If you think life is full of surprises just wait until you retire! No matter how prepared you might think you are your second act will be littered with unexpected twists and turns, unimagined adventures and new experiences, and hopefully many truly memorable moments. But until you are actually living the life you only think you know what to expect.
Before I retired I did my due diligence. I read books and blogs, talked with retirees, and tried to figure out what I would like and not like to pursue once I departed the working world. I imagined what it would be like to get up each day with nothing required of me beyond what I wanted to do. It sure sounded good but things don’t always turn out the way you plan.
Out of the blue
While still a youngster at the childlike age of 53, I found myself unexpectedly unemployed with no real prospects on the horizon. I searched valiantly and relentlessly for my next gig but after a year of rejections and “we decided to go another way” I was pretty disheartened. I didn’t feel that old. I thought my years of experience – decades actually – were surely worth something to someone. My plans regarding retirement had me calling it quits closer to 62 – I was far short of that target.
Fortunately I was able to retire earlier than planned. My wife kept working so our medical coverage was taken care of and cash flow remained positive. My days have evolved into a collection of activities and interests that keep me engaged from morning to night. I love being retired but never forget how blessed I am – not everyone’s situation is so rosy. I am learning to expect the unexpected.
You’re not too old
Some view retirement as the end of the road. Your career is behind you, the family is raised and on their way, and you have achieved some or maybe all of those major goals you set back in the day. Not much is expected of you now – just take it easy and enjoy the fruits of you labor. As my dad would say, “sit back and watch the grass grow.”
Not so fast.
This generation of retirees often enters their second act energized and excited about the coming decades. Accustomed to busy active days they have no plans to watch retirement from the sidelines. Finally granted the free time to pursue what lights their individual fire retirees are stepping out. So long as you remain physically able you can experiment and try new things. Who says you are too old? Stories of septuagenarian and octogenarian achievements are well documented. Feel free to add your name to the list.
You can get along with your spouse 24/7
If you think about it the longest time you have been with your partner 24/7 is probably on a 1-2 week vacation. That is not much of a test for the 10-20 year stretch that retirement promises. But you know what? You can make it work and it can be fabulous. My wife and I have been retired together a little of one year so we are still newlyweds in terms of our retirement timeline. We have learned a lot about what we like to do together whether hiking or playing cards or getting to know the neighbors or entertaining. We have also learned the importance of having our own interests to pursue. A little time spent on our own makes time together more special. Best of all we are comfortable just being together. We don’t have to fill the air with small talk. We don’t have to “be on” all the time. We can just be in the same room reading or doing whatever and we are happy. A harmonious retirement is all about being sensitive to one another and maintaining a willingness to adapt. There is plenty of room for both or you.
There’s not enough time in the day
Before I retired I was concerned I would not have enough to keep me busy. Sure I had a few hobbies and had my eyes on exploring a few more but was that enough to occupy me 10 hours a day 7 days a week? I remember discovering a blog Retirement A Full-time Job where Sydney Lagier shared her retirement journey. It quickly became clear she was anything but bored. Sydney was always on the go trying new things and never looking back. So there was hope!
These days I get started around 7:30 in the morning with coffee and the newspaper (a real newspaper, not online). With the many different interests I pursue throughout the course of the average day, before I know it I am looking at cocktail hour. Who has time to be bored? I have learned you can never have too many hobbies/interests/passions. I remain always on the lookout for the next addition to my list. I won’t say I am as busy now as I was when working full time but I sure enjoy what I am doing much more.
I read somewhere “retirement is only the beginning”. Now is the time to enjoy all the surprises our second act has in store.