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They say that retirement or the golden years are this magical time in ones life where an individual is gifted with a sense of absolute bliss while they roam aimlessly.

Retirement is a funny thing. if you understand its weird sense of humor. People often enter retirement with one set of ideas and perceptions but they can quickly change when retirement pulls out many of its gags. For those who can catch on and learn to accept its ironic and sometimes cynical lessons, they transition with a smile and glass half full attitude. While those who miss the punch line can feel mocked, out-of-sorts, and even regret their decision to call it quits. Here’s a short list of cruel jokes that retirement may throw at you.

Joke #1: Retirement Means You Don’t Have To Work

Ha! Retirement’s greatest paradox is that the very thing people think they are leaving behind is required to propel them forward. Nothing about retirement is automatic. It doesn’t just unfold into this happy place where everything is fun, easy, and happy.

This contradiction doesn’t always make it into traditional retirement planning conversations and can leave some people feeling like they just got a pie to the face. Having whip cream all over your face is hilarious to outsiders, but isn’t always funny to you, unless you’re prepared for it. That means retirees need to work on developing the right attitude about retirement and be willing to work at strengthening their relationships, finding new and exciting things to do in order to stay relevant and connected, not to mention making time to keep mentally and physically healthy.

Joke #2: Retirement Allows You To Become Healthier And Happier

People often enter retirement with big aspirations to do things better or different. “I’m going to cook healthier… Start exercising more… Visit these wonderful places… or Finally write or fix __.” Problem is, retirement doesn’t come with any magical fairy dust that motivates people to make these changes. It’s somewhat comical that folks who have made it through 55 – 65 years of life still assume, “Things will be better and different this time.”

That’s not to say that people can’t make changes, however, the inside joke is that retirement tends to make you more of what you already are. That means if you eat poorly, avoid exercise, and don’t schedule outings with friends, you’re more likely to continue down that path rather than charter a brand new course. Therefore, retirees who want to have the last laugh, need to be proactive about starting new habits and behaviors now instead of putting it off until later.

Joke #3 Retirement Planning Takes Place In A Fancy Binder

We have created a society that worships the dollar amount it takes to create the perfect retirement. Yes, money has an important role in retirement, but it’s essential for new and soon-to-be retirees to look beyond the numbers and consider the mental, social, physical, and spiritual aspects of everyday life in retirement.

A person may retire with all the financial resources needed to maintain a certain standard of living, but money won’t buy love, health, family or friends. The shape of one’s life and legacy is dictated by what they do, rather than what they have. Thus, retirees should avoid building their retirement plan on the shifting sands of numbers, charts and graphs, and instead take the time and energy to plan for specific ways to replace their work identity, fill their time, as well as, stay healthy, relevant, and connected.

Joke #4: Retirement Is The Final Destination

Many people think that once they reach retirement, they have achieved life’s most precious goal and can put things on cruise control. However, once you walk through retirement’s door, there is only one guarantee that comes with it. That at some point you will die. While that may not sound humorous and can feel like the perfect conversation to avoid, taking the time to explore it can have a positive impact on your spiritual beliefs and the type of legacy you want to leave.

Whether you grew up religious or not, follow Buddha, or a universal truth, retirement can bring up situations and questions that requires people to look outside of themselves. This is important because how you deal with tough situations can play a major role in the legacy you leave. Therefore, instead of assuming retirement is the finish line, dedicate some time and resources to exploring your spiritual beliefs and how you want others to remember you in both good and bad times.

Too often, retirement is portrayed as being all fun and games. Like some sort of utopian phase of life, void of pain, suffering and heartache. But there’s much more to it, and by understanding that retirement takes work, requires new habits, and isn’t just about money, retirees can avoid falling victim to its strange sense of humor.