Press Office


Working through retirement

Work may be hard but achieving a satisfying, fulfilling retirement may be even harder work. A new book offers timely advice for revered football manager Sir Alex Ferguson as he announces his retirement.

A self-help guide from Newcastle University psychologist Dr Derek Milne provides an upbeat and constructive approach to coping successfully with life after work.

Presenting retirement as a journey which needs to be worked on in order to get the most out of it, The Psychology of Retirement, examines how pressures on today’s society are impacting on our retirement.

Working for longer, the increased cost of living and an unrealistic expectation of what life after work will be like means many of us are struggling to cope during retirement.

In his new book, Dr Milne also outlines how approximately 25% of those who retire will experience significant personal distress, an experience made worse by being the very opposite of what they expected.

Dr Milne explains: “It is natural to assume that retirement will be a bed of roses, a long-awaited escape from the demands of work. But we too readily overlook the psychological benefits of work, whilst preparing too little for retirement. Work typically provides us with status, meaning, identity, structure, and much more. If we simply stop working we can experience a dreadful personal crisis when we retire.”

Dr Milne says that almost all who retire will find some part of the transition to life after work surprisingly tricky. Loss of status, identity confusion, lacking a sense of purpose and difficulties in establishing new roles at home - especially if one partner retires well before the other – are all contributing factors.

Dr Milne wrote the book as he went through a gradual retirement process, keeping in mind advice that the best way to manage leaving employment was to ‘never retire’.  He finally gave up work as the Director of the Newcastle University Doctorate in Clinical Psychology training programme last year.

His book is the first self-help guide to successful life after work that is based on proven psychological coping strategies. It offers a constructive approach to coping successfully with retirement, drawing on over 30 years of clinical practice in the NHS. He suggests that the ‘triple whammy’ can be countered by developing a sound grasp of what is happening during retirement.

“People approaching retirement need to consider taking up a new activity or committing to developing an existing skill,” Dr Milne says. “I have always played tennis, and have started playing golf in my retirement. There’s a lot in common, but also some fresh challenges. It’s about enjoying the journey rather than the outcome.  The work doesn’t stop when work stops if you are to enjoy retirement.”

The Psychology of Retirement draws on case studies, the latest research and the best available theories, and suggests the most effective strategies for coping with the transition out of the workforce. It is intended primarily as a guide for anyone who has recently retired or who is anticipating retirement.

Other coping strategies include learning how to reframe situations in a positive light, developing concentration skills and committing to lifelong learning.

Book details: The Psychology of Retirement, written by Derek Milne and published by Wiley-Blackwell


published on: 13 May 2013