Retirement should be an
amazing time. Prepare to explore new interests, savor quiet moments, experience
for the first time the true meaning of stress free, take full advantage of
mid-week specials and in general live life in a way that best suits you. What
is it like to control how you spend your time, to do what you want when you
want? Won’t it be glorious to find out!
We all deserve to live the
dream. So how do we?
After a decade of comments
from readers, diverse feedback from fellow retirees and lessons learned
navigating my own retirement I believe the key to a successful migration from
work to a happy retirement is preparation. Don’t hope to just flip a switch and
smoothly move to retired life. It takes effort, planning, adaptability, curiosity,
perseverance and patience.
Retirement is a transition
Over the years I have heard
from many negotiating the passage from fulltime work to fulltime retirement. A
common theme is challenges abound. Big changes in lifestyle take time to
negotiate. And the move into retirement is a big change.
Who will you be once you exit
your career? Many define their essence – who they are – based upon their work role.
Leaving that behind can prove confusing and dismaying. The job always sort of
told you what you should be doing. Once retired your time is truly your own –
do you know what you will do?
When it comes to retirement
we have no past experience to draw from. This is the first time we are doing it.
You may discover early on that your expectations of how things will be are not
exactly on target. Learning to adapt is a valuable skill for the new retiree
and the old retiree as well. If one path does not pan out, don’t fret – try
The successful retiree asks
important questions before retirement arrives, hopefully staying ahead of the
game with a little foresight. Answers don’t always come quickly or easily but it
is important to ask sooner rather than later.
Get used to the fact it will
take time to find your retirement groove.
Retirement can be lonely
No matter how well you
prepare there will be moments when you feel alone. I think this is typical at
any stage in life but maybe felt a bit more acutely once you retire. Prior to
retirement should you find you feel alone you need only wait until Monday to return
to the comradery of co-workers. Not so once you retire.
To varying degrees we are all
social creatures. While for the most part I happily savor silent moments by
myself my wife appreciates more interaction with others. Even I realize without
engaging I get a little slow. The old brain loses its resilience. After a few
years into retired life I found I needed something more, something stimulating
to fire up my routine.
For both of us a part time
job fit the bill. The missus keeps active working at a local law firm while I
spend three days a week pouring wine. Both of us get the interaction we need
and have far better stories to share at the end of the day.
A part time job works for us
but may not be your thing. Whatever your remedy retirement is more fun when you
share moments with others. There are clubs, volunteer opportunities, mutual interest
groups, and neighbors. My wife has a group of friends that regularly get
together to hike nearby parks. Keeping active helps avoid boredom. Having
someone to share with – ups as well as downs – is rewarding and just plain healthy.
It’s up to you to fashion a unique retirement
We are different people with
diverse wants and needs. Each possesses a unique blueprint for what makes us
truly happy. In retirement we begin building a foundation for that life best
fitted to our individual passions.
What will your retirement look like?
You might discover useful
tidbits from current retirees happy to share specifics of their own journey. It
helps to know where they experienced challenges – perhaps you can avoid
repeating the same. Understanding what works for them might give insight into
similar avenues for you.
Plenty of retirement information
is available via numerous books and blogs and magazines. Typically you will
find useful nuggets of insight to assist in your journey.
But I have found no one else’s
retirement is a perfect prescription for me. Decisions of how I want to live,
what I want to do, how I want to do it are all uniquely mine. I entered
retirement with certain preconceived notions of what to expect. Many proved far
from reality. But that is okay.
It is in the ability to adapt
and adjust that my retirement has evolved and improved. Today I am at the point
where my days are occupied doing things I like. I am no longer driven by a need
to succeed but instead just enjoy the moments. My wife and I share common
interests but also have our own and we allow each other the freedom to pursue
those individual diversions. I look forward to each day free from stress and
happy to be alive.
For me that happiness is what
a successful retirement is all about. I expect things will continue to evolve
as the years add on and my tastes and interests change. I don’t know what
tomorrow will bring but I am curious and optimistic.