|Which door will I pick?|
How many times in your life have you had to make a decision but you were not sure that was the best one? How many people did you trust with important secrets or information? When you decided it was time to retire, how sure were you things would work out the way you dreamed they would?
In each case and too many more to mention, you had to take a leap of faith. You had to trust instinct, experience, feedback from others, and maybe, just a dash of bravado and luck to take that step.
Retirement is very much a leap of faith. Think back to the first morning you woke up retired and unemployed. Do you remember that incredible feeling of freedom, followed almost immediately by, "what have I done?" A blank slate replaced an obligatory schedule. The comfort of familiarity and routine was not there.
If you married, a huge leap of faith came with the vows. With 50% of all marriages ending before "death do us part" you were rolling the dice with not only your future, but that of another, and even future miniature versions of you.
If you decided to remain single, you probably fought against loud voices from family and friends, telling you to get with the program. Mom and dad wanted grandkids. Your buddies are worried about you remaining the only one in the group without a wife or husband to complain about. Your singlehood required a solid sense of who you are and a leap of faith that you were right.
Divorce? A big leap. Regardless of the circumstances of breaking up a marriage or long-term partnership, such a move comes with serious costs, both financial and emotional. Add some children to the equation and life becomes much more complicated.
Back to retirement, suddenly you are truly the master of your own universe. Sure, there are plenty of responsibilities that don't stop with the job, but the amount of freedom can be overwhelming, at first. "What Do I Do All Day" remains the number one question among new retirees.
It is easy to make two very different decisions at this point: over-commit or lock the door and stay on the coach, regretting the lack of a purpose. Neither shows a leap of faith, but a misguided attempt to avoid that jump.
The majority of new retirees fall into the first trap. Family suddenly sees you as an always available babysitter. A parent asks you to be their full time shuttle to medical appointments, shopping trips, and bingo night at church. Every volunteer bone in your body urges you to fill your newly blank day with a two hour shift here, a weekend schedule there, and a board position with an organization you can barely spell.
Or, instead, you bemoan your sudden lack of relevance and involvement. Work friends quickly drop away. The projects around the house feel like make-do work. You have a noticeable drop in energy and drive. You may blame that on age; in reality it is feeling a lack of purpose.
I won't rehash all your options to get out of the over-volunteer situation, or the ways to break away from feeling like you lost your identity after leaving work, There are nearly twelve years worth of posts here that can help you.
But, what I will say is you must embrace a leap of faith...making a choice right now, to open your arms to something, anything, that pushes you forward. Importantly, whatever you decide to do isn't going to be the final answer, the perfect choice. If life is change, then retirement is life facing a revolving door with unlimited exists.
You survived all those "mistakes." You are here, alive, and reading this post. The worst that could happen...didn't.
Now is the time to consider a leap of faith, a jump into freedom, a step into the unknown as simply one of the benefits of living a satisfying retirement.
You can do this. You must do it to prove to yourself that you have unlimited potential and boundless opportunities straight ahead.
You just have to jump over that little boulder in your path. Have faith!
Of course, you know I need these words probably more than anyone who reads them. Thanks for the encouragement as I begin my on-the-road trip in a few days to discover who I am without a spouse, and maybe more importantly, who I want to be. The choice is mine. As you say, all I have to do is pick a door.ReplyDelete
The only comment about the content of the post I might make is that some of us didn't really choose to be single. Instead, who we are made that happen until it didn't.
I read in your most recent post that you had a positive Covid test that has delayed your road trip a bit. My very best wishes for a negative test and a beginning of your long-dreamed about trip.Delete
I venture to guess that you will learn a lot about yourself by the time you get home. I will be very interested to read what you have to say . Certainly this journey is a large leap of faith.
I would say the biggest leap I/we made was not having children. We married in 1980 when childless by choice wasn't a thing yet. For 28 years we were asked when we were having children. No one believed OR supported our choice. Instead telling us "you don't know what you're missing", "you won't regret it", "then why did you get married" to name a few. It made me so damn mad!!!! Heck, after 42y I can still feel "the feels" those lines gave me.ReplyDelete
Leaping into retirement was actually easy for me. I had worked hard and hubster still does...by choice. We lived on 30% of our income the final 10y of my working life and our current financial situation says we won't be broke until we are 105yo-which is unlikely given our family histories. And hey, if I'm broke at 105 I shall revel in that achievement and go quietly as did Scott Nearing.
Volunteering? I quickly learned it wasn't for me. Everyone wants a weekly schedule and I didn't retire to work for free and still have no control over my life to be a free spirit. My volunteering is making quilts to donate in our community.
Great post and great food-for-thought.
Even today, the childless decision probably raises eyebrows, though it is no one's business except the couple involved. I salute you and your husband for sticking with the decision that was right for you.Delete
That was certainly a leap of faith.
I have made bad decisions and good ones!The good still out strip the not so good.You cannot change the past but hopefully I have learned from it.Anyway I am happy on my 73 years of being on this earth today.Happy birthday brother!ReplyDelete
A very Happy Birthday to you. I will join you at 73 on Tuesday!Delete
Retirement wasn't as big a jolt to me as it is to many. I worked from home as a writer for a website. Retirement was forced on me by chronic illnesses that made it impossible to write fourteen hours a day on the days when I wrote the lead articles. I merely switched the focus of my writing, returning to writing fiction. In the mid-1990's, I'd sold five YA novels in the U.S. and Germany. My work is slowed by my illness and dealing with the ennui that temporarily struck me after vaccinations became available and I was told I wasn't a candidate, but it's picking up now. Still, we make a leap of faith now every quarter, when we assess whether we should stay in our home of fifteen years or seek something smaller. So far, we're still here. Our home is paid for. After all these years, we have a raft of trusted people such as electricians, plumbers, handypersons, and lawn care. As you likely know, mass transit in small towns in Texas is almost nonexistent, but I'm lucky enough to live where, if necessary, a bus will pick us up and take us to appointments, even into Austin. When my husband goes out to ride his recumbent trike, he's sometimes gone 45 minutes more than I expect, because he's stopped to talk to neighbors who are working in their yards. Our one-acre lots and ability to see and talk with others while still maintaining six feet of distance was of immense importance during the worst of Covid. Middle-aged neighbors stop by or query us "elderly" on FB if water is cut off or they see lawns unkempt or especially during last year's Texas freeze. We can always find a teen to take over dog-walking duties to make money if we can't do it. A daughter in Austin wants us to move closer, but we can't afford her part of Austin, and where we would live would be as far away from her in travel time as we are now. So, for now, we're here, but it will soon be time to have that discussion once again.ReplyDelete
Oh, and Happy Birthday to you and "Anonymous," too!Delete
Thanks for the birthday greeting! Nothing special planned except to celebrate the start of another Bob-year above ground!Delete
We all make leaps of faith even if we don't call it that. The last two years have involved all sorts of calculations of the risks involved in seeing people, not seeing people, shopping, keeping our passions alive, and when to re-engage. I like the insight into your husband's habit of keeping neighborhood ties alive, from the safety of his bike.
Like you, moving to a retirement community is not on the front burner, but somewhere close by. It is a leap that we will take maybe before we are ready, but we don't want to burden our kids with any serious aspect of our care.
I have taken several leaps of faith over the years (divorce, cross country moves, remarriage, etc.) and can't say I regret any of them. For a long time, my motto was "better scared than bored." Ahh, youth.ReplyDelete
Jimmy Buffett has the right idea: "I'd rather die while I'm living, than live while I'm dead."Delete
From a new 74-year-old to a new 73-year-old, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BOB! And thank you for all that you bring to us, your loyal readers. I bet each one of us identifies with all the issues you raise about retirement. Maybe it's because we're all human!ReplyDelete
Very, very human! Thanks. Bruce.Delete
Happy Birthday, Bob, from a fellow-73rd-er! Thank you for the wit and wisdom of your posts and the insightful community you have gathered around your blog. Very enjoyable!ReplyDelete
From Charlene HDelete
You are quite welcome! I enjoy the writing and our community.Delete
As you know,Ken and I had to take a few leaps of faith during our early retirement.We even made some “mistakes!!” We thought we’d love living the mountain life, and after buying a big house up there, we DIDN’T!! So, we rectified our error.. luckily we had rented out our home here in the valley “just in case” so we came back “home” and all was well.Lesson learned. When Ken chose to start chiropractic school we had to have a L OT of courage, we had little money, a child, and not really enough savings for tuition.We went anyway..and by the second semester a special student loan program opened up and saved our skin.And an uncle gave us a small monetary gift to supplement our funds. Life NEVER gives guarantees. If we never ever take a risk or we don’t “lose” once in a while, we are probably not living life fully!!ReplyDelete
If you think about it, there are really two types of risks that require a leap of faith: the ones we choose and the ones choosen for us by circumstances. It is how we react to both that determines the course of our life.Delete
BTW, happy birthday, yesterday, to Andrew. Hopefully, this will be the year his health returns.