ALOHA FROM JENNIE: A couple of coincidental topics came up this weekend which served as the impetus to the musings of this article. First, a neighbor’s long time pet cat died, prompting their Facebook posting of raw emotions, which reminded me to cherish those that we have for as long as we have them, whether human or furbabies.
Then I read an interesting and articulate blog article entitled ‘I’m Retired – Now What?’ at www.life-after-60.com where I was reminded that retirement may not be all that it’s cracked up to be. We all look forward to it, but may not have given some thought to what such a lifestyle change may actually mean to one’s emotional wellbeing.
Lastly, I had lunch with a friend who is in his later 60’s, the age where one seriously contemplates retirement and all that it means. After listening to this well established health professional wonder out loud whether retirement would mean certain stagnation and loss of purpose, I began to realize that picking an appropriate retirement point is more difficult than it seems.
For a lot of us, the retirement event is cut and dried, driven by health or financial means. For those of us who toil away at physical jobs or complete civil service, retirement is simply when it’s time, for example at age 65, and one makes do on a fixed income and enjoys one’s pets, gardening, grandchildren, social events, television viewing, and perhaps some traveling if there’s extra resources.
For others, picking the right time is more interesting. For example, there are military or aviation personnel who after decades of service retire at a relatively young age and can really develop ‘second’ careers. For the wealthier seniors, the greater options can actually make the decision more difficult. If your identity has been wrapped up in a dynamic profession and being the family provider, and you’re used to a fast paced environment and lifestyle, it’s hard without a crystal ball to determine the right time to retire.
Your intellectual brain tells you that it needs to be soon enough so that you are healthy and able to do all the items on your ‘bucket list’, but the unknowns are daunting. Can one walk away from a career that has been built over decades, and all the fulfillment and social interaction that it brings? What if there aren’t enough stimulating new experiences to fill the void? How much golf can a retiree play before perishing from boredom? The retired blogger’s perspective linked above was inspirational; accept that you’ll go through a ‘grieving’ process after retirement, as you will feel a loss of identity and routine.
However, if you are a self-motivated and clever individual, which we’d like to all think that we are, you’ll accept a new challenge to stretch, learn, experience, and accomplish. To do anything else would be to waste the opportunities that you’ve earned after decades of hard work.
The time to retire is the moment that you're ready to start devoting the same drive and enthusiasm that you had for your worklife to a fullfilling second 'career' of family, volunteerism, new knowledge and adventures. I’d be interested to know what was on author Ian Fleming’s mind when he titled one of his James Bond novels “You Only Live Twice”.
I'd love to hear insights from any of you who are post-retirement, how did you decide when to retire, and was it the right decision for you? Any pleasant surprises or unexpected regrets?