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Surviving Retirement When You’re a Workaholic

5 ways to make the transition to retirement smoother


Can a workaholic ever retire?

Many workaholics genuinely enjoy the rush of starting and completing projects and continuing the non-stop cycle. So it may also be difficult for them to contemplate what life may be like in retirement once they are officially out of the workforce.

If you’re a workaholic, smoothing your transition to retirement means uncovering the answer to the question: What part of the end of your job will you miss the most? It might be the people. Or the challenges. Or having purpose. Once you know which it is, you can focus on how to reap the same benefits — and feelings —while not holding down full-time employment.

5 Retirement Tips for Workaholics

Here are 5 tips to help workaholics ease into retirement:

1. Start slowly  If you jump into retirement all at once, the shock to your routine might be too much to handle. Instead, look for opportunities where you can work part-time, even with your current employer.

Cut back on your work hours gradually and your non-working life could just slip into place. Look for a weekend job, or an after-hours job, to start while you’re employed full-time. This could turn into part-time employment that you may want to pursue during retirement.

You might want to find out if your current employer would consider keeping you on as a consultant in retirement. This may help your employer retain your institutional knowledge while you enjoy a more flexible schedule.

If you plan to take Social Security retirement benefits before Full Retirement Age (between 66 and 67, depending on when you were born) and work at the same time, however, your benefit will be reduced if you make more than the yearly earnings limit. In 2017, the Social Security earnings limit is $16,920. Social Security deducts $1 from your benefit payments for every $2 you earn above the earnings limit.

2. Experiment and schedule  As you wean yourself away from work, look for new ways to occupy your mind. This could be as simple as taking a cooking class, volunteering or exercising every morning before breakfast.

Also, at least in the beginning, either schedule your days down to the hour so you always have something to do or time-block the beginning or ending half of the day.

Has your spouse or any of your friends retired recently? Retirement may prove to be a great opportunity for you to spend more time with him or her. The same goes if you have children or grandchildren. You can reroute the attention you gave to your job to your family and friends.

3. Give yourself a break  A recent study by my company, The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, found that one in six Americans is very dissatisfied with his or her life. Often, workaholics feel guilty about not having spent enough time with their families during their careers. Some didn’t pay attention to themselves either, or to the physical and mental benefits that come with rest.

So as you ease into retirement, don’t forget to take care of your own needs even as you strive to care more for those around you.

4. Talk it out  If you find that post-work life is more difficult than you anticipated — or even worse, that you’re feeling depressed or overwhelmed — don’t hesitate to get help. It’s important that you talk about your feelings with friends, family or other retirees going through similar transitions.

5. Look ahead Most retirees find it doesn’t take long to adjust to life without a full-time job. Keep this in mind as you look toward your personal retirement plan. Focus on your retirement the way you’ve focused on your work and the years ahead can be your best ever.

By Douglas Dubitsky
Douglas Dubitsky is vice president of product management & development for retirement solutions at The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America. Prior to joining Guardian in 2008, he held senior level positions with firms such as McKinsey & Company, AXA Financial,and New York Life Insurance.

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