While traveling recently, I was introduced to someone from Brazil. When I told him I was a Life Coach with a specialty in Retirement, he was intrigued. The conversation went something like this:
He: Interesting. I recently watched a documentary about retirement in the U.S. If you don’t mind, I have a question.
Me: Sure, go ahead and ask.
He: Well, one thing really surprised me. Is it true when a person retires in the U.S., they are assigned a LEGAL GUARDIAN?
A Legal Guardian at Retirement? No!
Needless to say, I was surprised. Perhaps the film dealt with financial planning or offered other suggestions for protecting one’s assets during retirement. Somehow, he had come away with a very strange conclusion.
Note: Many people in the U.S. take legal steps to assign Power of Attorney to a family member or trusted friend as part of their Estate Planning. This gives that person the legal authority to care for the personal and property interests of someone who has become physically or mentally impaired.
A legal guardian is similar in nature, but the guardian is assigned through an extensive court proceeding rather than through the wishes of the individual. Obviously, neither is an automatic factor of retirement.
Guard Against the Dark Side
What I did not share with him - and what I really don’t like to linger on here because our focus in these pages is the power of positivity – is the fact that after retiring some people do experience the dark side of retirement. Simply put, the dark side of retirement has to do with feeling lost, useless, depressed, and simply without validation. Sitting in the house all day with little to do is very boring and lonely; the spiraling down can even lead to exploring the liquor cabinet.
For some, the lack of purpose that comes with retirement is very hard and finding the positive can be difficult and they can no longer handle their own affairs. If you or anyone you know is experiencing depression or having trouble shifting a negative mindset, I encourage reaching out to a good therapist or consulting with your primary care physician. There is help!
Focus on the Bright Side
Happily, what most people can look forward to is the bright side of retirement!
And, indeed, there is a bright side – time to do the things you really enjoy, opportunities for creative and exciting adventures, satisfaction of embracing the new and nurturing the tried and true. It involves PLANNING, and there are a few simple things you can do now to make YOUR future look bright.
Step One: PHYSICAL
Start now to build an exercise routine. This does not require a gym membership or a Lulu Lemon outfit. If you are new at it, start with 10 minutes and watch yourself build up to 30.
Step Two: MENTAL
Set your mind to being more positive every day. Make things happen. What are you are really good at and enjoy doing? Spend a little time starting up again. (Photography? Learning a language? Volunteer?)
Step Three: SOCIAL
Make sure your friends and social connections are not all associated with your work. You’ll have new friends thanks to step two! And…, get rid of negativity. If relationships are hard to break, try to interact less often.
Step Four: SPIRITUAL
This is not an edict for religion. Instead find time to bring significance to your daily routine. How can you contribute? How can you feel satisfied? Oh yes, and perform a random act of kindness every day.
That’s it. I’ve tried to make it short and sweet. Whether you are following these suggestions yourself or if you are a Power of Attorney or a Legal Guardian trying to help the person in your care, working through these four steps is bound to lead to positive and impactful benefits in the years ahead.
Loretta Saff, M.A., CPC, CPRC