Tuesday, September 25, 2012

retirement: scripted or impromptu?

Are you retired? Thinking of retirement? Planning for retirement?

An article titled "New Retirees: Avoid These Mistakes" lists seven things to watch out for in retirement. Four of the seven relate to money (not quitting before retirement is vested, having adequate health insurance, that sort of thing). The three remaining mistakes are:
  • Moving to a place where you don't know anyone.
  • Thinking your health will hold out forever.
  • Spending too much time on travel and new hobbies.
The article got me thinking about how a person or couple might find themselves making those mistakes, and about retirement generally.

Personally one of the best things I did to prepare for this time of life was to get a little training and begin working as a freelance writer in my 50s. Ten years later I don't feel retired at all and am rarely bored or at loose ends with nothing to do (hubby is always bugging me to be more retired and less busy and scheduled). A friend of mine who has just retired from the federal civil service has spent evenings and weekends the last few years getting trained as an interior designer and decorator so she can start a whole new career in her retirement.

Of course if we are leaving satisfying work and a community of colleagues, retirement can feel very disorienting. As Dale Hanson Bourke describes it:

"My identity is no longer tied to a title or an organization .... If I cared to, I could certainly spin a good story when people ask what I'm doing nowadays; but most times, I don't bother. 'I'm doing a bit of this and that,' I reply. I've abandoned the ten-second power speech I once had ready to impress anyone who asked" - Dale Hanson Bourke, Embracing Your Second Calling, p. 104.

A friend of hers who is at the same life stage said:

"I'm no longer known as the president of my firm; I no longer have people being nice to me because of my position on the Board of Trade. My children are adults, and I am now challenged to find my new identity. It's exhilarating and terrifying at the same time" - Bourke, Op. Cit, p. 104.
What are your thoughts about retirement? Do you dread it? Look forward to it? Are you preparing for it in any way?

If you are retired, did you prepare for it or just let it unfold? How is it working out?
Violet Nesdoly / poems
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borchtbaby said...

We've always said that we didn't want to retire until we were too busy to work. Healthy, happy retired folks are a great resource to family, the Body of Christ, and the community. There is more to life than golf.

Linda at teacherdance said...

It's a good post, Violet, full of good questions that thoughtful people should certainly answer. I think I will probably keep working at my school until I just cannot, but have made my colleagues and daughter promise to tell me if they notice changes (I may not). I have a few writing goals

violet said...

I like that: "too busy to work." You two are a great example of folks being a resource...and you're not even retired yet. But your busy-ness might indicate it's coming soon?

violet said...

Linda, I like what you say: "...but have made my colleagues and daughter promise to tell me if they notice changes." That's a little dread that's in the back of all of our minds as we age, isn't it? My mom was wonderfully sharp until she died at 92. What a blessing!

And I hope your writing goals all get realized!

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