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Dr. Bill Austin

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Life's Puzzle-Box Top

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Professional Columns -
Relationships by Dr. Bill Austin


There are five basic challenges that need to be addressed in retirement. They are 1) financial: income and expenditures, 2) time management, 3) new identity, 4) creating a new purpose, and 5) creating social support.

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One of the concerns of retirement is the question, "Will we have enough money to live on for the rest of our lives?" Therefore, a budget is necessary. There are some good financial counselors that can help us plan our retirement finances.

When we were working, we had to manage our time. In retirement, we hear people say, "I haven't done anything all day but I didn't get it all done." The challenge is structuring our time. Our lives will be shortened significantly if all we are doing is sitting around watching TV or playing on the iPad. Studies have shown that people who do nothing but sit around during retirement will most likely not live past a year. It is easy to get depressed if we isolate ourselves and do not have something meaningful to do, so it is important to get active. For example,  exercising, joining  a group or doing some volunteer work are great ways to stay active.

Then we retire, and we have to move from
"what am I" to "who am I?"
It is an opportunity to reinvent ourselves
and get to know ourselves.
The greatest adventure we can take is inward.

In retirement we are called upon to form a new identity. When we were working, a big part of our identity and how we felt about ourselves had to do with our career. It gave us identity and status. When asked to describe ourselves, most of us responded by saying such things as, "I am a doctor." "I am teacher." "I am a contractor." Then we retire, and we have to move from "what am I" to "who am I?" It is an opportunity to reinvent ourselves and get to know ourselves. The greatest adventure we can take is inward.

Sometimes when we retire, we feel like a boat without a rudder. If our career was our purpose, we have to find a new one and that can be very difficult. Retirement can be doing something that was on the back burner. It is an opportunity to grow in a different way. It is about choices.

The workplace provided a social group for us. When we retire, we cannot always go back. We have to establish a new social group. It is important for all of us to have a social group.

We want to be people  who grow during retirement and enjoy it. We need to be the ones who learn to play by exercising, by being involved in the community, by learning a new hobby, by doing volunteer work, by traveling and taking care of ourselves and by watching what we eat and drink.

Next issue, we will explore how retirement and the empty nest impacts our marriage. It has been reported that the second highest divorce rate is after retirement and the empty nest. We will explore things to do so we are not one of those statistics.

Dr. Austin has decades of experience dealing with relationships. He charges clients on a sliding scale according to their ability to pay. His first book, Creating Our Safe Place: Articles on Healthy Relationships, was published in 2004. His second book, Keeping It Safe, was published in 2009 and can be purchased through,, and at the Parrish Book Store in Virginia Beach.  He is also a sought-after speaker at meetings and seminars.

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