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If you ask people in the workplace how they feel about going to work each day, you are going to find a wide range of responses. Some love their occupation and wake up each day looking forward to arriving at work.  For others, work is a dreary or stressful time where dreams of winning the lottery and ‘escaping’ may pop up each weekend as they purchase their ticket. 

Interestingly, people in either of the two extreme groups mentioned above are probably going to miss some aspects of their work life when they retire. So what is going on?

The research I have conducted over the past twenty years, together with the findings of other researchers, has found the following responses.

There is an initial period in retirement known as ‘the honeymoon’ phase.  It is during this time that newly retired people view retirement as a long holiday – provided they have reasonable health and sufficient income, their sense of freedom may be intoxicating. 

It is also during this time that those who have had a lifelong love of recreational activities such as golf or fishing may believe that these pastimes will be enough to sustain them through retirement – typically this will prove not to be the case!  The word ‘Recreational’ is derived from ‘recreate’, or the need to recover from the stresses of an endeavour.  However, where life’s activities become all recreation, some of the benefits of the workplace may soon be missed. 

Here are just three of the fifteen benefits of work that are discussed in my book, Enjoying Retirement.

1.     Structure.  As some people approach retirement they may fear that a lack of structure in their lives will result in them wasting their days in aimless pursuits. Previously, the work place provided structure in the form of needing to get up at a certain time each day to arrive at work on time.

2.     Social Networks. While you may or may not form close friendships at work, there are usually a few people with whom you bond and whose company you enjoy.

3.     Balance.  Most of us enjoy having a balance between work and play – in fact, as a long holiday draws to a close many people look forward to returning to work and to their work colleagues.

If you find you are missing any of these work aspects, the answer is relatively simple – do some research and look for activities that embody the qualities you are missing.  If it is social contacts then you can try groups such as Meetup or The Australian Men’s Shed Association. You may also like to look at volunteering where you able to mix with others.  These suggestions will also provide you with some structure to your day as well as a sense of balance between ‘work’ and recreation. 

There are many other ideas for selecting suitable activities in Enjoying Retirement; you should also talk to like-minded people that you know and who have retired – pick their brains for ideas. 

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  • Enjoying Retirement - Michael Longhurst

    An Australian handbook of ideas, strategies and resources heading into retirement. As Australia's population ages, retirement is happening at a variety of ages and stages. This essential guide to retirement provides advice on relationships with partners and family, skills in conflict resolution, maintaining financial stability, dealing with issues such as loss, and, most importantly, living a full and happy life in retirement.

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