While most of us say we can’t wait for retirement to be able to do all the things we’ve always wanted to do, the problem is how to fill in the thirty years or so after retirement. For some people, the prospect of giving up work creates a fear of loss of identity and loss of purpose in life, so they keep working well beyond the age when they should retire. This can create a problem for employers and co-workers who have to deal with the drop in work performance that inevitably comes with old age.
Research has shown that retirees who cease to contribute and to be productive and active, die earlier than those who continue to engage fully in society. However, being productive and active doesn’t necessarily mean continuing to work. It’s important to keep all aspects of your life in balance all through your life; that is your finances, home life, health, relationships, leisure time and your purpose in life. If work has taken priority over friendships and relationships with family, it is going to be much harder to fill the vacuum left by stopping work because relationships take time to build. If hobbies, sports and other leisure time activities have always been part of your life, it is easy to spend more time doing these things to take the place of work as a meaningful activity. A balanced working life makes the gap left by stopping work smaller and easier to fill.
Cutting back on work hours over a period of a few years is a good way to transition into retirement. It allows you to gradually fill your non-working time with other meaningful activities, to adjust your living costs gradually to a lower level of income, and to save more for your later years.