October 19, 2020

"We Retire From a Job, Not From Life"



Jude, at Dr. Sock Writes Here, wrote the words above as part of her response to a comment I had left on her blog. It really jumped off the page as an important point to emphasize. Especially this year of all years, when everything seems to have been upended, tossed by winds of uncertainty, and mixed with political insanity, we need to remind ourselves of the basic truth Jude states so simply.

Many of us work for several years to set ourselves on a particular career path. It may turn out to be a little convoluted and twisty with occasional false starts and cul-de-sacs. But, there is a method to our madness. We find our footing and spend the next several decades, making our mark, making money, and planning for our future.

Then, at some point, all of that effort and dedication comes to an end. Either perfectly planned or thrust upon us by the fickle finger of fate, what has defined us since our 20's, is no more. The relationships made on the job wind down. The order to our days and weeks is upended. The paycheck or commission that made life possible stops.

We are adrift on a sea we don't quite know how to navigate. We are on a journey with no clearcut direction or markers. Probably for the first time since we were three or four years old, our day-to-day schedule is our own; we must decide how to spend the time between waking and sleeping. It can be somewhat overwhelming.

Suddenly, like the sun breaking through a heavy overcast, we see a way forward. The trail appears before us. Not paved, certainly with rocks and slippery spots, but still a definite direction we start to follow. The retirement journey begins in earnest.

That is when Jude's "we retire from a job, not life" really hits us. The realization that all those years of work, those years dedicated to building something, those years of often putting others' requirements or demands first, have ended. Responsibilities continue, but they are duties we choose to fulfill. 

I have written about this startling shift in a life's direction hundreds of times. But, I am still excited to share the truth of the absolute freedom, openness, opportunities, and control that leaving the world of work in your rearview mirror creates.

If you are not convinced, spend just a little while looking at some of the comments left on many of the posts on Satisfying Retirement. The enthusiasm, welcoming growth with open arms, the sense of burdens lifted off one's shoulders, and the unleashed creativity are quite obvious.

Especially this year, we need to remind ourselves of how blessed we are to enjoy this time of life. I realize we are in the minority; billions struggle to feed themselves or find clean water. Through no fault of their own, millions of fellow citizens in this country find themselves in a financial mess or battling an illness that seemed to come out of nowhere and knows no boundaries.

Anything we can personally do to make some of these dreadful circumstances better for others should be near the top of our list. As the quote that started this post makes clear: we do not retire from life or the necessity of helping others. With time and energy under our command, we can do something to help.

Retirement is a privilege that requires us to fully embrace the possibilities and the power of our status. It is not a time of life to mourn what was, but to open our arms to what can be.


25 comments:

  1. My dad passed away a year after his retirement. He had plans that he was looking forward to and except for spending a good long summer at our summer home, he could not do what he planned all those years. I guess, those of us who retired should know that it truly is a blessing and we should try to make the most of it. For some people it becomes a reason for depression and that is very sad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunately, depression is not uncommon in newly retired people. The lack of identity separate from work, few friends, a strained relationship at home, boredom...all sorts of reasons.

      If you are someone you know has a this problem and it doesn't resolve itself within a few months, please suggest they get some professional help and do what you can to show them all the positives that retirement can hold.

      Delete
  2. Jude's words are perfect. I thought about retirement almost from the beginning of starting my career; not that I didn't like my profession. But I always thought about having the freedom to do anything I wanted. I don't remember when I got serious about planning for the financial part, but it was a long time ago. I made lists of things I would do to fill my days and bucket lists.

    Now, I am enjoying those plans although I had to be flexible with COVID. I do spend time volunteering and continue to look for more opportunities. But I love retirement!!! I try to subtly nudge my nieces and nephew into preparing but...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How retirement will change for future generations is an interesting question. As you mention, preparing for something so far in the future for young people is hard sell. Plus, they see how fragile the work environment can be and how all the rules seem to be under attack.

      Honestly, if I were starting this blog five years from now, instead of ten years ago, I think the content would be quite different. Retirement may be a goal that alludes many.

      Delete
  3. I think we spend a lot of our life "planning for the future". We go to school to prepare us for work, we work to secure "our future" and then to pay off the house so we won't have a mortgage "in the future". We save for retirement so we can retire "in the future" and we even save for our kids education so they can have "a good future".

    I think many find retirement a bit unsettling because we finally have reached "the future". This is it, it's not some mystical place we'll never reach. You've made it "the future" is now. Still, some of us still can't bring ourselves to quite believe it. We spend as little of our retirement savings as we can get away with in case we need it "for the future". In essence we deny ourselves and keep living as we have "planning for the future" even though this is the future we were planning for all our lives.

    You've made it, all your hard work has paid off, enjoy what you have worked so hard to achieve. You don't need to have anyone's permission to do all the things you didn't have the either time or money before to do. And early retirement is the best time, when you are as healthy and as strong as you'll ever be. Get out there and live your life!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As T'Pol notes in the first comment, none of us know how much time we have to enjoy life. We are geared to a future that is fleeting.

      Personally, I can relate to the problem of spending your working career pointing toward the "future." Saving aggressively and living below your means for 35 years should put you in a place to let go a little. But, after all that time, many of us are stuck in that mindset past the point where we need to be.

      If you can afford to do something and it is important to you, retirement is the time to fulfill that dream or desire. The cliche, "if not now, when?" fits perfectly.

      Delete
  4. BLISS! I retired the end of July 2019 so I am in month 15. I continue to thoroughly enjoy no schedule, no commitments, no alarm clocks etc. I worked so many hours in 39 years they equaled another 9y full time work! Such is life in the operating room field and leadership therein.

    I do what I want, when I want and there are still days where that is absolutely nothing ;-)

    I will be putting my garden to bed this week as the 2nd frost is coming. Tomorrow will be busy!

    Cheers to all!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In our climate, we just started putting out flowers and herbs in pots, as the weather is cool enough to not kill everything with the heat! We will enjoy the outside from now until early May, when we retreat back inside until late fall.

      Except for an occasional doctor appointment, I haven't used an alarm clock for 20 years. I wake up when my body tells me to. Isn't it nice?!!! After all those years of being told when to wake up, my body and mind appreciate the change.

      Delete
  5. I love the sentence, "Retirement is a privilege.." A true way to look at it and value what not everyone gets to experience. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome. Yes, we must never forget if we are in this state, we are definitely in the minority and should respect that fact and make the most of what we have.

      Delete
  6. Replies
    1. Thanks, Anne, and thanks to Jude for the inspiration.

      Delete
  7. It is also a time of life when you go around your house and look at all the stuff that you have accumulated and wonder WHY?? It requires cleaning and maintenance, etc. I am trying to figure out a way to just get rid of about half of this stuff!!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Plus, it is easy to wonder about all the money spent on stuff that didn't have the positive impact you thought it would!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I feel blessed,also, to be in this phase of my life,especially now. I love being retired. Took me a while to get the hang of it but I am deep in the groove, now! What I am missing is the volunteering I did in several areas, that made me feel I was sharing my blessings with others..with the time and energy I have, it felt good to give back.Now, I am not comfortable going to the kitchen where we helped prepare meals,even though they have cut back on number of staff to prepare meals for the homeless, the area is small and I would be in too close contacts with others for my comfort.Same at the Pet rescue. ANd a few other areas I spent time helping out.Maybe 2021? I have been doing some voting work on the phone. I will continue to try to find some ways to give back while in isolation...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Like you, I miss my volunteer work with Junior Achievement. I spent the last several years teaching 5th graders about economics and preparing for the job market. Obviously, that has stopped.

      My wife and I planned on being poll workers but both the need to commit to a 14 hour shift and Covid risks made that not happen either.

      Please tell me 2021 will be better!

      Delete
  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Well anonymous, we baby boomers are wearing our masks and staying home quite a bit.We’re voting.We’re helping one another,.My neighbors and I check up on each other. I regularly encourage Millenials,Gen X, Gen Y and Z to be active in their schools, their towns, their country..because their turn for leadership is coming up... Yes, a second wave is coming. And we Baby Boomers are ready!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The "Anonymous" hater is a regular fixture on a lot of blogs. He/she posts pretty much the same message every time, and every time I delete it.

      That said, I appreciate your spirited defense of us. We know we are doing all we can to make our community, country, and world a better place, in spite of some major obstacles thrown into our path!

      Delete
  12. I've referenced Barbara de Angelis' book "Real Moments" before. "Receiving money for what you do is not a validation that you are living your purpose and doing your real work - receiving joy and contentment is." Even if you're showing up to work just for the pay check there must be some satisfaction in being able to pay the bills? In an economic downturn, employment can be a privilege. Financial stability in retirement is a privilege. With every privilege comes responsibility. I've seen so many references to Groundhog Day during this pandemic and even in regards to retirement. Attitude is everything.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Very well said, Mona.

      I will use your "with every privilege comes responsibility" line: VOTE. No excuses, No "it doesn't matter" garbage. VOTE.

      Delete
  13. Like others, I find retirement grand after a period of adjustment. On my recent trip to the UK to spend a month with my new granddaughter and her parents, I had a layover in Boston for a few hours before my last leg. As my last flight time approached, a guy sat down a bit away from me, pulled out his phone and started making business calls. I listened to them (because one can't help but hear) and felt an intense gratitude that I wasn't doing that anymore. Setting up meetings, following up on calls, solving problems. I don't miss it. My time is my own and life is grand. Especially this year, we have so much to grateful for even if the pandemic has put a real crimp in many of our plans for now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have reoccuring nightmares that involve business trips or meeting or client problems that I couldn't solve during the dreams. I don't miss one moment of those pressures. The amount of time I spent in airports and one planes was astronomical.

      "My time is my own and life is grand." Absolutely.

      Delete
  14. Bob, thank you for mentioning my blog in this blog post. However, I cannot take the original credit for the statement “We retire from a job, not from life.” During the last couple of years of my career when I was struggling to decide whether to retire, I discovered the wonderful world of retirement bloggers (and yours was one of the first blogs that I found, Bob). I read widely, seeking advice about how to retire and what to expect when I retired. This statement that we are only retiring from a job, not from life was something I read on someone’s blog (and sadly, I cannot remember what blogger said it) that really resonated with me. Until reading that statement, I think I had been unconsciously assuming that retirement meant quitting all meaningful engagements, and no longer making any contribution to society. This, of course, is far from the truth. Recognizing this point was enlightening and helped me decide to retire three and a half years ago — and I love it!

    Jude

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome, Jude.

      I am encouraged by what I sense is a real change in people's expectations of what retirement is. The idea that we stop working for a paycheck and then all meaningful experiences in life stop is something that is disappearing. While I am sure there are plenty of folks who are entirely content to put their feet up and watch the world spin bye, that is increasingly a minority approach.

      Delete

Inappropriate comments will be deleted