Many retirees-to-be envision their own retirement based on what they witness playing out around them. How parents live their daily life post-working world provides one insight into possible paths. Observing friends and neighbors as they make the best of challenges that come with aging can offer one more perspective. What we see on television, the movies and the media shines a spotlight on yet another set of potential ways our second act may play out. And anyone 50 or older has likely been warmly welcomed to the fold by the folks at AARP who regularly share first hand experiences from retirees around the world.
Although the generic concept of retirement includes certain common elements how individuals go about living their second act can be as unique as their own personal snowflake. Each of us has the ability and the freedom to create our own scenario based upon what matters to us most, what we hold dear, and how we really want to spend our time now that we can make our own choices.
When it comes to retirement it is as the saying goes different strokes for different folks.
The Part Timer
There are some who though having achieved “retirement age” still find genuine satisfaction in working. Whether the option is to stay within the same area of expertise or try something new, their ideal retirement includes work in some shape or form. Many enjoy regular interaction with co-workers and cannot imagine life without sharing important moments with peers. Others value the feeling of worth a regular paycheck affords. Some see retirement as their chance to try a new career path, something that genuinely matters and allows them to harness their creativity. Just because we are a bit older does not mean we do not have something to offer. Working part time or for a cause you value can bring meaning to the days, an important ingredient to any successful retirement plan.
Pursuit of Pleasure
Where one group of retirees is happiest including some work in their life others want to be as far from the job as possible. They have put in their time, paid their dues, answered to the big boss for long enough and once retired plan to aggressively enjoy their freedom. This is their time to revisit passions and hobbies that until now they did not have time for. No longer tied to the clock each day can roll out at whatever pace suits them best. You might find these retirees stretched out on a tropical beach with Mai Tai in hand or casually enjoying 18 holes at the local country club or savoring a long lunch with no pressure to be anywhere anytime soon. Some may call them selfish with so much focus on their own happiness. But in reality that selfishness just may be tainted with a slight jealousy regarding their path chosen. The good thing is we each have the luxury of changing our own course should we be so inclined.
Make up for Lost Time
Some look to retirement as their chance to make up for time lost while working the daily grind. Travel demands, late meetings, working weekends all took a toll on the lives they would have preferred to live – namely spent with their family. How many little league games were missed? How many ballet recitals took place with their set empty? How is it possible that those squalling bundles of noise and pungent smells matured into the young adults they are now? Retirement puts you back in control of your time and your calendar. This can be the opportunity to re-establish ties that weakened and show the love you have always felt but were unable to squeeze into a busy schedule. And what a lucky generation of grandchildren wait in the wings. If you could not be there as often as you hoped for your own children, grandkids are a great way to make up for lost time.
Take it Day by Day
Not everyone has a plan for retirement. This can be dangerous if you find yourself bored after one year “on the job” and are not sure what to do for the next two decades. However others can be just fine with a little flexibility in their day. With no one telling them what to do they are free to explore whatever interests them for the moment. Little is in the must do now category so stress is minimal. Maybe today is a good day to write a blog or perhaps take a hike along that newly identified trail. I might read then workout then have lunch then nap. Perhaps me and the missus will schedule a few days down the coast – mid week of course (why hassle with weekend crowds now that we don’t have to). Boredom might show its ugly head upon rare occasion but generally this retiree has a good list of to-do’s to engage her efforts.
A little of this, a little of that
I would venture to say most of us are some combination of the above. We may spoil ourselves one week and the next reach out to family or friends that have fallen off our radar. We may try our hand at a short work gig but later return to the no work ever state of mind. We can even go back and forth – it is up to us.
It is important to remember there is no absolute right or wrong when it comes to living the retirement that is best for you. Not always will you automatically find yourself traveling the right course. Things change, people change. Our ability to adapt and make the best of whatever our situation will help us realize a meaningful fun retirement. That is in fact the right retirement for each of us.