shelter.”

“Nothing stretched my aging brain like some of the issues at work. I miss the satisfaction from finishing a big project or resolving a difficult HR situation.”

“And I think I’ve had to accept a little bit of humility-funny, I used to be the boss and I made decisions, an impact, and people listened (at least I thought they did)…now if I’m even asked, I’m just another voice in the wind, another opinion, and you know what they say about opinions!”

I appreciate the thoughtful, eloquent answers from my friends. I expected some of these answers, and I was surprised at others. Based on my own experience, I fully expected to hear that they missed people from their work life, and in fact that was the most common dislike about retirement. I thought more people would comment on the challenges of living with less income, but only one person mentioned money as an issue. I would have expected to hear more about health issues, but not a single person mentioned aches and pains, insurance or prescription drugs!

In my 6 short years of being retired, I find each year very different from the previous year. My retirement experience keeps changing, and I find myself continuing to adapt, grow and redefine myself along the way. It’s not always an easy journey, but you can see from the answers above that most people find that benefits far outweigh the negatives. And though we each have things we don’t like about retirement, I have to agree with the comment from one of my friends:

“…a bad day in retirement is WAAAAYYYYY better than a good day at the old grindstone!”

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1 Comment

  1. Miss Footloose

    April 19, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    I always love the insights and perspective of others about issues such as retirement and expat life overseas. My own challenge for making my retirement interesting and rewarding was to live in a foreign country and keep the brain cells active learning a new language and volunteering. Thank you for putting together this interesting post and I certainly recognize my own views in many of the comments.

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