Retirement is a significant landmark in the life of the average person. We’ve committed our eighty-thousand hours (or thereabouts), and we’re due to transition, if not to a life of leisure, then to a life where we don’t spend quite so much of our time on ‘productive’ pursuits.

Many retirees end up disappointed. They imagine that it might be wonderful to have a holiday that effectively lasts for the remainder of their lives. But in practice, the absence of paid work doesn’t equate to a life spent sitting around ‘re-charging’ in the same way that we might do when we’re on annual leave.

It’s quite common to feel useless and bored, if you haven’t yet emotionally adjusted to the imminent change. The best way to avoid this feeling is to think about your retirement, and the emotional impact it’s going to have, several years before it actually arrives.

What emotions can I expect?

Many retirees experience a predictable emotional journey. There’s pre-retirement, when you’re feeling apprehensive, or perhaps excited, about what’s coming. There’s the honeymoon period, when you feel as though you have all the time in the world available. Then there’s the disappointment that comes from realising that your retirement dreams might not pan out quite as you’d like them. Following that, you’ll reorient yourself to what retired life really is, before finally settling into some form of emotional stability.

How can I prepare?

Now that you know all of this is coming, you can a little bit of preparation to lessen the impact.

Readjust your Expectations

It’s much easier to revise your expectations before retirement actually arrives than it is to do it after you’ve been disappointed, or made to feel depressed or lonely. Think of these problems as challenges to be overcome, and think about how you’re going to do it ahead of time. You might imagine your retired self as another person on whose behalf you’re planning.

Pick up a Hobby

If you’ve always wanted to take up a hobby, whether it’s oil-painting, heavy-metal drumming, or woodworking, then your retirement provides a great opportunity. Having a long-term project that’s not paid work will help to provide your day with structure and purpose. Ideally, your retirement might go on for decades – which is plenty of time to round off any unfinished business. You might enjoy your hobby so much that you decide to monetise it.

Get your finances in order

If you’re experiencing financial uncertainty before your retirement actually arrives, then it stands to reason that you won’t have such a wonderful time with it. There are many ways of giving yourself certainty, but for many retirees, equity release is the most popular route to travel.