Worries persist that working Americans aren’t saving enough to afford a life of leisure, but maybe retirement isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

A new book suggests that barely half of retirees think their lives improved after work, while the same percentages are able to comfortably adjust to this new lifestyle or adequately plan for it. Among the culprits: loss of identity, deterioration of marriage and social life, feeling disconnected to the world, a lack of structure and direction.

“The Retirement Maze: What You Should Know Before and After You Retire” (Rowman and Littlefield, April 2012) outline various strategies to help current and future retirees alike make a smooth transition from work to leisure. The book is co-authored by Rob Pascale, Ph.D., Louis H. Primavera, Ph.D., and Rip Roach.

Consider the following preparations that can help people better adjust to retirement:

  • Emotional acknowledgements. There are several serious phases of retirement – from a honeymoon period and disenchantment to reorientation and stability – that hold important lessons for retirees.
  • Push-and-pull factors. An examination of whether people retired on their own terms or felt pushed out the workforce leads to a broader discussion of what qualifies as a so-called push-or-pull factor and what makes for a happier retiree.
  • Budgeting one’s time. Activity is considered a necessary component of a successful retirement. The book suggests that well-adjusted retirees spend an average of nearly 25 hours a week involved in dynamic home-based activities and about 14 hours a week engaged in social activities.
  • Keeping the flame alive. As is the case with many marriages, the honeymoon period of retirement can end quickly – in little more than six months on average, according to the authors. They also say that only 75% of retirees have sex on a regular basis compared with 90% of actives, but offer tips on how to avoid becoming a part of that statistic.
  • Where to go from here. The authors provide a list of comprehensive action steps to help current and future retirees move forward with life after work.

“The aging of the baby boomer generation has made retirement a critical topic for workers, retirees and social scientists alike” – various interest groups that the authors have brought together, according to George Stricker, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at American School of Professional Psychology at Argosy University in Washington, D.C.
“Based on an imaginative and exhaustive survey,” he said, “they describe the pleasures and pitfalls of retirement. They draw on their data and the literature on retirement, and then present it in a readable form.”

The book hits close to home for Pascale, who found himself adrift in early retirement before realizing that he could use his research background to help others avoid the same mistakes. Pascale, who founded Marketing Analysts, Inc. (MAi) in 1982, has helped conduct more than 5,000 research studies for more than 50 of the world’s largest corporations and polled more than two million consumers.

Primavera, a New York psychologist trained in behavior and rational emotive behavior therapies, is dean of the School of Health Sciences at Touro College. Roach is senior partner and managing director at Mai, as well as lead technical consultant for the company’s staff and client base.


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