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How to Feel Fulfilled During Retirement

Retirement is one of life’s major changes. And like other big changes in life, there are many potential pitfalls that can threaten a successful retirement.

This significant milestone can be a mixture of emotions that fall somewhere between anticipation and apprehension. This next stage in your life requires you to be ready both financial and emotionally.

And while you may have spent plenty of time financially planning for retirement, you may not have spent enough time emotionally preparing for this phase.

So, to help you be better prepared for this next big step in life and avoid missing out on enjoying a fulfilling retirement, here’s a look at the common emotional pitfalls of retirement and how to combat them.


The Emotional Pitfalls of Retirement

Retirement marks a big change in your life. And as with any big change, it takes some time to adjust. In the meantime, you may experience some emotional challenges, which are completely normal.

Having an understanding of the emotional obstacles people often experience during retirement can help you overcome them and have a more fulfilling retirement.

Here are some of the most common emotional pitfalls people experience in retirement.


Existential Questions

Questions such as “Who am I?” and “What is my purpose?” often arise during retirement. Since we identify ourselves by what we do in our careers, when we no longer have a job to go to every day, this loss of identity can lead to these existential questions.

Decreased Self-Esteem

A sense of inadequacy can come from losing your sense of purpose in retirement. This feeling can be heightened if you were forced to retire early and were not emotionally ready. It can also take a toll on your self-esteem.

This feeling of inadequacy and that you have lost your purpose in life can eventually lead to depression if not addressed.

Loss of Work Routines & Socialization

We get accustomed to following the same routine and seeing the same people every day. So when retirement comes around, this loss of a daily routine of going into work and socializing with colleagues can make retirees feel lost and isolated.

Change in Relationships at Home

Retirement can be similar to getting married and having children in the sense that it can cause a significant shift in relationship dynamics at home. When both partners are used to having their own space, spending all their time together in retirement can be a big adjustment.

Heightened Sense of Mortality

When retirees put their careers behind them and start this new chapter in their lives, it can remind them of their own mortality, even if they still have 30 or more years to go.

Retirement marks the end of your working life, so it’s normal to feel a sense of loss and heightened mortality during this transition.

How to Ease into Retirement and Avoid the Pitfalls

If you find yourself experiencing any of the emotional pitfalls that are common in retirement, follow these tips to help you overcome them and transition into a happy, fulfilling retirement.


Give Yourself Some Time

Adjusting to retirement is a process that takes time—it doesn’t happen overnight. So don’t pressure yourself to settle into your new life right away. And don’t be hard on yourself if you haven’t adjusted within an expected timeframe.

Your emotions will change from day to day, and eventually, you’ll get into the groove of your new lifestyle.

Build Your Psychological Portfolio

While you may have spent years preparing for retirement in terms of building a financial portfolio, you may not have spent much time emotionally preparing for retirement.

Building a psychological portfolio refers to building a sense of purpose in retirement, and includes your identity, routine, and relationships. So try to build your identity in retirement and find a sense of purpose, a new routine, and new experiences to enjoy with friends.

Be Social: Get Out There!

Spending time with friends helps reduce stress and makes for a more fulfilling retirement. So make time to connect with friends, or get out there to meet new friends. Joining groups and classes are great ways to meet new people with shared interests while enriching your mind and staying active.


Exercise is beneficial for both your physical and mental health. Regular exercise has been proven to reduce stress and boost your mood with endorphins and serotonin. And as an added bonus, it will help you stay in top shape to fight off illnesses.

So, if you feel the grip of anxiety or depression during the transition to retirement, combat these negative emotions by getting active.

Find Yourself a Hobby

Think about how you’d like to spend your free time. Maybe you’d like to try something new. Or perhaps you want to continue doing something similar to the work you did during your career.

There are many options for hobbies that are fulfilling, stimulating, and that will give you a sense of purpose in retirement—while also providing an excellent opportunity to make new friends and stay active.

While it’s quite normal to feel a myriad of emotions when adjusting to retirement, it’s important to find ways to overcome these feelings and work toward enjoying a happy and fulfilling life while retired.

So, whether you are recently retired or still preparing for this next major milestone, following these tips will help you to stay healthy, active, and most of all, happy, so you can live your retirement with a sense of purpose.