10 Reasons Retirement is Scary and What to Do About It

If you’re within five years of retirement, you probably have sleepless nights worrying about what retirement means to you. It’s okay to admit it. My un-official research shows 99.9% of pre-retirees are worried about some aspect of retirement. My research also shows that 90% of pre-retirees don’t admit it.

It’s socially un-acceptable to admit you’re worried about retirement. To anyone not in the same boat as you, “retirement” sounds like an ideal life. Travel, do fun things, sleep in late, work on house projects, have plenty of time for grandkids and volunteer work. However, the illusion of retirement is different than reality and many pre-retirees know this or suspect it anyway.

What is it about retirement that is so scary for pre-retirees? Based on the discussions we have with our pre-retirement clients, here are my top ten reasons retirement is scary:

  1. Fear of outliving money in retirement
  2. Worries about health, health care, Medicare, and long-term care
  3. Loss of identity
  4. Decline of physical and mental capabilities
  5. Loss of a paycheck
  6. Not knowing how to manage money in retirement including taxes, RMDs, Social Security and un-expected expenses
  7. Loss of friends
  8. Loss of purpose
  9. Loss of lifestyle
  10. Fear of the unknown.

What can you do to make retirement less scary? First, allow yourself to feel un-certain. It’s normal. Transition from work life to retirement is not easy and not something you’ve done before. Acknowledge the feelings. Then, here are my top five things you can do to lessen the fear of retirement:

  • Have a plan and start early.
  • Make health and wellness a priority.
  • Have a good mindset and look forward.
  • Get help.
  • Make non-work friends.

Retirement is scary and whether or not someone acknowledges the fear, people un-prepared for retirement tend to react in one of two ways:

  1. Denial, or
  2. Scarcity (meaning they hoard their resources and spend so little in retirement they’re miserable).

Neither of there reactions will get you to where you want to go in retirement. You need to be proactive and take actions to achieve retirement success. You won’t be able to eliminate retirement anxieties entirely, but you can put those worries in perspective and not let fear rule your life.