With the ever-changing economy, more and more Americans are facing the reality of early retirement. It can be frustrating and terrifying when an event you have spent your whole life preparing for does not happen as planned—but, as with all of life’s unexpected occurrences, the show goes on. With an open mind and a generous amount of flexibility, you can learn to adjust to the changes of sudden retirement.
Allow yourself time to process your situation
1: A time of self-reflection
If retirement has come to you quickly and out of the blue, it can be difficult to come to terms with your new situation. Whether it is you or your spouse who has recently retired, you are likely experiencing a range of emotions and fears. Allow yourself to be okay with and accept these feelings as they come, and do not try to fight your natural reactions. Adjust your mentality and accept that you are human and imperfect—and that it may take some time before you feel at peace with things.
2. Evaluate your future
If retirement came years earlier than planned, your present and future may both look significantly different than how you had anticipated. Take this time to evaluate and plan for what lies ahead, taking both your needs and wants into consideration. Do not be afraid to adjust or to deviate from what you had originally prepared for—instead, use this chance to build a better and more meaningful future.
3. Take charge of your finances
Sudden retirement can severely alter the financial plan you had for the later years of your life. Together with your spouse, family, or friends, take a serious look at your current financial situation and how it will affect your plans for the future. With the knowledge you have now, determine the best ways to adjust your spending and savings habits in order to be financially secure down the road.
4. Make new goals
With the changes early retirement brings, it is easy to become lost or discouraged. Rather than giving into the feelings of sadness and uncertainty, make your adjustment into retired life one that is smooth and full of hope. Use this time to determine the person you want to become, and make new goals for the future. Focus on what lies ahead instead of what lies behind—and you will find yourself looking forward to all your new opportunities.
5. Take care of yourself
The shift from working life to retirement is significant, and the changes can take their toll in a variety of ways. During this period of adjustment, make taking care of yourself a top priority. Eat well and often, get plenty of sleep, and do not disregard your mental health. If you are prone to anxiety and/or depression, take extra care to work with your doctor or therapist closely during the early stages of your retirement. Do not use the changes in your lifestyle as an excuse to give up on taking care of your body and your mind—there is much you will need them for in the future!
6. Nurture your relationships
As you cope with the feelings and changes accompanying your new retirement, it can be tempting to withdraw from loved ones and isolate yourself. Even when your negative emotions are at their most overwhelming, remember that you have a support system of people who love you and who want the best for you. Put in the time and the effort required to nurture the relationships with those who matter most, and you will be amazed at the love you feel.
7. Focus on your marriage
If you and your spouse are facing sudden retirement together, you will each bring unique fears, stresses, and perspective to your situation. While you focus on adjusting to your new lifestyle, remember to not let your marriage fall by the wayside. Support one another during this trying time, and do not lose sight of the things that are most important to you. As you work through your challenges together, your marriage will be strengthened and your stamina increased.