August 4, 2010

Retirement After Ten Years - How Has My Life Changed?

Syd, at Retirement: A Full Time Job, suggested a post that she thought would be useful to readers. After almost a decade without a full time job, how is my life different compared to my first year or two of retirement? What has happened that I didn't expect or plan for?  Great questions. Here are my answers.
  • Financially Much More Relaxed. There were several ups and downs in the economy and my investments, even before the Great Recession of the past two years. In the first few years I was constantly worried that I had miscalculated or forgotten some major expense. At least once a week I'd use a retirement calculator to re-check my financial plans. Each time, the numbers confirmed we should be OK. I did not expect health insurance costs to go up so rapidly, year after year. I actually forgot about having to buy new cars. But, overall, the financial plans my wife and I made have held up. Today, I am much less likely to stress over every up and down. We have made almost a decade. We'll be OK.

  • Much More Aware of The Passage of Time. When you first retire, the time horizon does seem rather far away. That is an illusion caused by the sudden end to daily job responsibilities. Days of the week suddenly become much less meaningful. Monday is every bit as good at Saturday. There is no rush. About seven years into this journey, however, there was a shift. I became more aware of the passage of time. I understood that each day seems long, but goes by quickly and will never be repeated. Anything not done today will never get done today. By pushing it into tomorrow that will push something else into the next day. Time isn't as elastic as it seemed at first.

  • Much More Open to New Ideas. The first few years are spent finding your rhythm and becoming comfortable with the decisions you have made. There are a lot of adjustments as you move through the stages of retirement. I did not have the inclination to take on additional challenges in my life. But, a few years ago I felt the need to begin to grow and to take on new projects. I was comfortable in thinking about how my life was being lived in new ways. I have shed some old convictions and approaches. In this 10th year I feel like a kid in a candy store. My brain is too full of new things I want to try. I am moving full speed ahead to create a satisfying retirement lifestyle.

  • Much Less Interested in What is Going On in My Old Industry. I spent 35 years in my field. I knew a lot of people. I had a lot of former clients that I wished the best for. I was interested in staying in the loop. About five years ago, I began to lose interest. I no longer felt I had to check on the latest developments or stay in touch with people I knew who were still working. In this 10th year I have no interest, whatsoever. That was a former life. It was a good one and allowed me to live this one. But, I've moved on. What is going on in the broadcasting industry is no longer relevant to me.

  • Much Better at Saying "No."  When someone first retires there is often a rush of requests for that person's time. Volunteering for this or that, heading a committee, helping with the Boy Scout meeting..... the lack of a full time job must mean you are constantly available to help others. But, as the years pass by, the ability to filter out the things you don't want to do becomes greater. The ability to say "No" to everything comes more easily. You find the strength to say "Yes" to the things that are meaningful to you and most helpful to others.

What about your retirement journey? Regardless of how long you have been without a full time job, I bet you have noticed differences in that period of time. I'd be fascinated in learning what you have observed. Please share one or two in the comments section.

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  1. Thanks for that post, I feel like I have my own personalized retirement-advice blog! What a great glimpse into the future. Here at year 3, I have definitely shifted already into the not-so-worried-about-money phase. Even with the great recession hitting right at the beginning of my retirement. I guess I kind of figure, if I can make it through THIS, the rest should be a cakewalk! Thanks for the peek into the crystal ball.

  2. I'm happy you made it to the no-so worried phase of money management in quick order. You are absolutely correct: if you are above water and feeling fine after the last 2 years, you have it figured out. Nicely done, Syd.

  3. It sounds like you have made the most of your past 10 years! I find it amazing that we spend our working years rushing madly from one crisis to another with little time for what really matters. In that scenario, you would think we would value time that much more due to its scarcity. Thankfully you are able to appreciate and enjoy the moments now that you are retired. We can all learn from that.

  4. Thanks, Dave. It has been an enjoyable journey. There are bumps and will be more. But, the issue of time as an irreplaceable resource is one that can't be stressed enough.