Retirement Myths?

When I was writing about Life Purpose recently (link here), I started to think that finding a grand Life Purpose (capital letters) might be a “Retirement Myth” meaning ideas about retirement that are not really true.  Or aspects of retirement that if you don’t implement for yourself, you feel like you’ve failed.  What other retirement myths might there be?

All retirees continue to work, at least part time.  If it is not a full-on second career, then it is a side hustle, or at least a part-time job – but you are doing something!   As I looked at the retired folks in my sphere, about 50% are actually working (part-time) for compensation. There are other ways to “work” of course – personal projects that you (or another family member) might pay others to do and volunteering are both non-compensated work.  But there’s still that 50% that have active, full days with other (non-work, non-compensated) activities!  So it’s a myth that ALL retirees continue to work.  You need to determine if it’s right for you.  It could be a way to fulfill “need gaps” created with work cessation (see link here for recent blog on that topic).  But those need gaps can be filled without a return to compensated-work, too.  Unfortunately, I do know of recent retires who struggled in filling need gaps and returned to compensated-work as a default, declaring they had “failed retirement”.

As long as you have the money figured out, retirement will be super easy to slide into. This is false myth in two ways.  Even if you have the “money figured out” the transition of income to outgo can be a challenging mental shift, especially as the economy shifts.  And then there is the slide, which for some is easy and for others, more of a challenge.  Filling 40-65 hours per week that used to be focused on compensated work can be daunting.  There are learning curves. One is learning to slow down and appreciate quiet time. Another is learning what your interests and strengths are and then doing the diligence to find and engage in activists that match them.

As a retiree, you’ll have lots of free time. After all, there’s those 40-65 hours per week that used to be focused on compensated work to fill. Surprisingly, when you start to do the activities that match your strengths and interests, life fills up quickly!  However, you can be as “busy” as you choose. I love that I have full days but don’t feel rushed. In a given week, I’ve got my exercise classes, my friendship walk or lunch dates, my craft & garden activities, at least one club meeting, a book I’m avidly reading, a project I’m working on, blogging activities, at least one planned fun activity, and life to maintain (cooking, shopping, cleaning, self-care).  I also leave time for quiet moments and hope I have the flexibility to be spontaneous.  I’m also aware that it took time to get to this lifestyle calendar – learning my interests and the diligence to create the activities that matched them. And someone else’s full calendar might look totally different!  Today’s retirees are not sitting on the couch all day with nothing to do – they are actively living life with intention.

All retirees “fill in the blank”.  All retirees regularly travel.  All retirees spend quality time with grandkids.  All retirees play golf. While I certainly know retirees that do regularly travel, spend time with grandkids, and play golf, I personally don’t do any of those things.  Recognizing that every person’s lifestyle will be unique, and not feeling like a failure if yours doesn’t match others is another learning curve!

So what is Retirement Reality? No grand life purpose, working or not as your own choice, doing the “work” to fill the need gaps left from no longer working full-time, filling your life with activities of your own choice – including time to just be.

What retirement myth have you come to recognize?

Picture credit: sunrise this week (daylight hours getting shorter, not me getting up earlier!)

24 thoughts on “Retirement Myths?

  1. My husband is preparing to retire this fall. It’s fascinating to see how he envisions what he’ll be doing– a side hustle, working on the house, reading books & then more books. We’ll see, now won’t we?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I look back at what I envisioned when i first retired and what my life is now, and …. be prepared for many transitions! I started with a side hustle, but no longer do that. I had no club activities and now belong to multiple clubs. I had no exercise routine and that’s switched up a couple of times in appearance. So, yes, you will see!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As a new retiree, my attention was grabbed by this headline. I love the last myth: any statement that starts with “All retirees…” As with any other position in life, we are all unique. We share similarities, which makes connecting with each other so rewarding, but recognizing the differences is beneficial as well. We can save a lot of time and stress by giving up the notion that there is one right way to do anything, including retirement.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Christie, that is such a strong belief (“notion”) to give up, and the world would be so much better if we could all believe there is not one right way to do anything! But as a person who lived to meet societies expectations and be the good girl, this is a work-in-progress for me. I do hope however with my blog that I do communicate there is not one right way to do retirement!

      Like

      1. Yes, Pat, I can confirm that your blog has communicated to me (and not just this post) that there is not one right way to do retirement. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I think one of the myths of retirement is that there will be a great personal revelation or transformation upon retirement. No matter where you go, there you are. I’m of the opinion that we can become more of who we are in retirement. Pre-retirement lifestyles will follow us into retirement, i.e., if life was lived purposefully pre-retirement, very likely that is how life will be lived post-retirement. That’s not to say that there won’t be an evolution with time and circumstances. I choose a positive evolution over stagnation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a great myth! No great personal revelation here, but I did work on a personal transformation. It was a choice, and took (takes) work and time – so yes an evolution, an intentional one. (evolution by design?) Maybe I am becoming more of my authentic self, but it still is a transformation – from a cynical, critical, pessimistic, workaholic to a more optimistic, flexible, accepting live-life-fully person (I hope anyway!)

      Like

  4. Nasty surprise. I found my income generated a claw back of my old age security payments $600 a month. And in order to pay my income tax I had to withdraw $ from my life income fund which took me to higher tax bracket. I have been an astute financial planner all my life. But this was totally unexpected.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Pat! You called out two of the myths I was grappling with as I prepared to retire: volunteering and spending time with grandkids. I initially felt so guilty that I didn’t have the desire to spend all my days doing these two things. But I quickly realized that I don’t HAVE TO do those things unless I WANT TO! I’m still getting settled into my retirement routines and there have been many tweaks over the last 3 months but I feel so free & light knowing I call the shots on where I spend my time 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sharon, This is exactly why I blogged about the myths! Figuring out what you want to do, after years of meeting other’s needs and expectations is not an easy task either. I can also tell you, there will be tweaks in the future as well! My retirement routines now are different than they were even just a year ago. Things have been added, others deleted. And I expect the same going forward… cause yeah, I call the shots on where to spend my time and energy!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment. Retirement is what you make it and that can take some effort. Figuring out what you truly want after years of meeting everyone else’s needs and expectations is not an easy task.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Pat, another great post. It seems to me that we are on the cusp of “retirement” changing to the more modern way the way we are actually living it beyond the myths and stereotypes, but not yet there! If you haven’t yet seen it, have a look at Vogue article about Serena Williams’ upcoming retirement from tennis. I’m hopeful “retirement” will start to take on a new definition for the way we’re actually living it!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Judi, We can hope there’s a shift coming. I remember writing an article for my college after I graduated that I entitled “I Didn’t Think I Would be a Trailblazer” about being a woman in a man’s field. That “cusp” of change lasted most of my career. Once again, I didn’t think I’d be among those changing the meaning of retirement. But yes, a 21st century retirement is very different than the myths and stereotypes!

      Like

  7. Pat, The biggest retirement myth for me was “the slide.” I had big identity issues (that I blogged about repeatedly). The first couple of years were bumpy and didn’t feel like sliding at all. Also, there was the golf myth. When I was younger, I had a boss that told me if I want to get anywhere in business I needed to play golf. I remember taking lessons in my twenties and hating it. Who has time for that? Haha! But then, retirement and I got all the golf things. I have my own set of clubs now, covered with webs and dust in the garage. Still hate it. I really enjoyed this post. Seems like you are settling in to retirement on your own terms. Tracey

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tracey, I laughed at the golf comments. I tried golf once and really didn’t find any joy in it. All retirees do not golf (nor do all successful business people!) And to be honest, I still struggle with the identity piece. I know I shouldn’t do a “compare & despair” but I noticed a good friend has “Vice Chair on XYZ Board” and “Consultant with XXX” on her email footer. What could mine say? “dabbler, synthesizer, ripple-maker”?

      Like

      1. True about the golf advice. If you want a title on your personal email footer, I think “dabbler” is fun and accurate for a lot of us. Or, your’s could say “Writer” or “Author.” I believe the board opportunities are out there for people who are passionate about their volunteerism. I considered it, but frankly it seems too much like going back to work. I love volunteering and keeping my time and schedule on my own terms.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for that bit about volunteering… came just as I was asked to take on a leadership role in one of the clubs I belong to. Gave me the confidence to say – no, I prefer to be just a willing worker when I can.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Pat, I love that as retirees we get to ‘write the script’ however we choose. I know retired couples who have abandoned home ownership to travel the world full time and others who spend all their time happily raising grandchildren. Neither of those scenarios would appeal to me.

    I think the important takeaway from your post today is to experience the ‘learning curves’ as you say and figure out the best fit for a comfortable, satisfying retirement lifestyle. It is also important to remember that life evolves and we need to evolve with it.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have enjoyed watching your retirement progression these past years. You seem more settled and contented lately. I think you have found your sweet spot!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Suzanne, thanks for mentioning your perspective on me being more settled. I do feel that, although there are still times I’m comparing myself to others (feeling less than) or hearing expectations (that are probably not there). Posts like this one I wrote help remind me that everyone’s retirement is different. There is no “normal”. And yes, life evolves. I couldn’t have imagined being here (this place we live in now, doing the things I do now) when I first retired!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Pat – I’m grateful that I’d reduced my work hours to part-time well before I retired – it made the transition easier, and the pandemic also played a part because we were all forced to slow down and be less busy. Since then I’ve adjusted my sails as needed, to try to find that balance of being/doing. Everything is fluid because life continually changes – what I like about retirement is that it allows me the flexibility to pivot where I need to and to run my life completely around my own agenda – that’s such a privilege after all those decades of accommodating other people’s needs.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Leanne, I like how you talk about the “flexibility to pivot”. I never thought of it like that but it is so true! I get a niggle feeling sometimes (comparing to others, hearing expectations) that forces me to remind myself that it is my agenda and no-on else’s. And I love my blogging community that continues to remind me that yeah – it is my own agenda!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s