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Retirement Bliss


Specializes in Labor & Delivery, Med-surg. Has 40 years experience.

Retirement, is something we dream about and look forward to for many years. However not everyone retires well. One of the causes is that many people sent less time planning for retirement than they do for their average vacation. It definitely takes more planning than this for successful retirement.

Retirement Bliss

Retirement, is something we dream about and look forward to for many years. I'm here to say it isn't really all it's cracked up to be. In fact for me it was quite miserable and resulted in depression, as absolutely nothing could fill the huge void that absence of nursing had left. I had liked the idea of retiring early at 55, it appealed to me. I was retired for a year and a half before I went running back to nursing.

I think sometimes we underestimate how much our work does for us. We come home overtired and dream of a day when we no longer have to do the daily grind. When I retired I hadn't given much though to how I would thrive emotionally without the career which I had done since I was barely out of my teens. Because retirement is such a normative life event people are expected to adapt with little difficulty and to be happy about their new found freedom. Failure to adapt is seen as a personal failure, in spite of the fact that not everyone retires happily. Something rarely heard at those financial retirement seminars is that the road to happy retirement takes more than just wise financial planning.

According to Zelinski in his book "How To Retire Happy, Wild and Free", every job (including low paying, low status jobs) provides 1) purpose, 2) structure and 3) community. Most jobs also provide a sense of self-worth, status, recognition, identity and a sense of challenge, achievement and personal growth. Understanding this can help clarify why retirement could potentially cause a crisis, if nothing is found to fill the void after the job is gone.

Back to Zelinski's top three things that a job provides


Playing golf or watching TV just won't be enough in the long run. There has to be something to live for, an over-riding purpose that gives meaning to life. Sometimes if you've been nursing for many years and have honed that skill to the exclusion of pursuing other aspects of your life, retirement can leave you feeling empty and quite lost.

That being said, retirement is the perfect time to get in touch with the essence of who you are deep down inside. It gives you the freedom to pursue intellectual, creative or spiritual goals, and to self-actualize and grow as a person. This might involve going back to school, writing a book, becoming a nature photographer or artist, volunteering or maybe even going on mission trips and using your nursing skills there. It's a great time to do some of the things you've always dreamed of doing.


Humans are creatures of habit and we love structure. It is important to have some type of structure to hang the day on after retirement. Some ways of putting structure back into life could be to walk regularly for an hour every morning, take a course, volunteer, join a club or make a commitment to write for several hours every day. Some people structure their day around their favorite TV show or their work out at the gym.


One of the things I missed the very most about work was the camaraderie with my co-workers. When I retired that built in community disappeared over night. Relationships don't just happen; they take time and effort to built. It is unrealistic to expect your family to step in and suddenly meet all your social needs.

Too much time together with your partner can cause problems too. It is important to have a mix of solo and joint activities and to maintain a sense of individuality. No one wants someone clinging to them and following them everywhere they go. Each person needs their own interests, purpose and retirement identity. Sometimes it takes some time for couples to work out a happy balance in this regard.

Having that purpose and identity to fall back on when work ends is crucial. People with no hobbies, interests or friends outside of work are left with a tremendous void when their work is gone. With nothing meaningful to do, retirement becomes like falling into space and the feeling of loss can become overwhelming.

Planning is probably the most important thing that precedes successful retirement. Waiting for fate to show the way just doesn't work. The more one expects from retirement with no effort on their part, the more likely they are to be unhappy, bored and depressed. As you prepare to retire get involved in activities that give you a sense of purpose and meaning, find some key things to add structure to your days and look for social outlets and experiences that involve community and you will do well.

I worked on surgery and maternity for years then retired but I could not live without nursing so I now work in a long term care facility part time.

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