Search “RETIREMENT” in Google and you will get financial advice only. Important, yes, but there is so much more to be addressed in this stage of life, projected at today’s longevity expectancy to be about one-third of it. Retirement is often anticipated, but just as often disappointing. Tales of boredom, anxiety, loneliness, abandonment, stagnation, and ill health abound in the retirement community. And, no wonder.
According to the Miriam Webster dictionary, to retire is to “ stop a job or career because you have reached the age when you are not allowed to work anymore or do not need or want to work anymore; withdraw from one's position or occupation; conclude one's working or professional career.” Notice there is not one positive verb here. By definition, to “retire” is a not-so-subtle reminder of our mortality.
While mortality is not an option, how we spend the last one-third of our lifetime is. Some may continue working, either full time or part-time, from desire or necessity. But for those of us who take the retirement path, we must watch the gap; this gap can be disastrous, if we are not paying attention. The gift of time is finally ours, and if we aren't alert to this time gap, we risk squandering it and creating a life that feels lacking in something.
Teaching was my life. Even when I wasn’t at school, I was thinking about my classroom and what was coming next. So, I welcomed the stress relief, as I let that part of my work life go. It was euphoric and energizing to feel so free. I woke early and went for a daily walk – a walk that evolved into a slow jog of three miles (I had never been a runner!). My health improved. My golf improved. My outlook improved.
My point is this. Be open to things you have never done before in this gap between work and your retirement life. Do not fall into perpetual relaxation just because you have stopped working, are not allowed or do not need or want to work, have withdrawn from your occupation, or concluded your professional career. Do not get comfortable with yourself as you are. Continue to improve. Continue to embrace new ideas. Look out the window, not in the mirror!
Advice whether or not you ask: This is a life-changing read for anyone, but especially those of us with the gift of time in retirement.