Two guys jumping

2014-02-01 Charles Darwin

I’ve now been retired for one month.  I’m still getting accustomed to my new routine.  To some extent, I’ve allowed myself to be unstructured and undisciplined for the sake of decompressing and enjoying my new-found freedom.

On the one hand, I know that I’m not getting as much done as I should, considering the list of things I have committed myself to and have been looking forward to doing once I retired.

On the other hand, I need to remember that one of the greatest joys of retirement is you have more freedom with your time and it’s okay to be unproductive some of the time, and just enjoy life.  The “shoulds” shouldn’t matter as much.

On numerous occasions when I have seen my friends over the past month, they have asked, “How’s retirement?”  My standard answer is, “Great!”  And I mean it!  I’m not riding a wave of post-work euphoria.  My days are remarkably down-to-earth, but I’m enjoying them.

At various points in my conversations with others about retiring, I’ve talked to some people who are unsure what retirement will be like, and they’re uncertain about whether or not they will really enjoy not working.  It’s safe to say that many people aren’t entirely sure what to expect.

So the other day, I sat down and wrote a list of all the things that I am enjoying about being retired.  And to be fair, there are a few things that are not so great, and I’ll share those too.

...continue reading "25 Great Things About Being Retired"

Friends at Lighthouse

2014-01-28 George Bernard Shaw

When you think about the changes and adjustments that are going to occur when you retire, the most obvious one is that you’re now going to have much more time on your hands.  You won’t be going in to work.  You can now choose what to do with every waking hour of every day.

But there’s another change that comes in tandem with no longer going in to work.  It’s just as profound, and many couples don’t anticipate it and are caught by surprise when it happens.

Suddenly, you have a lot more time to spend together.

What was your initial reaction to reading the previous sentence?  Even for couples who genuinely enjoy each other’s company, this change may illuminate differences in how much time each partner wishes to spend together and how much time and space they wish to have for themselves.

...continue reading "Togetherness – Can There Be Too Much of a Good Thing?"

Piggy bank

2014-01-20 Winston Churchill

On my last day of work (December 31, 2013), I said goodbye to a few of my colleagues who sat in the cubicles around me.  In addition to the well-wishes and expressions of how nice it was to work together (and it was – they are wonderful people), several people made comments about how they envied me for being able to retire, especially at the relatively young age of 56.

One young lady, who was only about 2½ years out of college, said she hoped she would be able to retire young.  I asked her if she had started saving for her retirement.  She hesitated and said, “Well…  I’m trying to save money for a down payment on a house.”

That’s a laudable goal, and I’m glad she’s saving money for something.  This wasn’t the time or the place for continuing a discussion on that topic, nor did she ask for my advice, so I let it go.  But I’ve thought about this brief exchange several times since then.

...continue reading "If Not Now… When?"

IMG_1093

2014-01-13 Betty Sullivan

Prior to December, I can’t recall that I have ever attended a retirement party held in the workplace. In fact, the only retirement party I can recall was a party for the father of one of my college buddies that took place soon after I graduated, and that one took place in their home.

My employer provides funding for retirement parties. This is probably not the case at many other companies, which may explain why many retirement parties happen privately, on a smaller scale, or not at all.

But in December, not only did I have my own party, but I was asked to serve as Master of Ceremonies for two other retirement parties – both for managers I had worked for. Of course, being the MC pretty much required me to be part of the planning process. So, in a few short weeks, I got a crash course on planning retirement parties.

In this post, I’ll share some of the things I learned and some suggestions for throwing a fun and memorable retirement party, as well as other ways to commemorate the end of a working career.

...continue reading "The Retirement Party"

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Champagne on the beach

2014-01-08 Ralph Waldo Emerson

One week ago yesterday (December 31, 2013), I carried my last box of personal effects out of the building of the company I have worked for the past 17 ½ years.  I’ve been officially retired for one week now.  While I’m still in the early stages of creating my “new normal,” I’m also taking the opportunity to reflect back on the past days, weeks, and months.

...continue reading "And so it begins…"

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If you’re like me, you’ve probably spent most of your life accumulating things.  A lot of it is stuff that we wanted or needed (usually wanted) at a particular moment in time, and then we would find some place to put it in case we need or want (usually want) it again in the future.  Of course, occasionally we do use something again, but mostly all this stuff just collects on our shelves and in our closets, garages and attics where it remains for years.

Sooner or later, we end up in bigger houses or we rent storage units just to hold all this stuff that we accumulate.  After all, we might need it again someday!

I admit it – I’m a pack rat.

I come by it honestly.  My parents were children of the depression and lived through World War II.  They were frugal throughout their lives.  They kept everything – and I mean everything.

After my mother passed away, my sister and I had one week to go through their entire house and disposition almost sixty years’ worth of accumulated possessions.  My father had been a land surveyor, and he had a rolled-up blueprint of every survey he had ever done in the basement.  My mother had dozens of glass jelly jars which she did actually use for making her own jellies and jams years ago, but had never discarded after she stopped.  A twelve foot long clothes closet upstairs in the converted attic was stuffed full of clothing which hadn’t been worn in years.  And they had faithfully stored every issue of National Geographic for decades.

I vowed that I would never leave that much stuff behind for someone else to have to disposition after I’m gone.  But alas, I haven’t followed through on my good intention.

So I have been conditioned since birth to save everything – because, after all, I might need it someday.  And besides, I paid good money for it!

The occasion of an upcoming move provides a great opportunity to go through all of your stuff and thin out your holdings – in theory.  When my husband and I moved into our current house in 2006 (50% larger than our previous home), we were so busy with other aspects of the move and other things in life that when the time came, we just packed it all up and moved it.  That was right about the time I looked around and asked, “Where did all this crap come from???”

...continue reading "Downsizing -or- “Where Did All This Crap Come From???”"

Happy crowd-orange sunset

Yesterday, I discovered this inspirational essay about Success, which has been published widely on the internet and in books, but is inaccurately attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson:

2013-10-13 Success-Emerson

Upon investigation, it appears that this is an adaptation from this essay by Bessie Anderson Stanley from 1904.  She submitted this essay in a contest for inspirational writings and won first prize ($250, which at that time was a lot of money):

2013-10-13 Success-Stanley

Personally, I like the erroneous version a little better, hence my decision to include both.  But aside from all that, it hit home for me because I think it really helps to put perspective on making the transition from my working career into retirement (or as I prefer, “renaissance”).

As I wrote in my earlier posts Happiness Today AND Happiness Tomorrow and Encore! Encore!, some retirees are miserable after they retire because they lack of purpose and meaning in their lives.  These people (and it’s especially true for men) derived all of their sense of self-worth from their work accomplishments.  After they left work, they lost their validation and reason to exist.

Notice that nothing in either of these versions has to be fulfilled by what you do on your job.  Of course, you may make significant contributions on your job – either to the world or to the life of just one person – but that’s not the single path to success.

I’m sharing these essays today with the hope that they will give you a fresh perspective on all that you do with your life today and will do with your life in your retirement or renaissance.

...continue reading "Success"

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Leap of Faith - Aug 05 2013

2013-08-05 Andy Warhol

Most days, we can comfortably stay on course throughout the day without having to make choices that are any more difficult or consequential than where to eat lunch or which shirt to wear.  (For me, the latter choice is especially easy.  If I’m having any trouble at all deciding, I just go with purple!)

But every now and then we arrive at an inflection point, where the choice we make will have a profound impact on the course of our life.  Such monumental decisions include whether to move to a faraway place, whether to take a new job, whether to commit to spending the rest of your life with someone, or whether to end a relationship.

I have been confronting such a choice for several months now.

...continue reading "Today I Took a Giant Leap of Faith"

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Hiker relaxing in New Zealand

2013-08-02 Laurence Peters

I like the word “retirement.”  I always have, because the more I plan for and anticipate my retirement, the more optimistic about it I get.

Don’t get me wrong, it won’t be a panacea, any more than everyday life during our working years is.  There will be good days, bad days, and average days.  Good things will happen, bad things will happen, and sometimes it will seem like nothing is happening.

More than anything else, I am going to cherish my freedom, which will be there no matter what kind of day I might be having.

But the word “retirement” carries baggage for many people.  For many people, “retirement” screams “has-been.” 

Many people visualize retirement as those sad last few years of life, when your health deteriorates, you have little money, nothing to do, no reason to live, and you ultimately move into an assisted living or nursing home and die.  Most of the people you see are doctors and caregivers, and your primary mode of transportation is a motorized wheelchair.

People of this mindset would rather not think about their retirement at all.

Others have a hard time believing they will ever retire at all, probably because they believe they’ll never be able to save enough money.  To them, retirement is a cruel joke;  it seems like that luxury item in the store window that they will never have.

One of the main reasons I write this blog is to encourage people in either of the latter categories to visualize their retirement in a more optimistic, possibility-filled light.

...continue reading "Is It Time to Retire the Word “Retirement?”"

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From http://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/245255. No known copyright restrictions.

2013-07-14 Simone de Beauvoir

I’m convinced that for many people, their retirement years end up being a lot like the preconceived notions of retirement that they held during their working years.

If you look forward to your retirement years as being vibrant, fulfilling, and happy – they will be. 

If you think retirement will be dull, boring, and beset with declining health – it probably will be.

...continue reading "Welcome to Retire Fabulously! How This Blog Will Help You Live Happily Ever After"