Since I am now at an age when most people are thinking about retirement, I am bombarded on social media with advice for retirement. I have been retired over 10 years now – I was very lucky to retire at age 51, with a pension and a nest egg. So this is about my observations about retirement.
One of the big topics seems to be how to “reinvent” yourself into a new career. I can honestly say that when I retired I had no desire to return to work. I could have “reinvented” myself into an industry job, but then, if I wanted to work, I wouldn’t have retired. I wasn’t pushed out the door. I guess my “reinvention” had to do with slowing down from a hard charging professional women into a more laid back version of myself. No one should be made guilty about stepping away from work, yet these articles that I read seem to think that a person just falls into a pool of nothingness if not changing careers or starting a new business. Particularly starting a new business – it takes more skills than just a dream and the cash, yet people would have you believe that with a dream, you can do anything. But businesses require a plan, an understanding of demographics, a need in the marketplace, personnel and customer service skills, and perhaps some purchasing experience. It’s not just about time and money. And maybe, like me, you were happy to see the workplace in your rear-view mirror.
And then there are hobbies. Articles would have you believe that now is the time to gain fame and fortune and become the master of your hobby. When I retired, I took up painting and I enjoy it. Was I a hidden talent, just waiting to create a masterpiece? No. No one will show my work in a gallery. I have a few of my paintings hanging in my house, but the vast majority are in storage. I do it because I enjoy it. I like to cook, but I don’t want to do it competitively. And although I like to read, I haven’t given a thought to opening a little bookstore. It’s okay if something is just a hobby that you enjoy doing.
Do we need to have a bucket list of things we want to do, places we want to go and if skydiving is on the list, so much the better. I mean the elder President Bush was skydiving at 80, right? A lot of my friends enjoy traveling, and I applaud them for doing it, since they enjoy it. I do not like to travel and so I don’t. I traveled a great deal in my career. I’ve been to Paris and London, and Israel and a host of other places. But now that travel is made so miserable by the terrorist threat and the idea by airlines that they must pack the traveling public into planes like sardines, I have no desire to do that. My husband and I make a few road trips a year, and frankly, I am okay with that and I refuse to feel guilty that I am not trekking in Nepal or on a Safari in Africa or diving off of a cliff, just so I can say I did it. It’s okay if you don’t like to travel. It’s okay not to have a bucket list. No one will take away your retirement card. And I have never gotten a damn bit of pleasure, creating lists and checking things off.
So here is what I like about retirement, and articles to the contrary be damned:
- I very much like getting up and going to bed when my body and the dogs feel like it. I didn’t have that luxury in the years that I worked. And I love being able to take my coffee outside and drink it at leisure, instead of making a pit stop at Starbucks on my way to work.
- I like to walk, but I am not training for a marathon or spending an hour a day at the gym.
- I like having the luxury to run my errands during the week, unlike when I spent my weekends doing the same. My husband and I run errands together, with and without doggy accompaniment, and we talk and laugh (or bicker about things that do not amount to anything).
- I love going to art and talking with my friends there. I love that I have time to have lunch or coffee with a friend, and talk about little stuff, instead of stressing out abut getting back
- I love having the time to watch nature. It’s not at all boring and it is different every day.
- I love that I get up every morning and decide whether or not to get dressed; what I will wear and what someone else will think about my choices. I no longer have to worry that I am projecting the right image. (and I love being able to express an opinion without worrying that it will follow me and perhaps affect my career).
- I like spending time doing nothing if I feel like it. Or spending a couple of hours on the internet reading. And that my email box is not longer filled up with messages that require an answer immediately, if not sooner.
- And I love being able to laugh at articles that suggest I am doing retirement all wrong.
No one should feel panicked, wondering what you will do with your time. You will wonder how you had time to work.
Until next time, Elsie