8 habits of people who enter retirement feeling emotionally prepared, according to psychology

If you’ve been planning for retirement, you might know that it’s not just about the financial aspects. It’s also about emotional preparation.

The transition into retirement can bring a mix of emotions, from excitement and relief to apprehension and anxiety. It can be a rollercoaster ride, and not everyone hits the ground running.

Psychology has a lot to say about this. There are certain habits of those who enter retirement feeling emotionally ready.

These habits don’t just magically appear when you hit 65; they’re cultivated over time.

In this article, we’ll explore these habits and how they contribute to a smoother transition into retirement. Trust me, it’s worth the read.

1) Embracing the change

When it comes to entering retirement feeling emotionally prepared, one of the key habits is embracing the change.

Retirement is not just leaving work behind; it’s also entering a new phase of life. And with any big change, there can be uncertainty, apprehension, and even fear.

But those who handle this transition well often do so by embracing the change rather than resisting it.

Change can be stressful, but it can also be an opportunity for growth and development. Embracing the change means seeing retirement as a new adventure, a chance to explore new interests and experiences.

This doesn’t mean that there won’t be challenges or moments of doubt. But by embracing the change, you can turn these challenges into opportunities and these doubts into catalysts for growth.

Doing this requires a certain mental shift. It means moving away from a mindset of loss (“I’m losing my job, my routine, and my identity”) to a mindset of gain (“I’m gaining freedom, time, and opportunities”).

2) Continuous learning

It may seem like retirement is the time to take a break from learning, having spent years in the workforce or raising a family.

But in reality, one of the habits of those who enter retirement feeling emotionally prepared is continual learning.

This doesn’t necessarily mean going back to school or getting another degree, although it could. It’s more about maintaining a sense of curiosity and openness to new experiences.

Retirement offers the chance to dive into topics you’ve always been interested in but never had the time for.

Maybe it’s painting, gardening, history, or computer programming. Or perhaps it’s something more practical, like understanding investments or learning a new language.

By continuing to learn, you’re not just filling your time. You’re also keeping your brain active and sharp.

Plus, learning can be a great way to meet new people and stay socially connected, which is another crucial aspect of emotional preparedness for retirement.

Even though it might seem like learning is something you leave behind when you retire, it can actually be a valuable habit to carry with you into this new phase of life.

3) Building and maintaining social connections

who happily embrace getting older 8 habits of people who enter retirement feeling emotionally prepared, according to psychology

It’s easy to underestimate the importance of our social connections when considering retirement.

However, those who enter retirement feeling emotionally prepared often prioritize building and maintaining social connections.

Retirement can sometimes lead to feelings of loneliness or isolation, especially if much of your social life is tied to your work.

But having a strong social network can significantly enhance your emotional wellbeing during retirement.

Research has shown that social connections can lower anxiety and depression, help us regulate our emotions, lead to higher self-esteem, and even contribute to longevity.

That’s why it’s important to have friends and family members you can turn to for companionship and support.

But it’s not just keeping old friendships alive. It’s also making new ones.

Retirement is a great time to join clubs or groups, volunteer, or engage in community activities. These are all excellent ways to meet new people and stay socially engaged.

This shows that investing in your social connections isn’t just beneficial for your emotional health during retirement; it can also add richness and meaning to this exciting phase of life.

4) Practicing self-compassion

Like any major change, retirement can come with its fair share of challenges. That’s why one of the most important habits for feeling emotionally prepared is practicing self-compassion.

Self-compassion involves being gentle with ourselves when things don’t go as planned or when we’re feeling down. It’s about acknowledging our feelings without judgment and understanding that it’s okay not to be okay all the time.

Retirement might bring unexpected emotions, and that’s perfectly normal.

You might miss your colleagues or the routine of working. You might feel uncertain about how to fill your days. Or you might simply feel different without the familiar identity of your job title.

But remember, it’s okay to have these feelings. It’s okay to take some time to adjust. And it’s okay to give yourself grace during this transition.

By practicing self-compassion, you can navigate the ups and downs of retirement with more ease and resilience. You can give yourself the kindness and understanding you deserve during this exciting new chapter in your life.

5) Regular physical activity

Let’s face it, we all know we should be moving more. Whether it’s a brisk walk around the block, a yoga class, or a game of golf, regular physical activity is a habit that benefits us at any age, and retirement is no exception.

Life post-retirement often means more free time, and that’s the perfect opportunity to incorporate more movement into your day.

It’s not just for losing weight or staying in shape (though those are great perks too). It’s to feel good in your body and maintain your physical health as you age as well.

Not to mention that physical activity isn’t just good for the body; it’s great for the mind too.

It can help reduce stress, improve mood, and even promote better sleep—all of which are crucial elements for emotional preparedness in retirement.

Remember, it doesn’t need to be a marathon or an intense gym session (unless that’s what you love!). You simply need to find something that you enjoy and can maintain in the long run. 

6) Creating a new routine

maintain your independence as you get older 8 habits of people who enter retirement feeling emotionally prepared, according to psychology

One of my friends once told me about her first few weeks of retirement. She had looked forward to it for years, imagining endless free time and no obligations.

But when it finally arrived, she found herself feeling lost and aimless without her usual work routine.

She decided to create a new routine for herself. She started her mornings with a brisk walk, followed by reading the newspaper with a cup of coffee.

She set aside time for hobbies like painting and gardening, and made plans to meet friends for lunch or coffee a few times a week.

This new routine gave her a sense of structure and purpose that she had missed in those first few weeks. She felt more productive, more engaged, and, most importantly, happier.

Creating a new routine is a habit that can significantly help you feel emotionally prepared for retirement.

It provides structure to our days, gives us something to look forward to, and can help make the transition into retirement smoother and more enjoyable.

7) Financial planning

Let’s not sugarcoat this: Retirement can be a financial shock if you’re not prepared. It’s not enough to simply hope you’ll have enough money to last through your golden years.

Financial planning is a habit that might seem tedious or even daunting, but it’s absolutely crucial.

Knowing where your income is coming from, understanding your expenses, and having a plan for unexpected costs can significantly reduce stress and anxiety in retirement.

Don’t put this off until the last minute. Start as early as possible, consult with a financial advisor if you can, and make a realistic plan that will allow you to live comfortably.

Remember, financial security in retirement isn’t just luxury cruises or lavish gifts for the grandkids (unless that’s what you want and can afford!).

It’s also having the peace of mind that comes from knowing you can cover your needs and have something set aside for enjoyment too.

Take this seriously. Your future self will thank you.

8) Prioritize your emotional health

If there’s one thing to remember as you prepare for retirement, it’s this: your emotional health matters just as much as your financial readiness.

Adjusting to this new phase can be filled with a mix of emotions. It’s important to recognize these feelings, give yourself time to adjust, and seek help if needed.

Prioritizing your emotional health means taking time for self-care, maintaining social connections, continuing to learn and grow, and staying active.

It also means being kind to yourself and understanding that it’s okay to have ups and downs during this transition.

Your retirement years can be some of the most fulfilling years of your life. By cultivating these habits now, you can enter this new phase feeling emotionally prepared and ready for whatever comes next.


Retirement is more than just saying goodbye to a job—it’s embracing a whole new chapter of life. And while it comes with its own set of challenges, it also brings opportunities for growth, learning, and joy.

This article has delved into habits that can pave the way for feeling emotionally prepared for retirement.

But remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. You still need to find what resonates with you and aligns with your personal journey.

Time spent preparing for this transition is an investment in your future happiness and wellbeing.

Picture of Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley, a London-based writer, is passionate about helping others discover the power of self-improvement. Her approach combines everyday wisdom with practical strategies, shaped by her own journey overcoming personal challenges. Eliza's articles resonate with those seeking to navigate life's complexities with grace and strength.

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