Retirement is one of the most challenging transitions we experience during our lifetime. Retiring from one's career, early or late, does not need to be traumatic or lead to deterioration in the physical or mental spheres, as is often predicted. Distress following retirement results from some individuals' failure to stay in contact with the world in a meaningful way, and to solve the problems posed by that lack of contact.
In order to effectively cope with the challenges of retirement, you have to be comfortable with the concept of play as an important and vital part of human life. Thus, well before you reach retirement age, it is essential that you inventory those activities in the past that have given you pleasure, as well as consider other activities in which you may not have participated, but have desired to try someday.
In addition to fun, many people still want to be productive and useful citizens during retirement. As you approach retirement age, it can be helpful to explore such opportunities as volunteer work, enrollment in adult education courses or even college or graduate study, or experiment in fields of work far removed from your past career. Part-time employment is another option.
How can people make this transition as smooth as possible? The most important idea is that of planning for the transition ahead of time. Too many people assume that having an abundance of free, unstructured time will magically create a feeling of joy. Those who have the most satisfying retirements have put a lot of thought into how they will use their time. They have set up plans for each of the following areas: