A year ago last week, I retired from working in the world of the Corporate Overlords (early retirement – I’m only 57). My departure letter is still epic and makes me smile. Farewell Letter. I learned a lot about retirement and thought I’d share some tid bits for those of you that might be considering it.
You need something to do. Me; I am one of the owners of a small game company and a writer. Retiring meant that I could focus on doing what I love, writing. I am cranking the books out as a result and loving it. In many respects, I’m working longer hours now but I only answer to myself. Our little company, Creative Juggernaut, launched a successful Kickstarter and delivered on it already.
A lot of people that retire don’t have something to fill their lives and that is a lot more challenging. For those folks it is easy to get sucked into watching TV. You need to dive deep into your hobbies and interests…don’t be a couch potato. It doesn’t matter if it is model trains, playing games, visiting national parks, or working on a book – you need some things to do.
Time becomes fuzzy. When you worked, the weekends had meaning. When you are retired, every day is Saturday. There are a lot of times I don’t even know what day of the week it is – let alone what number on the calendar. Most importantly, I don’t care about what day of the week it is.
Don’t make an unachievable honey-do list. I had a friend that retired and had a goal of cleaning out his garage. It hasn’t happened yet. Look, when you set a big goal, it is easy to blow it off. You need to have small, achievable goals for home improvement projects. Break a big task into small ones. Don’t say you’ll get the whole garage/basement done, settle for one wall or one room. Make the goals achievable. Do that, and you’ll be surprised at how much you can get done.
Continuous learning is important. When I was at work they made us take classes and I resented most of them. When you force someone to take a class, it usually is because of some management failure or legal issue. Outside of work, there were a lot of things I wanted to learn how to do. So I went to our community college and took a welding class. I wanted to make some furniture for our new house and wanted that industrial look. It took a while, thanks to Covid, but I finally finished the class. I found there are discounts if you are over the age of 55 in some instances for classes, so make sure you ask. I am always looking to keep my mind working by forcing it to learn new things.
Exercise. Look, your whole life you said that you simply didn’t have time to work out. Well, now you can. Get up and get at it. I have found that now that I don’t have to fit it into my schedule, I work out longer at the gym and go more often. I feel like I am the only person to come through COVID in better shape than when I started.
You need some sort of routine. Humans are creatures of pattern and behavior. So come up with some sort of schedule for your life, even if it is very basic. It gives you a reason to get up and some sort of way to measure time. I have found that even a very basic routine gives my life the structure I was missing from when I was ‘working for the man.’
Spend time with your loved ones. My wife and I are building a new house. So, temporarily, we are in an apartment. It is pretty cramped and you’d think we’d be at each other’s throats, but we are actually having a lot of fun. We have identified some 20 different restaurants we have never eaten at and are slowly working our way through the list. Every meal is date-night. Additionally, thanks to COVID, we watch our grandson every other week while he does virtual schooling. I have seen more of him and my daughter in the last three months alone than I did in the previous two years. My grandson and I play Fortnight and have fun together. (PS. I recommend video games – they help with concentration, hand-eye coordination, and are a lot of fun.)
I also take the time to call my other relatives. I always felt rushed before retirement, having to squeeze in time for other people. Not any longer! I try and connect every few weeks and it is a meaningful discussion.
You won’t miss your friends from work as much as you think. I keep in contact with four people from work, two of which are still imprisoned (working) there. I had to cut off a few ‘friends’ entirely because they posted terrible political posts that I could not tolerate. (I find that I don’t have the need to engage with people about idiotic political stuff like I used to.) I don’t miss work in the least. There are only two people that can tell me what to do, my wife and my dog. When I hear about stuff happening back at work, I find myself satisfied that I made the right decision at the right time. Keep in touch with your real friends from work.
Feel free to share this with people who are considering retirement.