I love retirement. It’s absolutely the best job I’ve ever had. While that may sound like a little bit of a contradiction, it really is the secret to making your retirement as good as it can be. I feel very sorry for people who get to this stage in their life and are disappointed and, worse, bored. I have no idea how you can be bored in retirement if you approach it in the right way. And, if you were a valued worker, you probably did something that many people fail to do in retirement: plan properly. Not just for the money that they will need in retirement but for the extra time that they’ll have. I am happy to say that we sought the services of a financial counselor all through our working years and were fairly certain that we were ready to face the day when our working careers would come to an end. I’m just as pleased that I took it upon myself to anticipate what retirement would be like and plan for the day when I would wake up with no appointments or conference calls, no reports or performance reviews, and not a single person telling me what I should be doing with my time! I love retirement!
My wife and I were determined to start travelling as soon as possible. I was 66 when I retired and, at that stage of your life, you realize you’ve got to do it while you’re still able. That was very clear as we looked closely at our fellow travelers. We have been extremely fortunate to see things we never thought we’d be able to see. Places we had only read about. But, by making the most out of each journey, we’ve been able to see the Vatican, Paris, Venice, London, Jerusalem and the Parthenon. I don’t say this to brag. That’s not the purpose here. I say this because we were able to do this through careful planning and wisely choosing how we planned our travels. We have been incredibly fortunate to have our health and it’s one more reason that I love retirement!
Just like everyone else, the pandemic put an end to travel and the elevated risk of being in confined quarters is still impacting the amount of travel and socializing that people are doing. What we discovered, however, is that you don’t have to go abroad to enjoy traveling. There are great places to see in this country and we have enjoyed every part of this wonderful land that we live in.
But you can’t travel all the time. You can’t play golf all the time and you can’t go out to the movies or see a play every night of the week. That’s where a lot of people get into trouble. They fail to have multiple interests that are going to keep them motivated to learn something new. That’s how you stay young. That’s how you wake up looking forward to each day. I’m not saying the activities I just mentioned like golf, travel and theater are not enough – they very well may be. It depends on the person and that’s what most people fail to understand. What type of person are you? What interests do you have? Do you need to socialize or are you safe and secure in your own company? For some people, a night alone is torture. For others, it’s something they look forward to. We’re all different and that’s what makes life interesting. I love retirement because I took the time to figure out what makes me happy and what I would need to keep my creative juices flowing. Never forget that we all have creative juices! We need to create – whether it’s a book, painting, woodworking project, a great meal or a round of par golf, we need to have something to strive for in a way that we find ourselves lost in the moment. It can be for an hour, a day or a lifetime. As the great statesman Winston Churchill said: “The cultivation of a hobby and new forms of interest is a policy of first importance to a public man.” I would never correct the great Prime Minister, but I think that statement applies to every man or woman no matter what age they are.
By the time a person reaches retirement age you would think they know themselves pretty well, but I suspect that is not as true as you might think. Too many people spend their time interested in what other people are doing rather than focusing on developing their skills or interests. It doesn’t make you self-centered to spend time contemplating “what makes you tick” or exploring the possibilities that exist in your own life. Developing your talents and skills is a way to live life to the fullest and, when you do that, you will have a positive impact in the world and the people that you meet. I remember being at a craft fair once and complimenting an artist on her work. She smiled and said that creating something other people liked was her reason for being. That got me to wonder if I knew my own reason for being. If you’ve gotten to retirement age and still don’t know your reason for being, there’s still time to find out.
That’s the biggest reason that I love retirement. There’s still time to become the best version of yourself that you can be and have a whole lot of fun doing it. You have years of experience and learning to give others and it’s a story that no one else can tell.
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