I'm not talking about generic fear.
What is "The Fear" which I am talking about.
Well. I have been unemployed for 2 periods in my life.
2 years each period x 2 times.
Everytime I leave my job, I feel "The Fear".
I reckon that many jobless, unemployed, retired, semi-retired, or even people taking a sabatical all feel this fear sometime or another.
People may look at retired or unemployed people with envy. Like, how lucky it is to be taking a break.
But after the first 1-2 months, "The Fear" sets in.
It is this sense of insecurity, this emptiness, the feeling of being lost.
I don't think everyone will feel it. But I think many will.
Cos most people live their whole lives around their jobs.
It is very easy to just wake up, wash up, change and leave the house to go to work.
Then come back, eat and wash up and sleep and tomorrow is another day.
It is like a life schedule for the masses for around 40 years of your life.
Then suddenly, you stop. Or you take a break, or retire.
The first few weeks is nice. Like what you would do when on leave. You go on trips, play some golf, do the usual entertainment which you normally do.
Then when things settle down, many people realize that. You can't be playing golf, going on trips and all that for the rest of your life. There is actually an empty space left over when you leave your job. Cos now, 70% of your waking time has nothing scheduled for it. When it used to be... work...
Now as I say, some folks may not feel this fear.
I know I felt it for both the periods of my unemployment. But I recognized it the second time cos I had the experience the first time.
This fear is an accumulation of
1) the lack of things to do, unless you planned some activities before you left.
2) the loss of constant income, even if you have passive income which covers expenses, there is a sense of insecurity cos many people have lived their whole lives with active income. (Unless you really have millions in investments, then there might not be any insecurity)
3) little/no friends to spend your time with. They might still be working, unable, unwilling to retire.
4) potential feelings of worthlessness cos, no income, no peer/boss recognition, not doing anything of "value". Regardless how you feel about your job, there is always "value" cos someone is consuming your work. So when you perform a task, there is deemed value/recognition from others.
Many people spend this time taking care of their kids. This helps to alleviate this fear cos there's something to do. This may also give feelings of self worth. But after a while, the kids may grow up. Some parents may become clingy to their kids cos the kids have been their whole lives especially if they have been home makers.
So what can we do about "The Fear"
Mainly, recognize it and plan around it.
For financial security, we need to recognize that your investments are sufficient. That the passive income is enough for our low levels of spending. We can put to practice before we leave our jobs. By using ONLY our passive income and putting 100% of our earned income into our investments. IF you can survive for 1 years on passive income only, you COULD get the confidence. However, it is COULD, only. Cos when you leave your income generating activity, insecurity is different from actual finances. Meaning, you may have money but you may feel insecure cos the future is still uncertain.
Lack of friends, well, make new friends. Those who are retired. There are activity groups around Singapore in forums and stuff. There are groups of retirees who hang around and chat and do activities like play mahjong and stuff. The only issue is that they are mainly more senior. Like 55 years old and above. You may need to get used to doing things by yourself. Or if you are lucky, your spouse has decided to retire at the same time as you.
Lack of things to do. Well, this is quite a simple solution. But not simple to do. Find activities. But many people define activities as entertainment and needs money to do. Many people sign up for gym membership and hang around the gym for the whole day. That's an idea. Or you could watch movies the whole day and rot on the couch. That's cool too. Or go jogging. This issue is highly corelated to the above one cos if you have friends, you won't be as bored. Else spend some time in the library or read up new stuff on the internet and learn about things. Learn to cook so that you can cook for your partner, etc.
Value is also another hard thing to retrieve. Cos during this period, many people will not be contributing anything, in terms of money, society, stuff, whatever. As I mentioned, this will be easier if the couple has young kids cos the retired person can be the primary caregiver, cook, send the kids to school, etc. But taking me as an example, I don't provide much value. Ok, I send my wife to work and cook for her. But these things can be easily outsourced with uber and buying food from downstairs.
For this, I recommend folks to be more at ease with yourself. You aren't valuable cos you are providing a value. You are valuable cos you are you. And you family and friends will love you regardless. Else, they aren't really your friends.
Else what many other people do is... well go back to work.
My mum had that issue when she retired. After a few months or a year, I forgot, she went back to work. The boredom got to her. Life was nothing much cos she had spent her whole life working. But after a few years of working again, she retired again and soon had grand kids to take care of so now she's happily retired.
Other folks have gone to work at McDonalds, BK, as cleaners, etc.
Now there are those people who really work as waiters or cleaners for a living. And there are also people who work there to pass time. Don't doubt it. It's true. I know of anti-PAP people who would say who would want to work at 65 years old if you could just do nothing. The truth is, I know people who work as cleaners even though their son has a high earning job and has requested his mum to quit. She rejected his offer cos she wants to pass time and meet her friends. Same as the issues I have mentioned above.
So yes, there are people who choose to work in manual labour jobs for fun or to pass time.
And I also do not deny that there are people who work in such jobs to make a living.
But please, let's agree that there are these 2 sets of people.
Ok anyway so today's post is about "The Fear"
Quick summary is, many people who leave their jobs will feel it.
It is a bunch of insecurities like lack of work, friends, purpose, etc.
It will not be easy to overcome. Else just go back to work or take up some part time work.
People with kids may have an easier time. People with lots of money may have an easier time.
People with many retired friends may have a better time.
The best way to plan for this is to have other activities besides your work to fulfill your life.
Example is volunteering on weekends before you quit your job.
Have other avenues of income like part time gym instructor, tuition teacher, then after quitting your job you can switch to this soft income on a semi retired basis.
Exercise, or learn to exercise without gym memberships.
Important to fill your life with other inexpensive activities.
Important to be comfortable with yourself and your own value of your own life.
Confident of your value as a companion to your friends and family.
Be happy even if you are doubtful.
Anyone who reads this post and feels "The Fear" can feel free to email me to talk more about it. Sometimes all you need is a listening ear.