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  • Writer's pictureSteve Feller

Fear Of Retirement

This year, I turned 60, which has me thinking about what retirement will look like. I don’t ever see myself not doing something, so this is why I have started my coaching business. I want something I can continue to do into my retirement years and still allow me the freedom to set my schedule. I have mixed emotions about this. First, I am excited to move on and write another chapter in my life, and second, I am scared to step away from my secure work lifestyle. The fear of retirement brings me to this article: the fear many men have of losing their identity as flourishing professionals.

There is much truth to the fear of retirement that men often don’t retire and keep working. Others may fall into a depressed state or lose the desire to reinvent themselves. I have heard people say, “Oh, he just needs to keep working; it is all he has, and if he stops, he will probably die.” It is so sad that our lives are so wrapped up in work that we can’t continue without it. My work has become a big part of my identity, and without it, who am I?

Fear of Retirement

Today, I am reinventing myself into who I want to be over the next 30 years. I can tell you that it is not easy. We have all been conditioned to work until we maximize our Social Security, and then we stop doing everything. Usually, by then, our health is not the best, and retirees end up sitting around the house. I plan to maximize my retirement years, staying active, eating right, and working on a plan to maintain my health the best I can.

Last week, I was on a call about how the Japanese culture has put mentors in place to help Japanese men transition into retirement. The Japanese take extreme pride in supporting their families and work daily to achieve this. It is often that the type of work is very manual and strenuous. As they leave this lifestyle, they feel lost and unsure of what to do. I have watched my father do the same thing. He owned a ranch and worked hard every day; he worked until he couldn’t get out anymore. Now, at the age of 93, he still lives on the ranch but has not found any hobbies other than wondering if my brother is getting all the work done.

I also read an article recently from Psychology Today

“But for many men, things start shifting when we reach a certain age. Sometime after 50 or 60, maybe even 70, someone begins to let us know that it’s time to step aside and make room for the next generation. Or maybe we’re abruptly shown the door. However it happens, we are left to begin the search for mastery and meaning in new ways. It’s what I call Chapter X. To move from a laser focus on our career into something that looks like a down-shift or even “retirement” requires creative thinking and a new kind of bravery. That’s especially hard on men because we’re supposed to be driven, aggressive, tough, risk-taking.”

From this article, downsizing is something that will happen to me in the near future. I have been an executive in a corporate business, and I fit that driven part, and soon, I want to wind down and do more for others. But looking at downsizing your career or even ending it isn't easy. I want to shift my career into coaching and mentoring; yes, I will retire from a well-paid and secure job. I am also stepping down from a place of status. This isn’t easy, but I am working through it.

In an article from Forbes, it has some great pointers to ease into retirement.

“From a mental, physical, and financial perspective, there is a strong case for phasing into retirement. Financially, the benefits are many. Instead of flipping a switch from accumulation to decumulation, maybe you stop contributing to your retirement accounts but let them grow in this first phase before turning the income spigot on. Perhaps you delay taking Social Security retirement benefits a bit longer, increasing what is likely the only source of fixed income most have with an automatic inflation-adjusted increase.

Physically, you’re more active for longer, and mentally, your identity shift becomes more of a journey than a cliff dive.

 Never stop “working.”

Part of this first phase in retirement might even be taking on a role for lesser pay that feels more closely related to your true identity rather than the utilitarian approach to work that maximizes pay for time. I have clients who’ve used this retirement phase to teach at the college level, write a book, tend a farm, and start or partner with a non-profit that serves a near-and-dear cause.

Even if you choose or are forced to give up a job, some form of work may still be the key to a healthy retirement. This is why I encourage all, and especially retired clients, to stay active in annual goal setting. Even if the goals are to visit each of the grandchildren at college, craft a vacation for the extended family, or lead a study at church or synagogue—it’s less important what these goals are than why you pursue them.”


There are many ways to ease into retirement and make the most of our time. My thoughts are focused on giving back to others rather than giving to the corporate world.  

If you are in a similar situation, I will coach you through it. Reach out to me at and schedule a section.

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