Thursday, August 29, 2013

You Don't Have to Wait for Retirement- Or Getting a LIfe Now

 At first blush the title of this blog post might sound like an anti-retirement article.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I am certainly enjoying retirement to the fullest.  There are though, two things I have noticed lately.  First, there are a large number of retirees who begin retirement with no directions, hobbies or interests outside work.  Second, there are some folks, both pre and post retirement, who seem to think that retirement (early or otherwise) is the only way to "get a life"

I've mentioned before that my late husband worked most of his life for the Federal Government-first as an area recreation supervisor and later as a business analyst (it's true, you can be great at managing "corporate" amounts of money and terrible when it comes to your own finances).  While he did not "love" his job,he enjoyed it. He never brought work home, but weekdays were long hours-getting to work before everyone else to handle email and so on. He did this both to be efficient and that so he could have his "personal time as well". 

In spite of being in the working world with a boss, he had a full life, both during working hours and off time. My husband spent time officiating amateur sports games, from children to adults. It was something he began when the need arose for my son to play-but he continued because he enjoyed it. Eventually once our son stopped with most organized sports he continued with teens and adults. My husband also played golf-not as a networking tool but with our son and friends.  They followed the "walking rule" and spent many a summer day from dawn to mid day enjoyably.  He was also an avid skier, and spent almost one weekend a month in Europe skiing various alpine resorts (something he did without other family members).  He had many other interests including gourmet cooking (he cooked all of our family celebrations and most Sunday meals).

I was an at home mother and and wife almost all of my marriage-even when my kids entered school full time. Even when my children were young I volunteered.  I read, sewed, crafted and worked on the house. Although not as athletic as my son or husband,  had many hobbies that kept me busy.

The point of all this "sharing" as my son would call it is twofold.  First, because my husband and I had full non working lives and many hobbies, we had almost no chance of boredom in retirement.  One friend often jokes that she doesn't know how she had time to work. I would not go that far. I would say that I have never had a boring day in retirement, and I cannot imagine that my husband would have had one either.  It was because we had a life outside of work (and occasionally outside of family) that has made my retirement so successful and would have made my husband's equally so.

The second point is, in a sense, just the opposite.  Just because you cannot (or choose not to) retire early does not mean you cannot have a really full life. Early retirement, retirement at all is not what works best for everyone. If that is true of you, you can still make it work. Putting life on hold and saying "when I retire I will......." is in my opinion a mistake. The world is full of rich and rewarding activities that do not require waiting for retirement. Granted, most non retirees  cannot travel for a month or six weeks (although for many that may be too long). One can still take advantage of weekends, three day holidays and vacations. Having lived in Washington DC, Dallas and Denver, I cannot begin to express how many  one or two night getaways are to be had-never mind my time in Europe. The best weekend I every had in London (a long story for another time) was one President's day weekend when I took off the Friday as well and we flew from Frankfurt to London. Yes, one could spend a month, but that doesn't make almost four days invalid. The thing is that we just did it. You want to learn how to play golf?  Get deeper into Genealogy?  Take a gourmet cooking class?  Study Italian?  Don't wait, do it now.

Not only will your life be richer now, but when you do decide retire, you'll be well prepared and on your way. I live with a roommate who continues to work (both by choice and for finances). It would never, even occur to me that my retirement life might be fuller than her working life. My sister works full time. She also travels, takes gardening to a level well beyond that Master Gardner thing, is a wonderful cook, and has many other hobbies and passions. Our lives are different. One is not better than the other, and we each have chosen what works for us.

Just a thought this Thursday.

11 comments:

  1. This is an awesome post; one of those -- oh yeah -- readings that seem so obvious, yet pass lots of folks by. I'm glad you took the time to remind everyone that life is ticking on. I have friends & family members who are miserable working & expect a "magic" switch to turn on so they will have a "wonderful" retirement. I gently remind them that wherever they go, there they are & that sometimes death means there is no retirement, but they are certain that the future will be perfect, even if today is awful.

    Even though I doubt they'll read this, I appreciate that you wrote it!

    pam

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts. I sometimes think that people plan for retirement (especially "early retirement") thinking it's a magic bullet and the best thing for everyone. Not necessarily.

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  2. Hear, hear ....

    I've seen relatives and co-workers do the "when we retire, we will travel," etc, but when the time came, ill health or death derailed those plans. One reason my DH and I have made the commitment to travel now.
    I have hobbies I enjoy, piles of books to read, etc., and I doubt I would be bored in retirement. DH I'm not so sure about, even though he has plenty of projects. (He tends to need structure ... suspect I will have to push him to do a regular volunteer gig when the time comes.)
    On the other hand, there are things I cannot do because of my job, which is not a M-F, 9-5 gig. (Unless I want to take vacation days) So I'm looking forward to retirement, or semi-retirement to take advantage of those things, too.

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    1. It is my experience that some folks need more structure than others. Some retirees I know make a daily schedule, others like me fly by the pants.

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  3. Excellent post and a point I have been focusing on with friends who are "examining" retirement timing. Thanks.

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    1. I think retirement timing is different for everyone. I was an early retiree by force and while I love it I would have been satisfied as well with the traditonal had that worked out.

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  4. This daily inspiration hung beside my desk at work, now in the kitchen cupboard since retirement. "This is your life. Do what you love, and do it often. If you don't like something, change it. If you don't like your job, quit. If you don't have enough time, stop watching tv. If you are looking for the love of your life, stop; they will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love. All emotions are beautiful. When you eat, appreciate every last bite. Life is simple. Open your mind, arms, and heart to new things and people, we are united in our differences. Ask the next person you see what their passion is, and share your inspiring dream with them. Travel often; getting lost will help you find yourself. Some opportunities will only come once, seize them. Life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them so go out and start creating. Life is short. Live you dream and share you passion." The Holstee Manifesto, 2009
    My friend and I have a Nashville trip booked in November. I was always going to go with a work colleague and she with her husband. They have both since passed away. We waited too long. We're not waiting any longer.

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  5. I think you will enjoy Nashville. I was only able to spend two days there -the middle stop of a destination to destination trip-but we enjoyed it fully.

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  6. You've gotten right to the heart of the matter -- Putting life on hold and saying "when I retire I will ... " is a huge mistake, one that cost us half our lives.

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  7. Love this perspective - just what I am cultivating pre-retirement! Might never get to retirement but I am certainly going to live my life with joy!

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  8. Im sure you will get to retirement at some point, but joy is the goal after all!

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