I am fully amazed at the number of people I know who, approaching retirement age, are actually conflicted about the next step. People with full pensions and few money worries. People who have enjoyed lucrative and satisfactory careers. People who have experienced great success and even acclaim.
People who are apparently SO defined by their work they simply cannot fathom a life without it.
Fully amazed, I am.
I guess because that is SO not me. I love my work and have for 30 years. As a matter of fact I love it so much I told the owners of my radio station I’ll never leave and they’ll have to hook a cane around my neck and drag me out of there kicking and screaming if they want me gone.
But I’ll only kick and scream for a day. Then I will happily embrace the next phase of my life, whatever it may be. I’ve only worked “for the man” (and by that I mean a job where pension is deducted) for about a decade of my life so believe me, my personal pension is diddly squat with literally no hope of getting “topped up”. So yeah, I’m on the “Freedom 85” plan. I may well be the oldest DJ on the planet (unless they use that cane).
But if not, well, I’m okay with that too. Because I do know that I don’t need much. I’m a gypsy at heart and could live in the same cut-off jeans and flip-flops for the rest of of my life. Might be a tad cold in Canadian winter but I’ll cross that bridge when it arrives. The other thing I know is that every day is a new adventure. And my adventure is in no way defined by my work. It may be augmented by my work and supported by my work but I am not my work. I am an adventurer.
So what about these folks who are terrified of letting go? Who hang on past 65 (or whatever year is their magic pension number) simply because they don’t know what they will DO once what they’ve done for a very long time comes to a conclusion.
Hmmm. See what I mean about first world problems?
I could be wrong but I’m pretty sure these problems didn’t exist a century ago. They don’t exist in third world countries and they don’t exist with your average blue-collar worker who cannot wait to retire.
They exist in first world success stories. Which is in itself the biggest paradox, isn’t it? Those who MUST work can’t wait to retire. Those who love work … dread it.
So I must ask – what is it exactly that you dread?
Do you dread the lack of actual employment? That first morning when you have nowhere to go, no dragons to slay and no victories to celebrate?
If so, take your talents and volunteer them for free some place where they can be utilized and appreciated. My friend T who hasn’t yet retired is already doing that. She flies to third world countries yearly to help a random business (could be just about anything) become more productive and profitable. She shares her wisdom and experience and gets an adventure in the process. Win-win.
My sister the high school principal retired quite young (early 50s) so she put herself on the supply list and got back into the classroom. She did this not to rob some young teacher from possible employment but because she taught German and her ilk were few and far between. She did it because they asked and she LOVED it. Because for years she had been an administrator, diplomat, peacekeeper and bureaucrat. Suddenly she was back where she started – in the classroom. With kids. Eventually she wound that new (old) career down and retired completely. And now (she’s still not 65) she is content with her new life. Her new freedom. Her new identity. What she did, she did. And what she is now doing, she is doing. Whole-heartedly.
But my other pal D is not quite so excited about this next phase. She loves her work, she loves the power that comes with her work, she loves the accolades that come with her work and she actually just plain old loves what she does.
What D doesn’t love so much is her life. She loves aspects of her life (the benefits of making a very good living for a long time) but she doesn’t love her marriage and she doesn’t love the prospect of living in that un-loving situation full-time. She doesn’t love the prospect of “no more winning”. D loves winning! But if she is not winning in work and not winning at home then what the heck is D going to do to win? To achieve that great big high that comes with winning? With succeeding? With achieving?
I might suggest that D either A) work on her marriage or B) get out of her marriage or C) design a new life based not on winning but based on living and experiencing and enjoying and giving back.
But hey, what the heck do I know?
What I do know is that anyone who moans about impending retirement or worries about impending retirement or even bellyaches one teensy little bit about impending retirement … anyone with a full pension and a bank account full of dough and a healthy body and an intact imagination … anyone who still thinks THIS problem is important is lounging in a misguided belief that HER worth in society is irreplaceable. Lounging in the misguided belief that she will be diminished when she is no longer “viable”. Lounging in the misconception that without her title she is LESS. Lounging in first world purgatory.
Hey, people write blogs about this shit. Even full books. There is “industry” in dealing with retirement.
Because if you are one of those extremely fortunate beings who does not have to toil until you’re 85 or dead, then please embrace your next adventure.
You are whatever YOU create in this next phase. YOU are pliable and viable and open to new experience. YOU are allowed to enjoy and embrace your twilight years, whatever they may bring. YOU SHOULD enjoy and embrace your twilight years, whatever they may bring.
IF you get to “retirement age” and you’re still alive and healthy and you actually have a future (unlike your peers who died too soon or the poor souls who didn’t experience your love of career) and you’re not starving and the only dilemma facing you is “how am I gonna do this” … well, may I respectfully suggest you acknowledge that your problem is one of the first-word variety. Nobody except your equally self-absorbed cronies gives a shit and YOU should probably find something more worthwhile (and enlightened) to concern yourself with.
Be grateful you got what you got. Did what you did. Achieved what you achieved.
Let the next generation have their go and GO live (and love) your first world retirement.
Trust me, you’ll be dead soon enough and all your “concerns” will be dust in the wind. Wake up! And be grateful you get to retire.