Last week I hit the three month mark of my retirement. It is difficult to believe I have not worked for three months. This is the longest time of my adult life that I have not worked. Over the last few months I have shared most of my struggles as I made the transition from full time working to full time retirement.
I think I am over the hump. My retirement is feeling more natural and I now have some loose structure and routine in my day. My days, however, still have a lot of flexibility in them so I can occasionally have lunch with my friends or take care of needed chores. On a personal level Monday through Friday have become my new weekend. Saturdays and Sundays are now the days I feel out of kilter as I adjust to having my wife and granddaughter around all day.
I would like to share some retirement advice for anyone newly retired or who plans to retire soon.
It is important to prepare financially for retirement. I was lucky to work many years for a major corporation and I took full advantage of opportunities to save money and to make that money grow. My company also offered me an early retirement package after 32 years of service. In this regard I was exceptionally fortunate.
Although money is very important it is not the only thing that you should focus on when you get ready to retire. I realized too late that I was not really prepared emotionally or psychologically for an abrupt end to my working life. In the immediate days and weeks of my retirement I was lonely and depressed. It did not help that I retired in the dead of winter. Meditation and exercise have helped me deal with my negative moods, anxiety, and occasional depression.
If your life revolved around your job and office relationships, you might be in for a shock. My motivation for working was making a living, getting a paycheck, and supporting my family. The actual work wasn’t very fulfilling. It was after I left the workplace that I understood the importance of the friendships and social interactions I had with co-workers. I have had a few surprises in regard to workplace friendships. You may be surprised when you realize who forgets you and who makes the effort to stay in touch with you.
You should not build your life around the workplace. I failed to develop a life outside of the workplace. As an introvert I was usually exhausted at the end of days spent dealing with other people. When I worked I enjoyed any opportunities for solitude and I couldn’t wait to get home at the end of a workday. Upon retirement I had too much solitude and few friendships with people that hadn’t been part of my work life.
My spouse is still working. If you and your significant other retire together, if you actually enjoy one another’s company, and if you have similar interests, retirement may be a breeze for you. I retired alone. Time will tell what life will be like when my wife eventually retires. We are very different kinds of people.
Although I have struggled with retirement, I am glad I did it. It was time for me to get out of the workplace for all kinds of reasons. My future is unknown to me. I am not sure if or when something will reveal itself to me that gives new meaning to my life. One possibility that crosses my mind is finding a way to help other people deal with aging, loneliness, and feeling disconnected from life. Social isolation is a real problem for older people as they leave the routine of daily work and no longer have the support and friendships of the workplace..
I hope what I have written is helpful for you as you begin or contemplate your own retirement.
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