Retirement is here… you have set the date; your advisor agrees you have enough assets and are prepared to live out the dream. You have given up so much to be here, sacrificed along the way and invested time to think about what retirement means for you.
Are you feeling anxious? Afraid that the days will stretch out and you will regret leaving work? Change can be hard. You are not the only one who doesn’t know what will happen when you throw away the alarm clock. As I discuss the target date for retirement with a client, they often fade away to some place in their head and the thoughts are swirling.
- What will I do all day?
- How much golf/bingo can I play?
- I can’t spend that much time with my spouse! He/She will drive me crazy.
- My parents didn’t do anything, do I have to not do anything?
- What value do I have if I don’t work?
Instead of retiring from life, let this be a period of exploration, having the freedom to do what you want, when you want. Be open to possibilities. You can explore many things. Is there something that you wanted to be before you had to get practical and earn a living – did you paint, ride horses, swim, hike the Appalachian Trail? Be outrageous buy a red Prius, get the Corvette that you wanted as a young driver. Find what brings you joy and share it.
Sometimes my job is to help out with brainstorming ideas, and here are a few stories from my life to get you started:
Pick up a new hobby – Doc was a friend in his seventies and not in the best of health. His dream was to be able to ride a horse. He found a place to do that and enjoyed several years of riding. He even helped with the horse care when he had time. I shared that experience with him and know that it brought him great joy.
Start something new – At a recent event at the Walters Art Gallery (https://thewalters.org/), I had the great fortune to meet some wise and friendly retirees. The skills they had in the workplace, they were using to help catalogue artwork and plan events. The staff at the Walters was immensely grateful for their help and expressed such appreciation. I could feel their happiness and know they felt valued and enjoyed the time spent doing this work that honored their values – bringing art to the community. If you want to get back into the art world, there is no better time to start. Also, a recent read, “It’s Never Too Late To Begin Again” by Julia Cameron, has some exercises to help you get back to the creative side you put away.
Make a move – A client of mine is so active after moving to a retirement community that he barely had time to drop off his tax information to me. Just last year he was clearing out the trees that fell in his yard prior to selling his home. He was happy to get rid of the work of owning a home, but wasn’t sure what he and his wife were moving towards. I am overjoyed to hear that their move is successful for them.
Volunteer – If you have been in my office, you have met Becky. Her parents are retired, active volunteers at the Howard County Living Farm Heritage Museum in West Friendship (http://www.farmheritage.org/). They have not a minute to spare amidst all the activity. They get the entire family involved in the events and love to share the farm with visitors. Their Christmas tree lightings every year bring in crowds.
Learn a new language – One client, Joe, is learning Chinese this year at an extremely reduced cost. Many colleges have special programs for seniors; Howard Community College has a full roster of college courses at reduced rates. A special event, the Senior Adult Summer Institute, has four days of unique one-day classes May 31 to June 3.http://www.howardcc.edu/programs-courses/continuing-education/courses/seniors/
None of these people are “working” like they used to; they are happily pursuing their dreams, which often are not what they expected retirement would look like. I’d like to think they have retired from meeting someone else’s expectations and have instead been able to work towards meeting their own.
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