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The Fear Holding Back Your Retirement: Part 1

Today, we’re launching a multi-part series discussing common fears regarding retirement and how to overcome them. We hope you enjoy it and learn a bit more about yourself.


“Freakonomics” author Steven D Levitt said it best, “As a rule of thumb, people are too cautious when it comes to making change.” For many of us, when it comes to doing something big and new, like retiring, we shy away from self-transformation. After all, it is only human nature to let the little voice inside our heads tell us that it would be much easier to maintain the status quo than change our lives and retire. This is complicated by the changing views towards retirement. Retirement is no longer a period of time which many once considered the end of one’s usefulness, but rather one in which we thrive and get to explore our world without reserve. While this sounds wonderful, the new perception has led to increased fear of just going off and retiring. There are more questions of what we can and should do. So, are many of us being too cautious in not making the change to retirement or are our fears keeping us safe?

Below we discuss the two predominant fears and why it might be time to let them go.

The Financial – Have I got enough money to retire?

We spend most of our lives working towards retirement, saving and putting away as much as we can to get there. Even with a lifetime of savings, investments and super, we worry. We get ourselves as close as we can to our goals, but our minds tell us we’ll only ever come up short. Maybe we get 80 or 90% of the way to the amount of financial security we think we need in retirement.

When we think of this, we think how do we get the rest of the way there? How to get to 100%? That’s when the fear begins to build. We start thinking we didn’t try hard enough and start estimating how much longer and harder we need to work in order to get to that point. Here’s the trick: 100% is a moving target – rarely do we ever get there because what we think of 100% preparedness will always change.

So maybe, instead of thinking ‘How do I get to 100%?’ it might be time to think ‘How do I make 90% work for me?’ You might surprise yourself.

We will cover more regarding this fear in Part 2 of our series.

The Psychological: Won’t I be bored?

This question comes up with surprising frequency. Our careers can be so intertwined with our lives that sometimes it is hard to imagine life without a job. There’s a fear that retirement will lead to boredom rather than grand adventure. The reality is that as long as you’re healthy, rarely are people bored if on some level they don’t want to be. It may seem silly, but sometimes the reason we allow ourselves to get bored is because we’re waiting to gain permission to do what we want, whether it be travel or volunteer work or starting up your own little side business.

You don’t have to wait for permission – you just have to work with your fear. Ask yourself, what is it that you want to do and what is stopping you from actually doing it?

If you try, you might just find new strength.

We will cover more regarding this fear in Part 3 of our series.


The answer to whether or not fear is holding us back from retirement is that, more often than not, we are being much too cautious. Of course there are plenty of situations in which someone who is considering retirement may need to hold off for a little while, but as it often turns out, the fears holding us back are aren’t actually things to be afraid of.

What is keeping you from retirement? Tell us in the comments and we’ll do our best to help you get over the hurdle.

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1 Comment

  1. Godfrey Sutton on April 27, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    Whilst I am already retired (more than a couple of years ago now) interesting stuff.

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