First thing this morning I read another thought-provoking post on Lynne Spreen’s blog, Any Shiny Thing, about Hillary Clinton’s recent medical challenges. In the article, Spreen speculated she may be contemplating retiring from public life, in part because “Some things are more important than being Leader of the Free World. Like sleeping in, or turning off your phone for a couple days and catching up on the last few years’ worth of movies or books.”
Today I said farewell to a treasured colleague who is retiring after thirty-seven years, seven months, and two days, of working for the same company. She walked out of the office for the last time and grabbed on to that brass ring she has worked long and hard to attain.
Gerry and I are talking a lot about retirement lately. I lost count of the number of times over the past couple of weeks, as we had time away from work to do things we enjoy, that one of us commented “this is what it will be like when we retire”. All of a sudden, it’s like when you’re pregnant and you begin to see other pregnant women everywhere; I’m seeing retirees all over the place these days.
Take note retirees: not only do I see you, I’m also watching and learning from you.
And I’m seeing that the concept of retirement is as varied and diverse as we are. Where one may choose to live in a retirement community in someplace hot and sunny, another may cringe at leaving behind long-time family and friends to relocate. Some folks who live in harsher climates may choose the snowbird life, traveling to warmer climates during the winter months, others may relish time doing things at and around their home.
Many people are not so much retiring as they are changing direction and focus. For some, it’s taking up new hobbies or getting back into hobbies they had to set aside to some extent during their working years. Others relish the opportunity to take up volunteer work of some sort, and there are those who choose to embark on a new career in a field they are passionate about.
For others, retirement can be a challenge. There may be concerns about health, finances, family, that keep them from experiencing the abundant retiree lifestyle dream we’ve been sold for so many years.
I wrote an article for a local paper some time ago about a man who went back to school after he retired and became a librarian, a career he enjoyed well into his 80s. I can’t help but wonder if the fact that he was doing something he loved contributed to his longevity. In the article I made reference to an actuarial study that stated:
The conclusion and recommendation of the report is that whenever possible, we plan our careers and finances such that we can retire at age 55, thereby increasing the changes that we will live a long and productive life well into our 80s.
As I draw nearer to my own retirement date I can’t help but feel exhilarated about the possibilities that await when I’m not tied to corporate life and the decision as to how I spend my time is my own. For example, there’s a facilitator’s manual on my desk for a workshop I intend on offering in the spring. More about that to come, suffice to say for now that doing these workshops is one of the goals I have for retirement.
The challenge I face, in what I intend to be my final year in corporate life, is to take time to enjoy the journey and remain flexible. I’ve got my dreams and plans, but I know full well that one’s direction can change in a second with a late-night phone call or an unexpected diagnosis, and that it’s vital that we remain flexible in those moments.
Today, on this fourth day of a new year, I’m thankful that early retirement is an option for me; I’m excited about the work in front of me and thinking about the legacy I’ll leave behind; but I’m also ever-mindful that, as my dad and Robbie Burns used to say: “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley”.
And I’m trusting. Just trusting.
As I follow your contemplation toward retirement, I am reminded of my own journey. It is a huge decision and you are wise to give it due thought as you are doing. For me , it started with pangs of longing to have time to do the other things in my life that brought me joy. I began to think of it in terms of a ratio- 20 is ready, 80% is not..until , after a few years, when 80% was ready and 20% was not. Bingo. it was time. I’m glad I gave it the time I needed to process my decision. I loved my nursing career and grieved leaving it but when I did, I knew I was ready. I chose to leave when I was “at the top of my game” and I never looked back. I simply cannot wipe the smile off my face when people ask me how I like retirement. I wish the same for you. xo
I feel fortunate to have the luxury of time as I consider retirement, as you did, Kathy. I’ve seen too many good people forced into retirement before they’re ready due to business cutbacks and downsizing.
Thank you for your good wishes. I suspect I’ll be of the “cannot wipe the smile off my face when people as me how I like retirement” too!
Hi Linda, thanks for the mention. I am beginning to feel so strongly that we definitely do need a new name for retirement, because nobody “retires” these days. We just transition to something else, and the pace may be different, but we’re still busy. I live in a 55+ community and everybody I know says they don’t know how they ever found time for a fulltime job. Even if health is poor, technology enables community (thank God for this improvement in the world.) Congratulations on your upcoming life change. I know it will be rich and fulfilling. Give us updates as you transition, please? Would be so interesting.
I hear you, Lynne! I hear from so many retirees the same thing: that they don’t know how they found time to have a full-time job. Isn’t that a wonderful “problem” to have in retirement? I’m thinking a series on gearing up to retire may be in order!
I think one needs something to retire to. For me it was travel and birding and time for children and grandchildren. My first retirement lasted almost 9 years, now I’ve retired to a new life and looking for ways to make it not retiring.
Pat, I’ve heard rumblings of your new life and I’m looking forward to learning more about this next phase in your life.
In many ways, I cannot relate to your retirement. I started back to work at age 50, (a year and a half ago) after being a stay-at-home mom for many years. I like the idea of working well past the typical retirement age because I love my job. For you, having worked many years, I can imagine the possibilities are exciting. I think keeping a sense of purpose until our dying day is the best way to stave off the aging process. I love that we live in a free country that affords us so many opportunities. I look forward to observing your life-transition, Linda. Happy 2013. The best is yet to be!
In a sense you are doing what I am gearing up for: transitioning to a new phase in your life. I completely understand how you might be thinking of working at your new career for many years to come! That’s my plan when I transition as well. No rocking chairs for me!
Happy 2013 to you too, Grace! There are exciting things ahead for you this year.