Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

Aging

The Psychological Investment in Retirement

Your bank account is ready for retirement. Are you?

Key points

  • Retirement is the perfect time to embrace the person you want to be and enjoy the things you’ve always wanted to do.
  • To create this life, you have to be willing to emotionally invest in your personal growth and development.
  • Engaging in psychological growth and development before retirement is the best strategy to find deep and lasting meaning in life.
Aaron Burden/Unsplash
Source: Aaron Burden/Unsplash

Whether you’re still actively working or retirement is just around the corner, chances are you’re familiar with the sage advice of the financially savvy to start saving early and be consistent with your financial investments. Even just a little bit of money put away from an early age sets you up for the best-cushioned retirement.

The Psychological Realities of Retirement

All good. But what typically gets overlooked is preparing for the psychological realities of retirement. Few people consider the consequence of walking away from a life and routine that has likely defined them over many decades of life.

In fact, many people find themselves struggling when they no longer have to get up and go to work every day. And the number one thing they struggle with, research shows, is finding consistent, genuine, and lasting meaning. No longer working, many people lose a sense of purpose and an identity. They find it hard to enjoy the richness of life that could come with this new chapter.

Retirement is the perfect time to embrace the person you want to be and enjoy the things you’ve always wanted to do. Successfully transitioning into retirement requires you to spend considerable time beforehand learning about your emotional self. It’s the number-one strategy to find deep and lasting meaning in your life.

Engaging in psychological growth and development before reaching retirement is like purchasing a Lightning Lane Fast Pass before you get to Disney World. You only have so much time to enjoy the theme park; why waste a single minute of your time stuck in line? Retirement is literally the opportunity of a lifetime—the chance to dispense the wisdom that you’ve accrued all these years—while having the freedom and prosperity to do so in whatever manner calls to you.

Many people feel that they have to be measurably productive to be worthy, relevant, or meaningful. They have a difficult time relaxing, especially if their time off doesn’t result in something tangible. Instead of being relaxed by a break, they feel more anxious, depressed, or worthless, viewing their freedom more as a stressor than as something earned.

Your Retirement Sweet Spot

You will have fully worked your way into retirement—hit your retirement sweet spot—when you don’t feel pressure to be productive or to stay active for the sake of producing outcomes. When that moment comes, you are not living your life to seek approval from someone or something outside of yourself. You are organically moving toward those people and things that truly capture your interest and deliver meaning in your life, and away from people and experiences that do not.

At that point, satisfaction arises from a sustainable, invisible, internal source that never runs out.

And that is what retirement is really all about—beginning to live the life you’ve always dreamed about. To create this life, you have to be willing to emotionally invest in your personal growth and development. Starting the necessary self-exploration early allows you to “skip the lines” and immediately dive into the life you’ve worked so hard to create.

Learning about who you really are and how to sustain the best version of yourself before you dive into the major life transition of retirement allows you to attract deep meaning into your life.

For many, retirement spans a quarter to a third of life, so why not equip yourself with everything you need (depth, authenticity, satisfying relationships, joy, wisdom, energy, an extensive collection of emotional tools to right yourself when you get off course ) to deeply engage in and enjoy this part of your life?

Just as you start financially saving for retirement in advance, psychologically investing early in discovering what truly brings you meaning is wise. Beginning the exploration of who you are in a foundational way at least 10 to 15 years before your planned retirement is ideal. This way, you’ll be fully equipped to enter this phase of your life psychologically strong.

advertisement