Is Your Retirement an End or a Beginning? by Bob Lowry
That is a good question with an important answer. Retirement is both an end and a beginning. It is a transition between two phases of life. Whether that is a positive or negative change is really one of attitude and expectations.
For many of us, our job, our career, the time we spent earning a living came to define us. The people we worked with may have been the core of our social structure. If married, our family’s life revolved around work commitments. Vacations happened when there was a lull in the schedule. Weekends may have been at the mercy of mandatory staff and management meetings. For those of us who traveled a lot, being home was more about catch up than relaxation and family. Hobbies or passions? No time.
When someone asked what we “do,” we had a ready answer: a description of our place in a company or industry. Raising a few children, being married or engaged, working on a novel….that wasn’t implied in the question. The “correct” answer was always related to our income.
For us, the start of retirement was the end of something: an easily defined, socially acceptable place in the scheme of things. For a period of time, we may have struggled to figure out who we were without the title. The answer to what we “do” became hesitant and poorly defined.
For others, retirement was a beginning, the conclusion to a life of work,
a clean break between two stages of life: one externally focused, the other internally. What had paid the bills and produced enough investments to stop was enjoyable and fulfilling. We liked our work. But, we knew life held something different for us. We were created for more. We embraced the break.
Maybe we worked at something because it was required to support us and others. The job was a slog to be endured. Nights and weekends meant a small taste of freedom. We wondered what else might satisfy us. When a chance to retire became more than a dream, we jumped across the break between the two ways of living, sure that something good lay before us.
How we mentally approached retirement was quite different but the final result was the same: another way of life. A poll on this blog asked “if knowing what you know now, would you have retired sooner than you did?” 62% responded that, ‘No, I retired at just the right time.”
To me, that is a good measurement of satisfaction. Whether the respondents initially saw retirement as an end or a new beginning, more than 6 out of 10 are happy with the timing. Add the 15% who wished they had begun their satisfying retirement earlier and there is an obvious conclusion: retirement could be both an end or a beginning, but however it was approached it is a welcome stage of life.
“Officially,” I am now into my 18th year of this part of my life. I loved my career and have tremendous memories. I entered retirement with some fear and uncertainty. It took a few years to find my stride. Now, I am exploring all I can be. Each part of life was quite different from the other, but I needed the first stage to realize the blessings of the second.
If you’d like to read more, here are a few articles to inspire you:
Life After Retirement: What Do I Do Now?
The first in a series of three new booklet-length resources is now available. Preparing For Your Financial Future after Retirement is a guide to the most exciting journey of your life, the one that takes place after retirement.
Whether you are still working toward this new phase of your life, or already there, Preparing For Your Financial Future should be one of the resources you consult.
By Bob Lowry