I have been thinking this week about people I know who are in various stages of the retirement process.
For the most part my fifty something friends are languishing in a state of denial regarding the fact that, like it or not, they are inching their way towards “decision day”. I won’t call it retirement, because that is a taboo subject at dinner. We can talk about bad knees, high cholesterol, and cutting back on sugar, but not the big “R”.
My newly retired friends are a mixed bunch. Some made no plans and spend huge amounts of time playing with their Ipads and avoiding cleaning the house. Others have been on a “see the whole world” mission spending months at a time on the deck of a cruise ship. Still others had an idea that they would spend time “reconnecting” with their spouse and are now nervously admitting that they are driving each other bonkers.
I have also noticed that some of my retirement blogging compatriots seem to be running out of puff – I don’t think they have run out of things to say about retirement, but I do think it is possible that they don’t realize exactly what they can write about that will be beneficial to others (I’ll come back to this in a moment).
And then there is my Dad. At eighty-one he still lives alone in his own condo; driving his car, writing, painting and helping to care for my nine year old niece during her summer vacation. What is even more remarkable is that Dad took early retirement at about age fifty-seven and has really never missed a step.
Hmmm … maybe there is something to be learned from dear old Dad after all!
And then there is me … chugging along with a day job and this growing blog and Facebook project. Someone asked me how I get it all done the other day and when I stopped to think about it the only answer that I could give them was, “because I pace myself”. Bill Storie and I have goals regarding how we want to grow this project, but we accept that it is not going to happen overnight – it is going to be a mountain climbed in very small steps.
Interestingly, my Dad has more or less the same outlook – he has a goal of seeing his granddaughter graduate from high school. Every day he gets up with that goal in mind and does small things to move toward it. He grocery shops because she needs snacks, he organizes outings to entertain her, he exercises to stay strong. His goal is very long term and no amount of rushing or frustration will make it happen any sooner.
So what have I learned from all this?
Perhaps, the key to a happy retirement is to set a long term goal that cannot be achieved by skipping steps; something like “I want to climb the Matterhorn when I turn eighty” (Ok most of us would not want to do this specifically, but you get the idea). If you do go this route, not only will your life have focus and purpose, you will always have something to talk about at dinner (besides your knees of course).
And my blogging friends … if you are up to it, you can pick long term goals and give us all updates regarding the progress you are making maintaining a slow and steady pace, and any challenges you face as you go along.