Are your Retirees too busy?

Retirees can also burn themselves out on volunteering, especially if they use that work to avoid feelings of loneliness from the change in identity of being a worker or when facing an empty nest.

Not all retirees want a life of travel, golf and early dinners. Some retirees continue to work just as passionately in retirement as they did before they left their paying occupations. While passion is good, e.g., research that indicates that retirees who volunteer live longer, too much work might be too much on the retiree.

Not all volunteering is fun, in fact much of it can be a drain. While the recent research showing the health benefits of volunteering may drive recent retirees towards volunteering, they may want to proceed with caution. Over doing it at a volunteer engagement, even one with great benefit to the community, can have a negative impact on a retiree’s budget. How? If the retiree has a set budget, distractions in early retirement may be felt more harshly. That is, they may end up overspending through overexertion. For example, extra hours at an animal shelter could result in always grabbing take-out food on the way home. The impact to a retirees’ budget could be as much as $100 per month on those extra meals.

Some, but not all, volunteering opportunities will take from you until you break. For those newly into a life of less schedules, this could have a learning curve that negatively impact health and budget planning. Experts suggest retirees start by understanding their specific scheduling desires, such as distinguishing a twice a week opportunity from one that meets everyday, and also by working with groups they feel specifically concerned about, rather than just those close to home or those who ask.

Retirees can also burn themselves out on volunteering, especially if they use that work to avoid feelings of loneliness from the change in identity of being a worker or when facing an empty nest. For those who were driven, ambitious, or passionate, retirement may be a tough pill to swallow. Volunteering may allow those retirees to jump back into the fray and feel positive contributing. But it is also possible that they can jump in a little too deeply.

“Busy” can be a way to distract from feeling uncomfortable with the loneliness of retirement. Retirees may struggle to accept that having volunteer work, or a retirement passion like golf, music or gardening, doesn’t have to fill up the same eight hour day that their jobs did.

If you are concerned that your retirees are overly busy, you may wonder if they’ve taken their workaholic tendencies into retirement. What is a workaholic? One who places their work ahead of their own needs or that of their family and friends. Workaholic retirees can ease themselves into retirement by finding activities that have the same characteristics as work, such as deadlines or deliverables.  They can also benefit from having a retirement schedule, a set plan of activities that helps them transition from work into a slower pace. Some retirement specialists who have worked with former workaholics suggest that finding a counselor or lay minister can help retirees who may be more than bored or antsy settle into a new schedule.

Advisors can help those who were busy or overly busy during their working years ease into a less busy lifestyle by asking the recent retirees which aspects of their job they’ll miss the most? Other questions might help those retirees understand how retirement gives them an opportunity to explore a new identity, one not tied to their work and productivity.

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