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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lost My Fear of Retirement

This week Vonnie and I have been segregating and packing things for the apartment in Indianapolis.  I now know where a lot of what I've made has gone over the years: I believe that we must have about three of everything.  It has felt a lot like what a divorce must be like in trying to decide which pizza cutter stays here and which one goes to Indiana.  Who get the toaster and the blender?  Those mugs aren't going anywhere because they were mine before we married, etc...

At this point I can't help but reflect on what I've learned from three months between jobs.  Among the most enlightening is that I have lost my fear of retirement.

For years I haven't placed much stock in retirement. I can't ever, and I mean ever, see myself rocking on the back porch and doing nothing.  Neither of us have ever seen ourselves sitting in our respective recliners staring at each other for the last several years of our lives.  Because of that I've never put much stock into retirement planning: after all, why plan for something you never intend to do.

What I found during this past three months has been that I am busier than I ever have been.  Family have marveled at how I ever had time to work because my schedule is full.  Here's what I did:

  • I took my work with Soles4Souls as a Board member seriously and helped them find a CEO, a pair of interim CFOs, and reformulate the Board.
  • I worked out.
  • I went to mass.
  • I actually kept lunch appointments with friends.
  • We took a cruise (long overdue)
  • I spent whole days with each of my parents.
  • I went stripped bass fishing with my dad and his wife.
  • I listened and enjoyed conversations instead of getting past them so I could get on with the next thing.
  • I worked on potential small business ventures.
  • I talked business with my dad.
  • I played guitar.
  • I actually read a whole book.
  • I went to the farm in KY and just sat there under the trees and listened to the sound of nature.
What I discovered is that once career is over a mixture of part-time self-employment, volunteer work, church, recreation, social time, family time and outdoor time fills up your days to overflowing.  Retirement is no longer something to fear; I am actually now looking forward to it.

Armed with this new information I head into my job starting Monday in Senior Living.  I am sure I'll get more perspective on this topic once I interact with currently retired people on a daily basis.  I also now feel the need to fund my retirement which is a whole other topic.  I am also starting to talk to Vonnie about where we might want to retire someday, although not any time soon.

As Christians understanding the end of our own lives helps us live better now.  Similarly coming to terms with the eventual end of our careers, and what we'll do after that, helps us work better now. I encourage you, if you are over 40, to start thinking about what you want to do and where you want to do it once your career is over. It can certainly seem like looking through a glass darkly, but it will also help you be intentional and create your future rather than coming to the end of your career with nothing planned and limited options.

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