Recently, a regular reader sent me an e-mail that I thought was the perfect follow up to the "I Want To Retire" post. Peter and his wife, Diana, have been retired for 9 months. They have asked the questions and found the answers that someone else on a Satisfying Journey through retirement is likely to experience.
The couple has given me permission to share their thoughts. I hope you can relate to what they have discovered.
I have been reading your blog for over two years now and have thoroughly enjoyed your musings and advice. I started to read the blog whilst my wife and I were trying to decide when, not if, to retire.
Diana and I have been retired for 9 months now and I honestly can say that we have not looked back. I worked in the construction industry for nearly 40 years (that sounds like an eternity when you say it out loud) and Diana had her own hairstyling business.
One thing that we both agreed about was that at the end work became work. I loved my job because it allowed my to be part of an industry that created things. Diana loved the interaction with people but at the end it was work to get up in the morning and go to work. The fun had gone and so it was time for us to go.
I have gained a lot of insight from the blog, particularly the point you have made about the need to have additional interests in one’s life outside of work. In our situation that was not much of a problem as Diana and I love to ballroom dance, attend live theatre, travel and generally spent time together.
Old hobbies have been rekindled, in my case I have rediscovered both model railroading and photography, both interests that fell by the wayside due to the pressures of both time and work. Diana has reawakened her interest in cross stitch and the piano. Our dancing has improved as we have the time and drive to practice more often.
I don’t quite know how to express this next point. When we worked we earned a good living, we saved a lot and we spent money quite freely on travel. We had a budget that could be best expressed as don’t under any circumstances accumulate debt. Now that we are retired we have found that every dollar must be stretched a little farther but even this has not deterred us.
Instead we make a game of finding bargains and getting the best value for what we have. I knew that we would have to spend our money with greater care when we retired and I worried how Diana would react to that. To my amazement she has taken to this like a duck to water and she accomplishes budgetary feats that amaze me.
Living in Canada presents one with long cold winters and even this can be turned into an opportunity for the retired person. We discovered that while we love to walk it was a bit tedious going over the same routes day after day. So Diana to the rescue! She said let’s take up snowshoeing, found some snowshoes on line that would work within our budget and now we have a new winter activity, one that we can grow with and one that can be used as an excuse to further our travel desires.
One item that stood out in my mind from your blog was your reference to the library. I am now the proud holder of a library card, the first time I have held one since I was in school. I have always been a reader and would gladly buy any book I wanted but at this point in time I would rather read for free. Even periodicals, with the exception of those pertaining to model railroading, are available at the library. A fabulous resource.
I think I am speaking for both of us when I say that the greatest thing about being retired is that now our time is our own. We get up in the morning and say to each other “What would you like to do today?”. And the best part of that is that we don’t say that meaning how are we going to fill the time but rather we say that meaning what new adventures will we discover today. Having the freedom to do this is incredible and fills both us of with a childlike giddiness.
Before we retired I used to wonder what some retired persons meant when they said they were so busy they didn’t know how they ever worked. I am beginning to understand what they are saying.
I would sum things up by saying that I have discovered that, as with all opportunities in life, retirement is what you make of it. You will get out of it exactly what you put into it, no more and no less. In my mind your blog has subtly and repeatedly stated this and for that I am grateful. I thank you for that.
And, I thank you two for your thoughts and stories. They may very well inspire others who are a little fearful of the whole process to approach the retirement adventure with more confidence.