Are you afraid to retire because of peer pressure?
Unless you’ve learned to successfully conquer peer pressure, you are still conforming to its negative ideology, including behaving in ways that your peer group thinks you should about your retirement.
Before the peer group, your life was blissful. You pooped your pants, grinned for pictures with spaghetti sauce all over your face, and squished mud pies. You hadn’t a care in the world because all that mattered was Mom and Dad, your woobie blanket, and getting your way.
Then one day your world changed when you began your first day of school.
Heart pounding, holding back tears, you looked the menace in the face while it stared at you with judgmental eyes. You could feel it breathing its fiery influence over you.
You came face to face with the evil dragon known as peer pressure.
Many years have gone by since your school days.
However, peer pressure may still have you in its grip.
Let’s take a look at the positive and negative sides of peer pressure.
Then, I’ll discuss how peer pressure may be affecting your retirement plans and what you can do about it.
The positive side of peer pressure.
As children, we have an emotional need to belong.
It’s perfectly normal. And, it’s okay.
It’s part of the typical cycle of growing up.
Because of this strong desire to fit in, many times children will conform to what the peer group considers acceptable.
Kids often go to extremes in adopting the same styles and mannerisms in order to be accepted by the rest of the group.
To illustrate, you can probably remember a time when your haircut looked like the rest of the girls, you wore certain clothing styles, or brought a sack lunch to school because that was popular or trending with your peers.
For instance, I remember bringing powdered chocolate milk mix in a small Tic-Tac-like container to school because most of the other kids in my class were doing it.
It turned out to be an excellent idea and definitely improved lunchtime.
It helped my classmates and me deal with the warm milk teachers forced us to drink before we could leave the lunchroom. It turned our tepid white milk into a tolerable chocolate drink.
That example shows how the peer group supported each other and resolved an unpleasant situation.
With that said, peer pressure is a healthy part of growing up, and regardless of your age, the influence of peers can be supportive and positive.
Peer pressure can encourage better habits such as:
- good grooming
- reaching goals
The peer group may also help to motivate you to:
- play a musical instrument
- read better books
- learn a new skill
The negative side of peer pressure.
Problems arise when peer pressure becomes negative.
It often occurs in adolescence when the peer group tries to influence you in ways that go against your better judgment.
This is when it starts to become apparent, particularly to parents, whether or not a young person can make their own decisions and not follow the crowd.
For example, we’ve heard the expression from our mothers, “Would you jump off of a cliff if everyone else was doing it?”
The expression is meant to make us think and use good judgment.
Adolescent negative peer pressure includes:
- excessive drinking
- having casual sex
Negative peer pressure doesn’t end there. Peer groups can influence negative behaviors such as shoplifting, sneaking out of the house, and cutting class.
With the help and encouragement of families, adolescents with a strong set of values and core beliefs can separate themselves from the negative influence of their peers.
More and more, they think for themselves and the peer group becomes less meaningful.
They make decisions based on what is good for them as an individual. They consider how group mentality affects the direction they want to take in their lives.
Sometimes peer pressure does not dissolve.
Adults well into middle-age and beyond exhibit behaviors that demonstrate that they are still worried about what others are thinking of them.
Unfortunately, they still feel the need to fit in and conform to group standards even though their gut feelings tell them otherwise.
They make unwise choices that ultimately lead to unhappiness.
Let’s examine how adult peer pressure pertains to retirement.
Peer pressure and retirement.
What drives you when it comes to making choices about your retirement?
To find out if you’re suffering from retirement peer pressure, ask yourself the following questions?
-Do I feel the need to conform to social norms?
-Does my peer group make me feel like I need to keep up with the “Joneses” in maintaining a lifestyle that is no longer serving me?
-Do I give in to peer pressure and do things that I really don’t want to do in order to avoid the uncomfortable feeling of being different from my friends and family?
-Am I more concerned with image than what excites me and my partner?
-Do I succumb to the status quo because I would feel self-conscious among my peers if they scoffed at my retirement plans?
-Do I hide my true feelings because I don’t want to be considered odd?
Believe in yourself. Be independent. Practice self-reliance.
My husband and I have always been independent and self-reliant.
Long before retirement, we made decisions that were unpopular with our peers.
Namely, we got married young and started a family before our friends and family. When our babies arrived, we secured them in infant car seats long before it became normal to do so.
I became a housewife, while my peers were getting jobs.
In mid-life, we had more children. That’s unusual among our peers. Many told us we were nuts!
Later on, we moved a great distance away from the life we had become accustomed to because we wanted to follow a dream. We retired to a cold climate, which many of our peer group still consider a strange curiosity.
All of the above decisions initiated accusatory questions, negative attitudes, and eye rolls from our peers.
But we didn’t let peer pressure keep us from our desire to move and live the retirement life of our dreams!
You shouldn’t either!
How to stay strong when facing retirement peer pressure.
The easiest way to stay strong is to stop allowing others to influence you about your retirement.
Sometimes that’s easier said than done when surrounded by people that don’t agree with you. However, remember that it’s your retirement, not theirs.
Also, it’s a lot easier to stay strong if you and your spouse are on the same page when it comes to the direction you both want to take. If you’re not quite on the same page yet, see my article on how to achieve a Win-Win solution to retirement disagreements.
Avoid group-think. Don’t let a negative social group influence you or hold you back from your wildest dreams.
Surround yourself with people that think the way you do – people who encourage you to achieve your retirement goals regardless of how outlandish your plans may sound.
Consider the following tips for conquering retirement peer pressure:
- Determine what makes you feel good about yourself
- Ask yourself what it is that you really value and want out of retirement
- What type of legacy do you want to leave
- Let your heart be your guide
- Push away thoughts of what others may think about your decisions
- Tell yourself that it’s your time to have the life you want
- Make eye contact with your naysayers
- Be confident when talking to others about your retirement plans
- Work towards making your retirement dreams happen
- Believe in your own judgment
- Hold yourself in high regard
- Stick to your own principles
Everyone deals with peer pressure. It gets a grip in childhood because of a natural need to belong. It maintains its hold until sometime in adolescence when you develop your own set of values and core beliefs. When that happens, peer pressure diminishes.
Yet, some amount of peer pressure continues throughout adulthood.
Peer pressure can be positive when it helps you achieve your goals. It becomes negative when you succumb to behaviors that don’t represent your true self. Peer pressure can cause problems with retirement plans because it makes you afraid to follow your heart.
Knowing yourself, affirming your decisions, and having confidence in your retirement plans will conquer peer pressure.
Updated for clarity 07/07/21.
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Has your peer group made you feel like your retirement plans are wrong? Let us know. Leave a comment below.