If you are like most of us Baby Boomers, you have been at this working thing for 30 or more years by now. During those joyful years, you did not have to worry much about what to do during your day. You walked into the office and the flurry began with projects, deadlines, meetings, and various hurried events requiring your undivided attention and finely-honed expertise. Boredom was not even a consideration as you more likely found yourself at the end of the day with still more on your plate leaving you with the decision of taking it home or picking it up the next day.
Then one day, if you are lucky, you get to retire. Suddenly you find yourself in unfamiliar surroundings. Instead of battling the clock, you find yourself with free time to do what you want. Finally, you can begin to pursue those interests, those true passions that you were not able to until now due to the requirements of your job. The world is waiting for you to stake your claim and enjoy that second act you have so valiantly struggled to attain.
And for the first year or so, you will probably have no problem going at it. That to-do list you have been compiling over the years is about to get to-done. Those trips you and your partner have been dreaming of taking can now be booked. You even have the opportunity to just sit back and enjoy life without work, calmly savoring that morning coffee while enjoying the moments at a sane pace with no stress in sight. This initial honeymoon period of retirement is a wonderful thing.
Unfortunately, sometimes a good thing does not last forever. Before too long, you may find yourself asking, “Is this all there is?” What exactly is it that you will do for the next 20 plus years to stay engaged and excited about life? Do you have enough hobbies and interests? Without the duties of a job filling the calendar, what is really on the horizon?
And how about this – now that you are no longer ensconced in your career, who exactly are you? When you meet someone at a cocktail party and they ask “What do you do?” the answer is typically based upon what you do for a living. Well, you are no longer a working stiff so how do you describe the new and improved you? If you are unprepared for this moment, don’t be surprised to find yourself tongue-tied and a bit unsure of how exactly to respond.
Retirement offers us a chance to redefine who we are, who we want to be for the coming years. No longer tied to the job we do, we are free to release that inner person to explore and experience the world as we want to, not as we have to. If we are fortunate enough to have saved sufficiently to allow us to live our retired life as we choose, this second act has the potential to be an exciting encore to the life lived to this point. How many of us are closet authors or would-be-musicians that have been trapped inside a life that affords no time for expression? How many have felt prisoners of the daily grind, finding no satisfaction in the job beyond the monthly paycheck? Are there many among us who can say they remotely enjoyed the life lived as a member of the working masses?
So, now that we have the time to be who we want, how will that look?
We each are limited only by our creativity and willingness to try something new. Now is the time to cut loose that imagination we may have been forced to contain. And what is really cool about this time in our life is we do not have to answer to anyone’s definition of what is “right and proper” other than our own. Who cares what others think if we are doing what we really want to do, if we are pursuing those passions that light our fire. Retirement affords us the opportunity to do those things we choose and to be the person we have always wanted.
Are you ready?
From my blog for RetireUSA.net. Dave Bernard is the author of “I Want To Retire! Essential Considerations for the Retiree to Be“. Although not yet retired, he focuses on identifying and understanding the essential components of a fulfilling and meaningful retirement. He shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only The Beginning.