Support for Transitioning to Retirement

Support comes in lots of shapes and sizes. We can find support in friends, family, community, church, co-workers and professionals. 

What’s wonderful about having a diverse support system is that different individuals within that system can offer us different things. However, it is important we understand what we get from these support systems, that way we can get the right support from the right people. 

There is danger in looking to one person for all our support needs. Schlossberg’s Transition Theory outlines three functions of support – affection, affirmation and assistance, which strengthen and encourage us to move through a transition (Overwhelmed, 2007). Putting the pressure on one person to meet all three functions of support is not fair for the supporter, and it probably means you don’t get the support you need. 

Reaching out to multiple people in your support network, who can be your cheer squad, offer a range of perspectives and given hands on help, is key. Let’s take the decision to transition to retirement as an example. Yes, you could rely only one person as you navigate this life stage, say your significant-other, however, the chances are you would miss out on ideas and struggle more than if you also consulted professionals, work managers and friends. 

To get you started, consider the following statement: “I feel like I am well supported in my transition to retirement.” Does that statement ring true or false to you? If the statement isn’t 100% true it’s time to think about what support systems you may have in your life and new ones you could access. Depending on your situation, you may be able to approach managers at work, colleagues, friends and family members to talk about transitioning to retirement. Additionally, there are online blogs, podcasts, coaches and entire books dedicated to the topic of wellbeing in retirement. In addition to this, The AWR project website can offer lots of support in the form of resources and blogs (just like this one) on approaching retirement.

It can be helpful to think back on previous transitions in your life (e.g., moving house, starting a new job, having children) and identifying what were the biggest support networks that helped you through. Additionally, look to your current social networks. Is there anyone you’ve met recently who would be a great support? 

There is no right or wrong way to build support networks, and often it is a mix of an intimate partner and close friends, a broader network of friends and family, co-workers, neighbours, managers in the workplace and professionals that help us through transitions. Who is someone in your support network who you could reach out to?