Retirement: Why do some struggle and others just thrive?

by Wendy

That is the BIG question, isn't it? Sandy, a reader, asked me privately " Why do some struggle and others just thrive?

I replied that I really don't know, despite watching retirees retire for over 30 years now, asking questions, and I still don't quite get it.

WHY can some people walk out that retirement door, and never look back, going along happily in life without regrets, no second thoughts, or wishing they could work again?

WHY do so many others struggle?

  • Why do we wish we could work in that great job again?

  • Is it because the grass is always greener and we've subconsciously forgotten the stress and negatives of the job itself?

  • Is it based on the job itself -- if you were unhappy, you were thrilled to leave and thrive in retirement. But those who struggle were happy in their work, feeling in control, helping others, providing feedback and being a productive member of society while working for the greater good?

  • Is it simply the lack of purpose and something meaningful to do after retirement? Something that matters to the world?

    Please, Retirees, I am asking for your two cents below. Think of your own retirement, or specific friends and family... why do you think they Struggled or Thrived in Retirement?

  • Comments for Retirement: Why do some struggle and others just thrive?

    Click here to add your own comments

    Pre-retirement Planning
    by: Tina

    Age discrimination, layoffs, bullying are alive and well in corporate America. They give no guarantees that the job will even be there.

    That's why it is so important that you plan for the next phase of life. It is a process, a journey. It takes time and energy, but it is so worth it. If you lose or quit your job, it won't be such a shock!

    Most of us are not used to looking at what it is that we want to do after the job. Many of us want to keep working or contributing. It takes you to focus on what it is you are called to do, your purpose!

    Retired and Loving it!
    by: Carol, Meadville, PA

    When I walked away from my job 4 years ago, I skipped down the sidewalk and never looked back.

    From the day I got married my husband and I worked and planned for our retirement. We raise AQHA horses on a small scale, have 35 acres and 3 dogs. We built our log home years ago, barn etc. and every day we wake up healthy and happy and thankful to be retired!

    I think alot of happiness comes from planning ahead!

    There will always be bumps in the road of life, but keep on truckin' to your retirement goals!

    Retirement struggles
    by: SANDI

    I retired recently,the first mo. was great. Now I'm looking for something that gives abit of meaning to my life.I read, clean ,exercise but I'm just not feeling it.

    It's great to be able to do things on my schedule and risk, get enough, sleep ,but thought it would different.Any good tips for me ?

    Energy & health
    by: Anonymous

    I loved teaching for 32 years and after 17 Months of retirement I would love to have the energy to continue because it was what I did really well.

    But I don't have the energy to be that active now, so I can become depressed, or I can find a way to participate on a part time basis. It is a daily choice.

    Mental adjustment needed, counseling helps.

    by: Linda C., Annapolis, MD

    I wrote once or twice already on some of things I do to keep busy or amused, but basically....I love not having to do anything I don't want to!

    Doesn't anyone else think it's lovely to wake up each day and know that most every day, you can do whatever you please!

    If you want to watch grass grow - go ahead! If you want to be a couch potato, why not? Or if you want to do something silly without criticism....go for it! :)

    Most employ I had, I hated. Even if the job had some rewards, there were always unfair bosses/managers; nasty co-workers....often I would be in tears in the ladies' room or breaking down once home and dreading the following day!

    So to me...being retired is like being a kid again in Summer - School's out! but now year-round! All I have to do is general housecleaning, laundry, and deciding what my husband and I will have for dinner! (Oh, and tending to our precious dog)!

    If I get lonely for human interaction, I drive downtown and sit in or outside a café, and strike up a conversation with locals or tourists!

    The only thing I miss about retirement is not knowing other retirees like myself:

    Struggle vs thrive
    by: Linda/Atlanta

    I think Elna Nugent is exactly right. I retired at 60 a little over a year ago; single female. I'm into my second year of retirement at age 61. First year was full of travel, reconnecting and liberation.

    This second year has been a bit more challenging although I am busy, social, athletic, and I volunteer.

    I found that self exploration is making it all work for me. We are very much insulated by work and other traditional obligations. Once those obligations and structures were gone, I needed a guide to help me understand how to be me!

    It's working and I am moving forward.

    Great insights
    by: Sandy/Rochester

    The responses to this question are so helpful to many of us in the "transition" stage or who may have unknowingly used work to shape our lives or become our "purpose".

    If only I had thought of all these things before, but here I am now. So, I learn from others such as you that it is about the journey - not the one that has taken me to this place, but the one that will shape my future.

    Thanks for the comments! Keep them coming; it helps us all.

    Struggles vs challenges
    by: Elna Nugent, Lenox, MA

    Dear Wendy:

    It seems as if the struggles, tragedies, difficulties and
    challenges of life keep us alert, alive and learning. Daily comfort and ease is only enjoyable for a while. Then it get humdrum.

    I think the distractions of a challenging job and work keep us from facing ourselves. It seems as if we run daily away from discovering ourselves. Our work gave us our personal ID. But then what?

    Getting to know and understand ourselves is critical to gaining meaning in our lives. We are here for a reason.

    I think all of us should probably go to a counselor after six weeks into retirement. We often need help especially men who don't really enjoy finding out what makes us tick. But it can be such an interesting exploration if you have a guide. I didn't do it because it didn't occur to me. But I think it should almost be a given when we leave our daily work in retirement.

    Retirement Mindset
    by: Ricardo

    One might ask the question "to struggle or not to struggle", that is the question at hand.

    My thought would be that there is a natural structure to any given position or service that we provide during our working years, it is already established OR, we establish it as we travel thru our working years. We may all have had numerous positions over the years, BUT they all had parameters that were already in place when we took the position...."things" we were expected to carry out to fulfill the position.....a job description if you will!

    Well, along comes the retirement years and there really are no "rules" or "guidelines", or job descriptions to follow.....we are on our own with often times NO direction what so ever, and we falter, we do not know where to turn or who to turn to because we always had that "job description" mindset during our working years.

    Now, we must discuss why some adjust readily to their retirement years and others not so much. One thought might be that from a very early age we develop independent thought processes, we think outside the box so to speak.

    We are planners that are always looking for solutions to any problem or challenge that might come our way. We are not dependent on others, BUT, challenge our own destinies. In other words we are motivated to find solutions at ANY given time in our lives.

    Retirees with the aforementioned attributes in this writers opinion, are the survivors regardless of WHAT is thrown at them in life, they will find a way to survive that challenges them, as they have done their entire's just in their D.N.A.

    The survivors are the ones adaptable to change, the ones are struggling with retirement perhaps have struggled their entire lives with various issues. We ALL recall the song some years back.....Only the Strong Survive.

    In your retirement years, often one must learn to reinvent is NOT going to fall out of the sky into your lap!

    post retirement
    by: mildred/tn

    I think when u r employed your days r planned out for u. U do not have to think about your reasons for getting up and getting dressed.. Then when u retire it is up to u to make your own bucket list,to do your own planning,to motivate your self.Recently I have posted a sign that I can see constantly that says"No matter how u feel-get up, dress up, show up , never give up" This has helped me to get motivated..

    Retirement Question
    by: Joe W.

    Retirees need to find a purpose that they are passionate about. Start with your health and wellness. Then, you must have the desire to take some risks. And, finally you need to be open to learning new things.

    Joe W.

    Thrive in Retirement
    by: Anonymous

    I am firmly convinced that happy retirements are made by doing volunteer work that helps others.

    My husband has been retired for thirty-eight years. He still does what he can to help others. Most of his help is for me for I am lame and he can still walk briskly at 103.

    Occasionally he has a chance to help others and is delighted to do so.

    Click here to add your own comments

    Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Write Your Own Story Here (others can provide feedback).