Three fundamental ways our lives change in retirement

by | Oct 14, 2019

Three fundamental ways our lives change in retirement

“What is true in the morning of life is a lie in the afternoon of life”, said Carl Jung, the eminent Swiss psychologist and psychoanalyst of the 20th century.

This quote rings especially true when you’re thinking (as I do frequently) about the concept of retirement. In fact, the morning of life and the afternoon of life might as well be two different countries. And yet, the tens of millions of people who retire each year are oblivious to this.

So, what can be done? As we all know, when we go to a different country with a different culture, we know that we have to adapt, if we are to thrive.

In the same way, when we enter retirement, the afternoon of our lives, we must think anew. In my programs, I help retiring people address all the areas of their lives that need a new perspective. In this blog, let’s focus on three – just to get you thinking…

Three fundamental ways our lives change in retirement

1. The way we work (or don’t)

Everything in nature, including humanity, is in motion: either growing or dying. There is no in-between space, which is what retirement is – inactivity. The Florentine genius, Leonardo da Vinci, who spent an inordinate amount of time studying the human anatomy, said “Iron rusts; stagnant waters become impure; and an inactive mind is sapped of its vigour.”

Many who retire, do so without planning, thinking that they have all the time in the world. But once they retire, they are already in these stagnant waters, which makes planning difficult, and the chance is lost.

That’s why planning before retirement is essential: we need to spend more time focusing on what gives us joy and less about what others think of us. This in itself is not an easy task because firstly, many of us have spent decades lying to ourselves, perhaps to fit in, or so that that we could get on with our careers or businesses. Secondly, at this life stage we often make ourselves believe that we are tired and we now need and deserve a rest. And thirdly, many of us resist change at all costs.

Why? Because we have been programmed from an early age, by our parents and our schooling. We think we are thinking, but we are not. We must learn how to change our mental programs by thinking anew. This is what I help my clients do – really think. And when thinking starts, this inactivity becomes nonsensical. Instead, we can stop making a living, but start making a life, by giving of our knowledge, experiences, and skills to others as a volunteer or for a fee. There is no room for inactivity – and the resulting rust. There is no space in between growing and dying.

2. The importance of our significant other

The decision to marry someone is one of the most important and difficult decisions in one’s life. But we evolve as we grow older – and so must our marriage, if it is to survive. It’s a tall older as the two people in the marriage may not change at the same pace, or want the same things as they mature. Retirement is an extra pressure as routines and priorities change and you may have more time together than ever before.

Again, planning is essential. Has your spouse retired yet? If so, how does he or she feel about it? If you’ve retired first, how does he or she feel about your retirement? Have you thought about what you will be doing in this part of your lives? What are your shared passions?

Retirement could in fact be the best opportunity that life offers you both in terms of how to live and work in a new and joyful way. But you both have to be willing to look forward. This is a time to grow, to create new experiences, and to enjoy learning anew. In my programs, I explore how to achieve a new mindset to make this possible.

3. The value of community

No man is an island. When we are working, whether employed or self-employed, we have a community of people with whom we work: suppliers, customers, sub-contractors, partners, and various communities, online and offline.

But when we retire, these connections end. And although many of us try to be stoical about it, we’re often rightfully saddened, or in a state of denial. The result? We have no closure, and without it, we cannot open up to make new connections.

One of the mindset changes I explore in my programs is how to rewrite your own rules: to learn to be adaptable and reach out and work in new communities, helping people. This in turn will make us feel useful and relevant – and ultimately give us a renewed purpose and passion.

Let’s remind ourselves of Jung’s quote again: “What was once true in the morning of life is a lie in the afternoon.” I believe understanding this is the key to success in retirement. Retirement is often an expensive, lonely and unrewarding way to live, but nobody tells you that. We must think anew; we must unlearn and re-learn in all areas – so we can live the life of our dreams.


Thank you for taking the time to read this article. If you’d like to learn more about my retirement coaching and consultant programs, visit my site at or contact me at [email protected].

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