Today I spent two hours crunching numbers and making decisions with my financial consultant.
I am not a wealthy person by any stretch of the imagination but I am a long way from poor. When I was working I saved as much money as I could, I paid off my home, and I have no debt other than my monthly expenses. I feel lucky that I was able to retire when the opportunity presented itself. However, there is more to life and retirement than money although financial planning and saving is essential. If you are nearing retirement, or perhaps retired recently, there are other things you need to think about besides money. In retrospect it seems like all I ever heard about retirement while I was working was to prepare yourself financially. As I stated, I did that to the best of my ability. What I did not prepare for adequately was the loss of friends, community, and purpose. I suddenly found myself without these things and I felt kind of lost. Two months into retirement I am still wandering in the desert looking for the promised land of retirement happiness and a sense of direction.
Not being what I would call a social butterfly, most of my social interactions and friendships were in the workplace. Many of these interactions were superficial and most people were acquaintances instead of true friends. However, even those I felt closer to now seem far away and distant since the shared experience of getting through the workday no longer exists. I get it. I have not had a single thought about many of my former co-workers. Why would I think everyone left in the workplace would think about me every day?
At a recent lunch with two friends one asked me, “Don’t you need to feel part of a community”? Once again, the workplace supplied my need to feel part of a community. I am not part of a faith community or any civic organization. Up until now the daily workplace experience met those needs so I was happy to come home each day to my solitude to recharge and rest. I was not out every night doing volunteer work at the church or any other place.
In the workplace I was a leader and my sense of purpose was to minister to the needs of co-workers and people who were part of my team. I always saw leadership as me not being someone’s boss but rather me as someone who saw my work as a ministry to people. I am no longer a leader in the workplace and I no longer have a team of people reporting to me with a wide variety of needs. In other words, there’s lot of office ministry no longer being done, at least not by me.
Save your money for your old age and retirement but also consider how these other needs will be met. If you don’t you will have days like I have been having where you are lonely, a little depressed, and wondering what you should now be doing with your life to give it a sense of purpose and meaning.
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