A reader who offers suggestions for blog posts (which I love and encourage from anyone), recently dropped me a note to ask about the path to a satisfying retirement. She and her husband have been moving toward that goal for a few years now but something always derails their plans. One partner gets cold feet and decides that working longer would be good for their long term financial health. Or, the decision to retire brings the realization that no firm plan to fill all that free time exists so retirement is put off.
Another "false start" involves one partner going back to school in order to try a new career. But, soon comes the realization that studying and sitting in class for hours at a time doesn't mesh well with the desire to volunteer, go to church more often, travel, or spend time cooking. Retirement and starting a new, full time career can't work together.
So, she wonders how many almost-retirees make a few false starts on their plans as they get ready to leave their old lives. The short answer is, "Many." Like any stage of life we rarely proceed smoothly from step A to step B. Unexpected problems arise or life goals are adjusted. Just being alive means you are in a state of constant change.
With something as life-altering as retirement, having second or third thoughts is only natural. Trying to figure out how to use all that free time can be daunting. Trying to balance the desire to learn something new with the eagerness to spend time doing what you already know you love is not easy.
The last twelve years of retirement have taught me to allow myself to change plans, direction, even lifestyle. In fact, come to think of it, I'm not sure there really is such a thing as a false start. Retirement starts when you are mentally, emotionally, and financially able to take that final step. Everything before that is just a test or a feeling out of various aspects of a life change.
So, for the person who wants to retire but can't quite cut his or her ties to work, then it is more likely you aren't quite ready. For the person who stops work and then realizes there are still motivations to have a job, whether full or part time, then there is no "failure" in satisfying that need.
For the person who is simply afraid of the unknown and needs encouragement to jump......Jump. Jump in with both feet, knowing that retirement is simply a part of your life's journey that you can adjust, change, or even revoke, if need be. Retirement is not an end, but really a new beginning.
False starts? Not really...just a different path.
Note: If you think my last few posts have seemed a little shorter than normal, you are right. Very observant of you! One of the decisions I made in returning from my Oregon trip was to keep these posts a few hundred words less than my typical post has been for the last 39 months. There are two primary reasons:
1) A post of 800-1,000 words is a bit too long for some readers to tackle in the limited amount of time they have to check up on all the blogs and web sites that interest them. Besides, I should be able to convey my thoughts in 500-700 words. My creative writing teacher in high school would probably say even that is too much. For a writer, he pounded into my head that effective communication is better served by
2) I have several new projects in mind for the coming
So, dear reader, I hope you don't feel cheated. There will be times when the message needs a longer post and then I give myself permission to inundate you with words. But, for the most part I want to save you and me time, be a bit more focused in my thoughts and writing, and bring my new ideas to full fruition.
Oh, and the irony that I just used 300 words to tell you I'd be writing less isn't lost on me!