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20 of the Most Stressful life events involve retirement

20 of the Most Stressful life events involve retirement. In fact, retirement is #10. 


So much for thinking retirement is a haven from the stress of life.


Retirement is number ten on the Holmes & Rahe Stress scale. But it gets even worse.


Retirement expert, author, and speaker Robert Laura writes in Forbes magazine, twenty of the top 43 stress-producing life events can happen in retirement. Here are the 20 with the Holmes & Rahe scale rankings.


#1) Death of a spouse (a harsh reality that you may live alone for some portion of retirement)

#2) Divorce (grey divorce rates continue to climb)

#5) Death of a close family member (as we age we tend to lose more family and friends)

#6) Personal Injury or illness (Think cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or other diagnoses)

#8) Fired at work (in terms of retirement, forced into retirement)

#10) Retirement (Yes, the 10th most stressful event in life is retirement all by itself… without these other factors)

#11) Change in health of a family member (Aging parent with Alzheimer or spouse with cancer)

#13) Sex difficulties (as we age, things change – See sex in retirement)

#16) Change in our financial state (No more paycheck and on a fixed income causes lots of retirement arguments)

#17) Death of a close friend (impacts social network)

#18) Change to a different line of work (Retirees with part-time jobs aren’t always happy with the gig)

#19) Change in number of arguments with spouse (they tend to go up with more time together in retirement)

#20) A large mortgage or loan (Not having your home paid off can add stress in retirement)

#23) Son or daughter leaving home (Hardest part of raising kids is when they leave)

#26) Spouse begins or stops work (Changes the routine, roles, and expectations)

#28) Change in living conditions (more time together, aging parent moving in, adult kids coming back home)

#29) Revision of personal habits (personal activity will change and if married can disrupt partners routine)

#32) Change in residence (downsizing or re-locating)

#36) Change in social activities (while people think they will do more, they often do less with friends)

#40) Change in eating habits (in the refrigerator more and other stresses can cause snacking)

It stands to reason that 20 of the Most Stressful life events involve retirement

The American Institute of Stress offers an inventory sheet so you can do a self-assessment. Try doing it based on your life right now. Then take a moment and imagine your future. What types of stresses do you think are likely during your retirement years? Then apply to the Stress Assessment and discover the level of stress and therefore the related consequences of that stress might be to your health and overall wellbeing and happiness.


What realizations do these insights hold for you and what can you do about it in your life plan?


Missing: Perhaps the biggest stress of all

What’s missing from this list is perhaps the most significant stress of all: Lack of purpose.


I have heard from virtually every retirement, success, and life coaching expert as well as retirees that a lack of purpose, significance, and accomplishment is leading many modern retirees to say they are failing at retirement. In other words, failing at life.


This lack of purpose and significance can lead to depression, anxiety, a sense of failure and therefore failing health and overall decline. Alcohol and drug abuse, depression, divorce, or even suicide are on the increase among retirees.


This is not necessarily true for everyone. Many people thrive in traditional retirement.


With that said, these stress factors are realities that anyone approaching, considering, or in retirement must be aware of.


It’s a whole new reality. What we presumed we were supposed to do, retire, just doesn’t fit the modern age of longer lifespan and health-span. It doesn’t fit what Baby Boomers and subsequent generations have done and experienced. Being relevant, challenged, accomplished, and making an impact.


Without purpose, relevance, contrast, challenges, and accomplishments, saying retirement is stressful is only part of the story. It’s often a loss of self and one helluva a terrible way to finish your life.

A better way 

Carefully and fully take all of this into account.


Fully realize the 20 of the Most Stressful life events involve retirement and run the other way.


Realize this time of life is “Your Turn”. Your chance to do and be what you truly want to be.


Realize the megatrend for your age cohorts is to redefine their life for the better.


To find a New Way Forward that’s right for you to thrive and enjoy some of the best years of your life.


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