Plan for retirement beyond the numbers
Plan for retirement beyond the numbers
By Anita Manning, Special for USA TODAY

Aaah, retirement. Time to catch up on reading. Time to work on the golf swing. Time to clean out that horrible closet and rearrange the kitchen cupboards. Time … time … time.
Hmm. Now what?

Retirement can be the best of times or the worst of times. What can make the difference, says psychologist Nancy Schlossberg, is planning.

Most people who plan for retirement focus only on their financial portfolio, but they should pay as much attention to their "psychological portfolio," says Schlossberg, whose new book, Revitalizing Retirement: Reshaping Your Identity, Relationships, and Purpose, was published in February by the American Psychological Association.

Q. What is a psychological profile?
A. Retirement challenges your identity, changes your relationships and may leave you feeling rootless. These three components — identity, relationships and purpose — make up each person's psychological profile

Q. Are some people better prepared, emotionally, for retirement than others?
A. The lucky few are those who know exactly what they want to do. (They) start playing around with ideas in advance — how will they identify themselves? What gives them purpose? What will their new mission be?

Q. What steps can people take to get ready?
A. Maybe this is the time to join a volunteer organization, church group or community group and start making new friends or organizational ties. If you're thinking, "When I retire, I'm going to move to Florida," take your vacations there so by the time you move there, you know a few people. Is there something you've always wanted to do? Take a course and try it out. You have the same issues as the football player, the roofer, the lawyer, when you retire. There are ways you can begin to prepare. Retirement is just a continuation of your career development. Get involved. Engage in life.

Q. How can people combat loneliness?
A. Make a conscious effort to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. Some people move to retirement communities with active social programs. Others take on new jobs or volunteer activities that are both satisfying and fun. One woman got together with friends to plan a Boomer party. Getting together regularly to plan the party was in itself rewarding. Fun provides relief, distraction from negative reality, bonding with others and a way to survive in troubled times.

Q. What are some of the unexpected pitfalls of retirement and how can people prepare for them?
A. Relationships change. Former colleagues may not return your calls, and the relationship with your spouse or partner can be dramatically altered. I cannot tell you how many women, more than men, complain about being in the same place all day with their spouse. Couples may need to negotiate ground rules. One retired man was shocked to learn that his wife didn't want to spend every day with him. "As they say," he said, "for better or for worse, but not for lunch."

Q. What do we need most for a happy retirement?
A. We need to matter. It is important for people to believe that they count in others' lives. The loss of the challenge of the work itself, the relationship with colleagues, the connection to an environment, an office to go to, and the daily routines can leave people wondering whether they matter anymore. We all need to figure out ways to bolster our own sense that we count.


Overcome fears
of retirement planning. Read books and make notes about new ways to think about your future.

Talk to retirees

to explore possible new activities and how to get involved in them.


how you'll deal with your health and spiritual needs as you grow older.

Identify roadblocks

and brainstorm ways to overcome them. Talk with friends, read a book or join a support group, but do something.

Keep a diary.

You'll see if there is a disconnect between what you want to do and how you actually spend your time.


where to focus your energy. Uncover your passion and think of strategies to reach your goals.

Take a retirement seminar

or course. Think of retirement as an evolution of your career.

Be open

to invitations to join in projects or activities.

Get professional help.

If taking a class or reading a book isn't enough, meet with a counselor, therapist or career coach to help you chart a new course.

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