We’ve got a Name for That

Reading through different people’s transition blogs and talking with retirees, I’ve concluded that retirement transition is an amazingly individual transition.   Because you’re figuring out what you want to do next, it is all about you.   It is nobody else’s “should”!   But I’ve also realized, there are some things that many people feel.   And knowing you’re not alone in the feeling can be helpful.

If the feeling has been “named”, it indicates other people recognize what you are feeling.   Feelings are not rational. They are the emotional elements within us; the facts are secondary, or even not involved many times!   So it’s nice sometimes to know you’re not alone in the irrationality of feelings.

So here are some common ones. They are not restricted to retirement transition, but they create unique challenges in this life stage. Some of these names are well-known, but it’s nice to acknowledge that other recent retiree’s are dealing with them, too.

  • The Bag Lady Syndrome.   This seems to be among women of a certain age.   First, we never feel like we have enough money to retire. After retire, we worry the money will not last through our retirement. We worry about being a Bag Lady. How much is enough?   It’s very often not about the numbers, but rather an emotional confidence. It can prevent us from spending that hard-earned money on doing the things we always wanted to do – a barrier to living the life we want to have.
  • The Imposter Complex – It is amazing how many smart, accomplished individuals dread being exposed as incompetent. “I’m not good enough” is a common fear. And in retirement transition, when you need to learn new things or create new habits, it can be a huge barrier to start something. Believe in yourself affirmations can help – “I am good enough. My life successes to date were a result of my talents and hard work and dedication and can be reapplied to my future choices.”
  • The Good Girl Handcuffs – This could also be called “I want to stop living the should”. The good girl – doing the right things, the expected things, the pleasing others things.   And in retirement transition, you might want to break free of that “should”. The rebellious feeling can make you feel very alone. But, it’s not a new theme – “when I am old I shall wear purple” was written years ago. Go ahead & rebel!  Maybe purple hair… apparently it’s a trend.
  • The Someday Habit – This one is especially common among workaholics and/or early retirees. You got in the habit of putting off things – to save the money for retirement.   So many things are in the camp of delayed gratification – the places to go, things to learn, activities to try. “I’ll do it someday”. Now it’s a habit and breaking long-held habits is not easy! How can you move from someday to just-do-it now?


So how many of these named feelings are holding you back from your life vision?

16 thoughts on “We’ve got a Name for That

  1. I think I can fall into several of those catagories! At first I was afraid there would not be enough money to live. When I made the move I kept myself on a strict schedule fearing if I sat down very long I would turn into a couch potato only looking forward to my next doctor appointment! The second year I cut myself some slack and the journey keeps getting better!

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    1. I think I’m in the “fear mode” a bit … fear of turning into a couch potato. When I first retired and read what I should have done to prepare for retirement (the pre-planning), I got scared that I would be bored, be a couch potato and then die. My hubby tells me I do too much. But I’m liking the things I do! Trying stuff out, meeting with friends. I like your comment of cutting myself some slack though…. I’m about to enter year 3 myself and am hoping the journey continues to get better.


  2. Oh I’m definitely going to dye my hair purple! Maybe purple and pink. Maybe pink, purple and red. 🙂 Haha — clearly I’ve spent too much time thinking about this on conference calls. And I was just talking about the imposter complex with some good friends — they didn’t realize that almost ALL of us experience it at least sometimes, or maybe most of the time. It’s definitely true for me, which is completely ridiculous if I look at the facts. But facts mean nothing in the face of an emotional reaction. 🙂

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    1. Yeah, emotions overpowers facts all the time! LOL. I’ve considered a blue streak in the hair (cobalt blue) a few times…. have not had the nerve to do it! I even found temporary coloring and came so close to buying it ..but it was NOT cheap… and the Bag Lady was yelling at the Bad Girl “what are you thinking!?!”

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  3. I agree so much with the others. Another, me too, if you will. For me it was the idea of switching from “accumulation” to “distribution.” Not that we will run out of money (so says the financial advisor!), but that it’s hard to spend any of it when you’ve spent a lifetime saving it up! And we’ve both got “encore gigs” so we’re not entirely “fixed income” folks yet. Can’t imagine what THAT will be like!

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    1. I just ran that program Eric over at Mr Firestation recommended to see what living life completely in a “distribution” mode means…. and it was OK. Maybe that will calm the Bag Lady down a bit! My second career income is sparce, but that’s OK. I wanted this stage to be more about life than work…. so 10-20 hours a MONTH of work actually feels ok!


  4. Sometimes I think I must have done something wrong when I retired because it was so easy for me. My husband says that I just “slid into home base.” Funny, because I worked very hard in my career, had a lot of accomplishments, and really enjoyed my job. But, when I was ready, I was ready! I had a lot of ideas about how I wanted to spend my time in retirement and I’m enjoying exploring all the opportunities out there. I know a few “bag ladies” though and I really feel bad for them. They probably have enough money but they are too afraid to do the things they want for fear of running out.

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    1. Oh, nothing wrong… you did it RIGHT! Probably because you had “lots of ideas of how” you wanted to spend the time. My husband and you both. No mental anguish, just living each day to the fullest. Yes, I can be a bit jealous. I am working through the feelings that are holding me back from exploring all the opportunities. I believe recognizing what is holding you back is the first step; dealing with it to eliminate it is the second. So I keep telling my inner bag lady….stop worrying the money will run out, it’s FINE. (and yes, my financial advisor rolls his eyes every time I ask for another review!).

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    1. Oh Sandra, we need to get you out of the stuck mode! Recognizing the issue(s) is the first step. I see myself in every one of these descriptions … and I am working to try and overcome each one. Whether it’s a regular review of the finances (yes, every time we are FINE), or pushing myself to plan some things (I just booked a weekend away for our anniversary – first time ever), every little step helps. I encourage you to do something small! Best of luck.

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  5. Hi Pat – You have perfectly nailed so many of the emotions of the new retiree (especially The Bag Lady Syndrome). Even when the intellectual mind says otherwise, it is sometimes hard to stop the emotional side from holding you down. I totally agree that it is incredibly helpful to know that others are going through similar feelings. That is one of the things that I love best about the blogging world.
    Thanks so much for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Donna, When I put stuff like this out there, I still wonder deep inside… am I the only one? It’s so helpful to know I am not. I too find inspiration in the blogging world… especially on working through these emotional feelings that can hold me down. Whether it’s someone’s contemplating getting a tattoo (release your good girl handcuffs) or another’s latest trip to Asia (stop the someday habit), I am so inspired to live my retirement to its fullest. Thanks for sharing as well.


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