Everybody does retirement in their own way. With mine bearing down on me in less than a month, I’ve been giving this a lot of thought.
In the “old days”, that is for the Depression-era generation and before, most people were so “old” in body and mind by the time they hit retirement age, their primary goal was leisure. Lots of golf, maybe, for men and some women. Rocking on the front porch with knitting or crochet needles or a continuous supply of library books (because they were too frugal to buy them when they could borrow them). Maybe doing some traveling, if they were fortunate enough to retire with comfortable finances.
Okay, so maybe a bit cliché. But you get the idea. Dozens, maybe hundreds of articles have been written over the years.
But it has been mostly the baby boomers who have changed that picture. Granted, some still look toward retirement as an opportunity for a more leisurely lifestyle, untethered to anyone else’s scheduling dictates. Some, as grandparents by retirement age, offer to provide greater support to their children and grandchildren in the form of babysitting and transporting while the young parents are working.
What stands out among baby boomers is the drive to take their lives in new directions. For some that just means moving to a new location, most often south. For many others, it is an opportunity to launch or expand a second career and take the reins of how their daily life proceeds.
On August 28th I will be retiring from my full time job. I likely will do something very part time because, frankly, my retirement income will not be all that generous and because I happen to enjoy a part of what I currently do on the job. But my new full time job will be first and foremost about writing and the research required to do it well. I envision full days with writing, exercise (which I have sorely neglected in the last year), and the 10-15 hours/week with a fragment of my pre-retirement work. Rather than retiring, I guess you might say I’m changing careers.
And yes, I will factor in time to enjoy some leisure. I have a sweater I started knitting a few years ago that nags at me. So maybe some of my time will be spent on the porch, knitting. I see my husband and me getting out on our boat more regularly, and taking our canoe to those places we’ve talked about for so many years. I see enjoying walks and hikes with Nala, my now-aging Border Terrier, while we still can do that together. We have some trips planned – to locations within the country. And if we ever get around to getting the enhanced licenses, to Canada. Lots to see on our own continent.
And always, woven solidly into every day, is the luxury and pleasure of time for writing that isn’t limited to an hour here or there. That’s my idea of leisure. Maybe I’ll “make it” with a series of books that do decently. In the publishing world it is a bit of a crap shoot. But what I know for sure is it is much more of a challenge to make it if you can’t devote the time to provide depth and continuity to your writing. It is that opportunity that calls loudest to me.
As I wind down in my current full time career, people ask me if I will miss working, if I will be bored. That possibility never crossed my mind – in fact, the one thing I fear most about retirement is not having enough time to do everything I want to do. But rest assured, I tell myself, I will make room every day for the luxury of writing time that has eluded me all of my adult life.
Leaving space for “nothing” to happen is so important in the first year of retirement. Most people in our generation have spent 35 + years being fully scheduled in a “profession”. When that goes away there is suddently room for those deeply buried yearnings, passions and desires to participate in life in a whole new way. What is needed is to quiet ourselves so we can listen carefully to what emerges….it takes time and patience to “hear” those inner voices and more time to figure out how to take the action and move toward what we discover. Sometimes people jump into volunteer organizations, part-time work in what they were doing, and feel a bit paniced by not having a full schedule. They miss the chance to check in with themselves. It’s well worth a bit of discomfort, sitting with the unscheduled life, to find our what emerges!