10 Retirement Letdowns

Some things about retirement aren’t as great as you thought they would be.


After retirement you no longer jump out of bed to an alarm each morning. You linger over your morning coffee while you read the paper from cover to cover and bask in your newfound freedom. It doesn’t take very long, though, before you come to realize that a few things about retirement could be disappointing.

You are no longer important. The good news about retirement is that a burden has lifted: No one is depending on you anymore. The bad news about retirement is that no one is depending on you anymore.

Turns out you weren’t irreplaceable. Someone else is sitting at your old desk. And guess what? The company hasn’t fallen apart without you.

It seems like you used to have a lot more friends. Every Monday morning you and your co-workers would gather around the water cooler and share tales of the past weekend. Besides the fact that you can no longer distinguish weekends from weekdays, there’s no one around to tell anyway. They’re all at work.

[See 5 Ways to Wreck Your Retirement.]

You are much more married now. When you are off at work full-time your marriage is more of a part-time gig. When you are retired, it becomes a full-time gig, and that may take a little getting used to.

You don’t really have to be anywhere. You had a tight schedule to keep when you were working. Without that schedule you may wander around aimlessly, not sure what to do next.

Your friends used to find you a lot more interesting. When you retired, you eliminated a primary component of the standard conversation. Without work to talk about, you’ve become a lot more boring. You may be excited about your success growing heirloom tomatoes, but your friends, not so much.

[See 5 Surprising Retirement Truths.]

Gambling used to be a little more fun. If you lose a hundred bucks at the blackjack table when you are still working, you just view it as the cost of a little fun. There’s always another paycheck coming next month. On a fixed income you just blew the whole month’s clothing budget.

It’s a lot harder to feel productive. There were days in your working life when you really didn’t get much done. Maybe you spent too much time gabbing with your co-workers or surfing the Internet. But the fact that you showered, commuted, and actually sat at your desk for eight hours gave you the impression you were productive. The only way to feel productive in retirement is to actually be productive.

[See 5 Attitude Adjustments Necessary for Retirement Success.]

You live in suburbia all day long now. Perhaps you used to commute to an exciting metropolitan locale. You liked getting out of the house each day to explore the city that is right there in your own back yard. Without that job, getting out of the house might quite literally mean going into your own back yard.

No more office holiday parties. Need I say more?

It’s a big shift from the fast pace of your career to the slower pace of retirement. It may take a little getting used to. But once you get past the initial shock to your system you’ll probably appreciate the total absence of office politics and annual reviews.

Sydney Lagier is a former certified public accountant. Since retiring in 2008 at the age of 44, she has been writing about the transition from productive member of society to gal of leisure at her blog, Retirement: A Full-Time Job.