At this time of the year, I am reminded of the fresh group of retirees who are ending their final year of teaching. In fact, I attended a wonderful retirement party at the beginning of this month for a dear former colleague who is entering the blissful golden age of retired living.
While everyone’s journey forward is quite individualized and personal, there are some needed understandings to optimize the full benefits of how drastically life is about to change.
For me, it has been 4 years since I retired and my life is still evolving. Here are some of my thoughts about my journey thus far. And while mine may be very different from the next person, there are some commonalities I feel are worth sharing:
First, Embrace Inconsistency: Realize those first months and possibly, first years are going to be quite inconsistent. You will find yourself jumping here and there with sometimes no focus and no consistency. But that is O.K. You are either going to want to do everything at once that you have always wanted to do. Or you are going to just sit and tell yourself, “Maybe tomorrow”. This flipping back and forth might be a daily occurrence. And you need not let it drive you mad.
Second, Find Purpose: Some of you might just decide to sit and pause and seriously ask yourselves “What now?” “What the heck am I going to do the rest of my life?” I firmly believe it is human nature to have a purpose and a goal that we constantly work towards. Retirement tends to take away the focus of “a” goal at times. But it is o.k. Think and rethink what the next step is. Start out working on it, change it up, fine tune it or just keep asking yourself, “What now?”. That is the joy of retirement. I would just caution you to not over think it. Relax more and go with the flow.
Third, Understand that Retirement equals Possibilities: Believe it and embrace it. While it is good to have choices, for those who require structure, There are going to be possibilities and opportunities to do a lot of the things you have always wanted to do but time constraints did not allow them. Start structuring in the desires of your heart and follow through with them. You will find new passions and sometimes unexpected passions that will fill you with joy.
Fourth, Don’t let life just happen: There are some people who get depressed during retirement. They feel the best is behind them. Work did define them to a certain extent. And now they feel a bit displaced. Believe me, this is not a good road to travel. Choose to be excited. Choose to understand there are so many parts of your creativity that is waiting to burst forward. Start some projects that you always wanted to do. Do something totally out of your box and maybe find you might start a whole new career. For me, I miss the daily interactions with colleagues. And writing this blog gives me ample opportunity to connect, share my opinion and just let things out. I love it!!! I encourage you to find out what you “want” to do in life going forward. It may not come quickly. It may not come clearly, but give yourself time.
Last, Have Fun: Whatever you do, please do not look back and think of all of the “I could haves”, “I should haves”, or “I would haves” if only…….. Life will make you crazy in looking back. In fact, the only time we should spend in looking back is to aid us in continuing to forge our path forward. Enjoy the life you are in. If you feel you should have saved more, ask yourself what are some ways to cut back now or generate extra income. You will be surprised. If you are bored and feel you are getting in a rut, take a class, join a social group, plan outings with friends. or just get out of the house. Make a reasonable, workable routine for yourself. If you miss your old life, volunteer in some way that will keep you connected for a bit. But have fun! It is a choice. And sometimes, for some of us, a bit of an effort.
Retirement is a part of life you have earned. You have worked through years of hard work and diligence to get to this point. Enjoy it, don’t fret it. Embrace it, don’t reject it. And most importantly, don’t spend a lot of time asking yourself, “What do I do now?” Just get out there and do it! And for those of you who are still in the work force and feel this blog does not address you….my thoughts to you are, “Hang in there. The best is yet to come!”