January 8, 2017

Your Definition of Retirement Success


The last time I checked, Amazon had over 9,000 books for sale that dealt with one or more aspects of retirement. I would guess that most of them tell you to have a successful retirement by following their guidelines and rules. 

Regular readers of this blog know it isn't that simple. Each satisfying retirement is unique. Suggestions are tremendously helpful. Past experiences should be considered. Obviously, I trust this blog passes on some thoughts that help you decide how to build your retirement.

But, the bottom line is, there is no blueprint we can follow that guarantees success. Each of us takes pieces and parts we learn about, mix those with our own goals, personality, and resources, and move forward on our journey.

One thing that is very helpful in this process, is to read what others have done. Sometimes, those experiences will cause us to consider a new path or a readjustment. Other times, we will glimpse a caution light that tells us to proceed with care. And, then there are important moments when others will point out a flashing red light that tells us of a decision that did not work out well.

If I asked 50 people for their definition of retirement success, I bet I would receive 50 different answers. Sure there would be common threads, but success is a very personal measurement. For some, financial freedom is the most important way to gauge a retirement, because that can open up opportunities that otherwise might be missed.

For others, stronger relationships are key. The time to volunteer, deepen one's spiritual life, work on projects that have lingered for years, or find a creative path that was undiscovered before retirement might indicate achievement of retirement success. Maybe just having a loose schedule with the freedom to craft each day as you see fit is your indicator. For many, it is something very personal that says, success.

So, let me turn to the folks who can share with the rest of us, what makes a retirement successful: you. Give the question some thought and then add your ideas and conclusions on what defines a successful retirement for you.

All answers are valid because of the uniqueness of the journey. Don't hesitate to list several things that you think are important in defining a retirement that is satisfying.

All of us look forward to a lively exchange of ideas.



45 comments:

  1. OK, here goes my thoughts on the topic. Retirement, mine or anyone else's is not a monolithic thing. It changes and in the process hopefully grows as it progresses.

    I spent the first 6 years with my furniture making business and it was somewhat successful at least in my terms. But then I became bored with it and I had enough of sucking sawdust so I decided to spent many hours and much donations in a local soup kitchen for 10 years. When that door closed due to health problems and the kitchen being merged into a larger entity I moved on to spending more time on learning and blogging about history and my part of the Midwest via my blog at RJsCorner. BTW, thanks for including it on your favorites list.

    To finally get to the point of this comment, a successful retirement is not just one thing. It is a journey with many side roads and their corresponding pleasures. Sometimes it is one thing and then moves to something else. Don't look for THE secret to a successful retirement but look for opportunities to go in other directions when they present themselves. One good thing about this approach is that you are never bored with your life. If you are just move on to something else, the decision is yours for maybe the first time in your life...

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    1. RJ has expressed it the way we are seeing it.
      We did part time work for a while, moved to major volunteering and now are completely centering on making out grandchildren's lives better. I know that we will probably move to something else as they grow away from the need. We are not tied to any one place or idea of retirement. That, for us, is the gift of all those years of savings for this thirty or forty year period of our lives.

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    2. Both excellent comments, RJ, and Janette. The concept of following different paths that branch off from what you think is your only path to a successful retirement is a powerful one. No retired person I know is living how he or she thought they would be when their working days ended.

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  2. Imagine my surprise to see you again! I deleted your blog from my reader when you said that you were no longer going to be blogging! What have I been missing all this time? That will teach me not to listen! HA! Anyway, in answer to your question, how to have a good retirement, don't have kids. Sorry. I know that will be an unwelcome comment. But for me, well it has not been good for my retirement since we had to take in our grandson. We love him but our retirement has been severely impacted in a negative way. We will never get these years back and we are not getting any younger or healthier. Anyway, don't mean to upset your day. I am just one story where retirement did not work out well.

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    1. I hear you on your retirement, and grieve with you.
      I followed you to your Google page. Your art is amazing!
      What a gift you are to my eyes!

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    2. I did stop for a few months in the summer of 2015, but came back after a much-needed break and reassessment. I am glad you found this place again. You only have 18 months of archives to go through!

      Your story of grandchild responsibility isn't unique and the consequences aren't either, I am afraid. One of the realities of family is the unexpected turn of events. Whether it is a grandson, an ailing parent, or a spouse who has a debilitating disease, we can find our path forward blocked.

      I would never judge someone in your situation. You are providing the love and stability the child needs when he needs it most and at great personal cost. Bless you for that, and I am truly sorry that your retirement isn't what you had expected.

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    3. Thank you Janette for your lovely words and Bob thank you for keeping your blog going. I will catch up, I promise!

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  3. My husband and I retired 14 years ago, but it didn't turn out well for either of us. First we moved out of state to unfamiliar surroundings and people without any clear hobbies or activities. Travel would have been something I would have loved, but pets tied us down and he was never as keen about travel as I. My husband had the most difficulty with retirement as he lost his "purpose. Being one of those men whose ego was tied up in his managerial work. Then he had heart issues that restricted what he was able to do and this greatly frustrated him and I sometimes bore the brunt of this. Then he got brain cancer and died three plus years ago. I have moved recently to our original state, which is a much warmer and more pleasant climate and a smaller home...all good. But....now I'm faced with starting life all over again at 70 and that combined with loneliness and not the energy I once had, has made it a struggle. I do have a few friends here and I do volunteer and try to stay busy, but I often feel I'm just filling and killing time. I don't have children and sometimes wish I'd had them, but then who knows how that might have been. The key is probably finding something no matter how big or small that gives you some contentment and for me, at least, I need social connections. My husband and I were too much to ourselves and now I feel I need to make up for lost time with that and that is also a struggle in making new friends as we age. I would advise don't retire too early and keep some independence in your lives from each other so you are prepared better when one of you is alone.

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    1. Thank you, Mary, for sharing your personal, and painful, story. Moving to an unfamiliar place after retirement is often one of the "mistakes" I hear about often. In theory, making a move for a fresh start sounds exciting, but it comes at a cost: lost friendships and connections to a place. UNless the person or couple are quite outgoing and get involved, isolation is often the end result. Coupled with your husband's health issues and passing, all of that made quite a mountain for you to climb.

      You have identified several things that I hope other readers notice: the importance of social connections and friends, the loss of identity after work for many men, the importance of "me" time in a relationship, and the difficulty in finding a passion or interests to fill one's day.

      You have identified what you need to do. That is more than half the battle. I wish you the very best as you rebuild your life. Just know there are plenty of other retirees in situations just like yours. The goal to to find a few and begin to share.

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  4. We retired early, age 60, and experimented with a few of our "dreams" that didn't exactly work as planned,so we regrouped and now we're doing something else! I think that's the key-- experiment some (within your means!) and adjust as necessary. (Don't settle!!!!) Many of us are not used to the kind of freedom retirement brings..so it can take time to aalow oneself to just "play!" I was a Type A hard worker, always 2 jobs.. but I've learned to sleep a bit later, meander a lot in nature, I take watercolor classes,have started back with piano, and I have a craft studio where I putter too. I can take the time I love to cook good meals and spend time with cookbooks, and long library dates with my husband.We have time to walk together and meditate together. If we had let our first retirement decision trip us up the rest of our lives could have been miserable. A few course corrections are to be expected at such a big life change time! I spend more time on friendships too. Success of any kind is never a destination-- it's always a journey.While we're enjoying a quieter year at home this year,I expect that next year (who knows,maybe sooner) we'll have the travel itch again, so then we'll go. Flexibility and a sense of adventure.I also believe a spiritual center of some kind helps with all stages of life.

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    1. Your story is a perfect example of the need to try something, admit when it doesn't work for you, and move to something else. For too many of us, we were stuck for decades in jobs that didn't satisfy but we had no viable alternative.

      Retirement is very different. If we don't like how or where we live, how we spend our time, or our mental or physical health, now we do have alternatives. And, yes, success in life is never a destination because it is never static.

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  5. I agree with R.J. and Madeline and you, too, Bob. Being able to make course corrections is key. Mary, you mind find that your willingness to do just that is a boon to your retirement, too. In my case, my own surprising and sudden health challenges waylaid all my retirement plans. Those plans had included climbing to see the Anasazi cliff dwellings, going to Machhu Picchu, spending lots of time in my kayak and on my mountain bike, volunteering for a refugee-help center in a nearby city, and renewing my writing career. None of that has happened with the exception of writing again. I had to figure out a way to feel productive and engaged while rather isolated. Friends fell away when I couldn't visit or, sometimes, even talk on the telephone due to my limited in my physical abilities. Did I matter if I wasn't productive and was, in fact, a burden on my husband and daughters? How could I earn my place on this earth? Or did I even need to do that? Could I be happy or at least contented while in unrelenting pain most of the time? Yes, I could be productive, if not at my previous rate. No, I couldn't always be happy or even contented, but there were certainly times when I could be. I could be engaged, if only by helping grandchildren with high school mathematics and Spanish via Skype or Facetime or volunteering to help with searches on Tomnod--a firm that uses crowdsourcing to search satellite images. I helped search for damaged bridges and roads after earthquakes or floods, for example. I could call or text a brother every day to make sure he was okay. I could study on Khan Academy or any number of other free sites for virtual learning. Then, a brain surgery last year meant to relieve, if perhaps only temporarily, the unrelenting pain, had a surprising result: I could walk again without cane or other support! And walking I am. I'll be joining 16,000 other women and supportive men in their lives in Austin's sister-city women's march on January 21. I'm still the person I used to be before disability hit, but now with confirmation of what I had always previously believed: we're all valuable, no matter our abilities. I'm in the community more these days, but because I'm aware that my surgery's effects can fail at any moment, I concentrate my energies on family, friends who at least believe that each of our viewpoints is valuable even if they're not shared, and joyful activities. Life happens to me as well as to anyone else, as the recent death of a beloved friend proves, but he lived joyfully and I am determined that I will, too.

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    1. What a powerful testimony to the unquenchable human spirit to survive and thrive. Bless you, Linda, for sharing your story, and for being an inspiration to anyone who reads your words. I have absolutely nothing to add to your inspiring thoughts. I am on my way to church in a few minutes; I will pray for you and your loved ones.

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    2. Oh Linda, what a story. You have inspired me in ways that you cannot imagine. Thank you.

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    3. Thank you both!

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  6. Just as with an other phase of life, there will be mountains and valleys and dips in the road. During the 6 plus years of my retirement, I've found my secrets include:
    1. having a purpose/priority for most days to keep the sense of accomplishment alive;
    2. keeping hope alive as hope provides a future orientation and keeps me from living in the past;
    3. looking for something delightful in my day -- perhaps from nature or from poetry or simply an unexpected kindness.
    Whether I'm at home, at our lake cottage, or travelling, I try to keep these principles top of mind. On days when bad news hits, I try to re-frame the bad news as entering a valley or a dip in my life's journey and remembering that nothing lasts forever.

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    1. I like the mental "trick" of picturing problems or bad news as simply a dip in the road that eventually ends with a move back uphill. Your list is one anyone would benefit from following.

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  7. We will be coming up on 2 years retired in May 2017 and so far it's been even better than we imagined. Now, I did a LOT of planning leading up to retirement, both financial and probably more importantly the non-financial side of retirement (that's how I found your blog a few years back) and I have to say the planning has paid off. We have also been lucky so far in that our health is still good and that is one of the things you can't plan. What's made it successful for us?

    Family: I would say without the pressures of work, meeting demanding timelines with ever smaller budgets, has lead to way less stress and to an improved relationship with my wife - this has to be at the top. Both our daughters live nearby (one married, one not) and we see them frequently along with our 2 year old grandson (and another grandchild on the way). It was good before but close family relationships are important, especially now that we have time to really appreciate what that means.

    Leave Your Comfort Zone: We have an annual trip overseas to Europe, a one week visit with my wife's sister and brother-in-law then off to wherever else we've always wanted to see. In winter we are snowbirds for 3 months in a small village in Mexico to get away from the cold here in Canada. We have really enjoyed the luxury of time to travel and live outside of our everyday surroundings (no pre-packaged tours for us it's all self-guided) we find it shakes things up and gives you a real perspective on the rest of the world you can't get any other way.

    Staying Active: We took up hiking twice a week, one day a local hike of about 8km and the another day a 15km section of a 900km (500 miles) trail that we intend to complete end-to-end, but not all at once, this is a "how ever long it takes" goal and 300km so far. We've even joined a hiking group in Mexico. I also head to the community center gym twice a week for a good thrashing by my trainer, it's actually not as bad as all that and having a trainer makes actually go to the gym otherwise I'd find some excuse not to. I volunteer at our local theatre a couple of times a month and my wife has a weekly exercise class and weekly art class that she thoroughly enjoys.

    At just under 2 years it's still early days of course but for us those 3 things have made for a successful retirement for us and life is good.

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    1. That all sounds excellent. I can see a lot of what Betty and I do in your comment. I would certainly place family first, too. Leaving your comfort zone is also important, though we haven't done as much as you, with the yearly excursion to Europe or three months in a foreign country.

      Very inspiring and encouraging..thanks!

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  8. I'm retiring in about 3 months! I stopped obsessing about finances a while back as there's not a lot I can do at this point. I'll be fine financially. But I have worried a lot about the purpose of this post. How do I make sure that the 40 years of hard work, saving, and delayed gratification is worth it in the end? How will I measure success. So for me, I'll measure success by how I FEEL.

    I know how it feels to be in the middle of a normal week week at my job - tense, anxious, stressed, concerned about long-term and short-term problems. No laughter, no smiles. I can wake up at 3 in the morning and have the same feelings. It never stops.

    So for me success will be about letting go of all that. Remember how you felt at age 13 or 14 on the first day of summer vacation? For me, I was too young to be expected to work, and old enough to have unlimited freedom. For three months (which seemed like a lifetime) I could go anywhere my feet or bike could take me as long as I was home when the streetlights came on. I almost always had a smile on my face. Am I over-romanticizing? Sure - but I remember the feeling. Hoping to find it again. So I'll try new experiences on, and see how they feel.

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    1. Capturing that feeling of freedom we had when we were younger...yes...that is the essence of success during retirement.

      Toward the end of my career I really felt as if I was just marking time, repeating the same advice, doing the same things with just different actors over and over. The stress of replacing clients who left, worrying about the business, and finally watching it slip away was over-the-top stressful. When we finally decided it wasn't worth it any more, the weight lifted from our shoulders was tremendous.

      Best of luck to you, Richard. Retirement is quite a ride.

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  9. In my early adulthood I had four simple goals; (1)own a nice home (2)educate my children (3)take a nice vacation every year (4)retire with dignity. I accomplished 1 & 2. I didn't always get a vacation, but after many years of hard work, I made it to number 4 with absolutely no idea of what it actually meant to retire. I just knew that I wouldn't allow myself to be bored. Three days after retiring my wife and I took off on a five week road trip and have enjoyed two more similar trips since. After each trip I have added an activity to my purpose driven life. I now blog about promoting and participating in an active retirement lifestyle. I answered a call to be an elder in our church, and I joined the YMCA and love it. All along the way I have made new friends and found interesting activities to pursue. I suppose that my definition of a successful retirement is one of achieving enrichment through the vast amount of opportunities and experiences that are available to us. I have attended our church for over 30 years, but until I began my term as an elder, I was overwhelmed by the number I did not not know. The experience of making new friends has enriched me greatly. Finally, as someone who worked hard at my career, I also take great pleasure in being able to sit and do absolutely nothing on occasion and not feel one smidgen of guilt about it. For me, that's success!

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    1. ....And, having a meat loaf party! Ha. (readers, see Easing Along's latest blog post). I love a good meat loaf.

      The idea of adding a fresh activity after an extended road trip is a great idea. I usually come back from an RV trip with a few things I'd like to change or try. It seems that the time away from our normal routine allows for a burst of renewed perspective.



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  10. While I have always been committed to financial independence in retirement, it is not essential for everyone as many early retirees prove every day. Guess I could call it a goal nonetheless that we largely achieved, and are very grateful for.

    Retirement for me has been finding out my wife and I really love taking off for months at a time. We don't try to cram everything in as vacationers feel the need to, but just move into what feels like a second home environment. We also have found we have a lot of fun and find ourselves laughing a lot. We'll keep this going as long as we are physically able to, God willing.

    Deb and I plan to jointly step up our volunteering when we return home, at the local Rescue Mission. We have been blessed and need to do more than just financial contributions during this stage of our lives.

    I have done some thinking lately about what will life be like if Deb passes (her health is less than mine). Should I make some sort of plan? But then I say it is what it is, and to just maximize our lives together until that is not possible. We have been together for 37 years through all the ups and downs. I'll deal with it if/when it happens but until then, I'll try to make her life as happy as possible. I guess that has been and continues to be one of my biggest goals in retirement.

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    1. A special thanks for the last paragraph of your comment. For those of us lucky enough to be in a long term relationship (Betty and I will hit 41 years in June), thinking about what might lay ahead is always on the horizon. But, as you note, worrying about how we might react is worry that can only taint what lies between now and then. Making each other as happy and fulfilled as as we must be the day-to-day focus.

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  11. I'm fairly new to retirement (14 months) and honestly wasn't sure I was finished until about 7 months ago, when I had a job 'discussion' with a headhunter and realized I just wasn't interested anymore. My DH has been retired for several years, so now we're both home most of the time and that's been an adjustment. But overall, it's great. I'm still not sure what volunteer work I want to do or where the bulk of my free time will go, but for now, I'm finally unstressed and sleeping and eating well - cooking more and eating more healthy options. I knew but didn't really know how wound up and anxious work made me.

    One thing that continues to sink in is that I can do things on weekdays and not join the crowd on weekends at stores, movies, and various other places. And we can work around the weather rather than fight it. Example: we have fresh snow today and took advantage of it by cross country skiing. Tuesday we are scheduled to get rain that will melt it all. When I was working, I would have been frantically doing my weekend errands and probably packing for another flight on Monday morning. We haven't skiied locally for 10 years! What a treat.

    So I guess it feels successful so far, because I'm happier and not bored and have pretty much gotten past my initial bag lady money panic. Of course, I'm a newbie, but so far, so good.
    --Hope

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    1. It may seem minor to those not yet retired, but the point you make about doing errands, shopping, or entertainment during the week is one of those unexpected joys of having your schedule back.

      I used to worry about the weather because I traveled all the time. A storm somewhere in the country could make my life a mess. Being delayed in getting home was horrible. Now, I look at the forecast and smile, knowing that I can simply adjust today to accommodate whatever is happening out there. A rainy day means music, reading, a mid-day movie, or nothing but coffee and quiet on the back porch.

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  12. The happiest retirees I know hold their friends close, and their family closer. Alas, it's not so easy to do, since friends disperse and kids go off to find their own lives. But we try, and we try to make new friends as well, and we usually do okay for ourselves.

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    1. I am making a concerted effort to add more friends to our circle of acquaintances this year. I used to be quite comfortable in being a loner. Now, I am finding the more the merrier. It is adding a very nice sparkle to my life.

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  13. Your blog post are always so "spot on" re: retirement. I am the individual who retired after many years in a high level state government job. As you may recall, I retired from something, not to something. My job was my identity and it still hurts--I miss. I will have been gone from my state government career three years at the end of this month. You may also recall from a prior post, after one year, I went back to back full-time at a new job and at a much lower level. I hate every day and only look forward to weekends and holidays when I don't have to work. But, I have not had the courage to pull the plug and leave this current job, although I know it's not good for my physical or mental health. I guess I am afraid of going back to "retirement mode", whatever that may be. But like you stated in another post, the one thing we can't get back is time and I feel I have thrown 3 years out the window. Looking forward to your and others' reply to this post. Thanks for doing such a great service.

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    1. Without dismissing your obvious frustration and unease, may I suggest that all of life is a risk. We are guaranteed nothing during our time on earth, especially how long we will be alive. To continue to go to a job you hate out of fear that you can't find something better to do in retirement is, as you note, throwing time away with nothing to show for it.

      What do you do on weekends and holidays when you aren't at the job you hate? What have you done at other times in your life that put a smile on your face? Retirement isn't to be feared, it is to be embraced. It can't be worse than how you feel now. Think about what makes you happy; retirement can be much more about that than something to be feared.

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  14. I read Walter’s comments and felt compelled to respond as I feel I have some of the same feelings. I am in the process of trying to retire this year from a job that I do not like either. I only go to it for the money at this point. It is hard to get up and go in every day. I do not have an issue with what I would do when I retire as I have plenty of things to do every day that I would enjoy, from volunteering at my local high school to exercise and recreational activities and a host of other things that I do not need to list here. I actually am looking forward to retirement. Where my dilemma comes in is the fear of being able to afford to retire. I have a small pension that I am already receiving and can collect SS as early as a year and a half from now if I want to collect early. I also have plenty of savings and investments. My fear comes in where wondering if I can do this as I will be supporting both my wife and I on one retirement. I know there must be others out there that have had the same feelings/issues and was wondering for any input on what others have done to overcome this.

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    1. Peter, I can give you my feedback on your concerns since I went through the same thing. In my case, my business began to fail. Not wanting invest money into an attempt at resurrection, my wife and I convinced ourselves we would make it work. For 15+ years we have.

      If you have a pension, a decent SS amount coming in down the road and investments in place, then you are probably in excellent shape. If you don't have a load of debt or other expenses, you may find you can live comfortably and happily on substantially less than what is required while working. In our case, we were able to live quite nicely on about 50% of pre-retirement earnings.

      The important fact of retirement expenses is that you can adjust what you spend to match what is coming in much more easily after you stop work, than before. Adjustments are under your control.

      Your fear of the unknown is very natural, but very often overblown. Put together a budget for after retirement and see if you can make it work. I'll bet you can.

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  15. I've been retired for more than 3 yrs now. Retirement has proven to be an extension of life pre-retirement. I continue to engage in many of the extracurricular activities I participated in when I was working - engagement with family and friends, volunteering in the community (both locally and on a broader level, i.e Habitat for Humanity), self-care and exercise, reading/learning, social engagements, gardening, cooking, travel.
    Those things I did <8AM and >5PM, I now do between those hours of 8AM-5PM. When asked what I do in retirement, I respond that I look after myself and my place, a 160-acre piece of land in the country with a big yard. The big difference is that I get to do it without the time constraints of formal work.
    Everyday feels like a vacation when I don't have to punch the clock. I have so much more freedom as far as time is concerned. I can say "yes" more often because I don't have to get to bed so I can get up and go to work. Like others have responded, I can take advantage of opportunities.
    I do have a more limited income but I budget accordingly and manage to strike a nice balance. I do some casual work that provides me with what I call "walking around money". It helps that I have learned to enjoy what I can afford. It helps that I can live frugally when necessary in order to save for the big ticket opportunities, like a recent trip to Portugal. It helps that I am a home body. I get to enjoy my home on a full time basis, rather than do it part-time while I worked out of the home full-time for my entire adult life. It helps that I can be proactive vs reactive with most things.
    I am not oblivious to the challenges of family life with an adult child and an aged mother; or the limitations of aging that will prompt a move from my country home; or the politics of the nation/world; or the continual increase in the COL. However, I trust that I will continue to deal with all of life's challenges as I have in the past.
    Retirement is when you stop living at work and work at living.

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    1. Good overview, Mona. I hope Peter and Walter (comments above) see your comment. Making retirement living fit retirement income and interests are the keys.

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  16. For me what made retirement a success (so far) was putting things in place so that retirement started with a bang. New studies, voluntary work, even something as simple as taking up table tennis again. It all added up to a change of life and one that gives satisfaction where once there was stress, late nights working and headaches.

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    1. For some, a kickstart into the new freedom of retirement is the best choice. Obviously, you are thriving.

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  17. Bob, you are absolutely right! Retirement is a very personal matter. It's a mix of health, financial stability, strong relationships, travel opportunities, volunteer time, creative development and community involvement. What matters is that at the end of the day you are happy with the path you are taking and enjoy what you are doing.

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    1. The end of the day "test" is a good one. Not every day will get a gold star, but if there are more that feel that way than not, you are on the right path.

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  18. This post was a good read, and so were all the comments from newer and long-time retirees. I retired just six weeks ago from a job which in the last couple years made me feel like Richard described: stressed, worn out, and anxious all the time, and woke me up for sleepless hours of the same stress many nights. For a long time it was a great job, and I thought it would be hard to leave. I found that because I debated, planned, read about, and realistically thought about what emotions and challenges retirement might bring, because I spent many months preparing to leave my work responsibilities to others, and gradually took home my personal items over a few weeks, and because my husband was supportive, my last days were easy. I feel this made the "moment of retirement" a big success.

    I do not miss a bit of my job. The first month was taken up by holiday traveling and visiting, then spent a few days catching up on chores, housekeeping, and some other obligations. I am now allowing myself to go by feel, as Richard described, go with the flow, ease in to how I will spend my time and who I will be. We joined our "older adult" rec center, bought a National Park pass, and I've been able to sleep all night, read, watch a couple movies, sort recipes and craft supplies... Perhaps this won't occupy me forever. One thing that came to me when deciding to retire was, though I've only changed jobs a few times in my life, the new one was always exciting, interesting and provided new friends, learning and ways to serve others. Retirement can only be even better!

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    1. Your approach to retirement was what I have have called "test-driving." You prepared as fully as you could while still working, even taking home personal items from work over a period of time. Based on your reaction, it seems that was a perfect way for you to ease into this new phase of your life.

      I have enjoyed the responses to this post quite a bit. The comments reinforce my belief that each retirement path is unique; each one of us puts his or her own spin on what takes place.

      6 weeks into the greatest adventure of your life...welcome Cathie.

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  19. I am on an eight month leave from work, and due to return in the spring (to a different, less intense role at work). I am trying to make the decision about when to retire and where to move to after I retire. The leave has been wonderful, an escape from long hours and high stress, and like others have mentioned the freedom to use my time how I wish. The leave has been like a test-drive of retirement, and as it has progressed, I have found myself becoming more and more ready to leave my career and retire. Instead of focusing so much on what I will miss about work, I am now thinking about the opportunities retirement will bring. I am thinking about retirement as a transition to my new career as a writer, artist and volunteer. This post and people's responses have been very helpful and interesting to read.

    A dilemma that we have is where to move to after my retirement. We know we do not want to stay in our current city. Or main choices boil down to: return to the community/region that most felt like "home" and where many of our friends are, or move to a lovely area where we have never lived but which is near several of our kids and grandkids. Bob, have you written on this topic of moving long distance to be near adult children?

    Jude

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    1. Yes, I have written about moving soon after retirement. The bottom line is, don't, if it means moving away from family and friends. But, that doesn't sound like your situation.

      Here are a few questions for you to think about: how far apart are the two choices, and how likely are your kids to stay put? How many friends do you have in the area that feels like home? How old are your grandkids?

      If the two areas are not tremendously far apart you can live in one and visit the other without too much trouble. If your kids are likely to relocate at some point in the future, it would be risky to move to an area you don't know if family moves away. If your grandkids are teenagers, or soon be of that age, they are not likely to spend a lot of time with the grandparents. is that important to you or are occasional visits fine?

      Personally, I'd move near family but just because I know they aren't going anywhere. If I had no family, or we were not close knit , I would probably try the area I felt most comfortable in.

      Does that help?

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  20. It turns out that the key to retirement success (and happiness) for me is to continue learning new things. I suppose, as a retired academic, I shouldn't have been surprised by this; but I am. I didn't expect taking (and teaching) courses and other types of learning experiences to be so central in my retirement life. -Jean

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    1. If I could pick my perfect retirement community, it would be a small city of 50-75,000, with a medium-sized, active liberal arts college in town.

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