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I’ve been retired for five years now, yeah, that’s right, I dropped out early. Many people are worried about retiring, even if they are prepared financially. They worry that they won’t be able to adjust to life without work. I think there are several factors that can be looked at. First is your home life, and that’s your business. Second is, are you financially prepared to be without a regular paycheck, this I’ll address briefly latter. The third is your focus in life. Is your focus more on your career or more on your life outside of work, or is your focus balanced between the two? Clearly it is best if your focus is balanced. One or the other will suffer if not given the attention that it deserves.
In the movies and on TV shows the heroes, whether they are police, doctors, or lawyers, are working day and night. They are there first thing in the morning and they are ready to make a bust at midnight. I always wondered, don’t these organizations have shifts or watches? Can’t other cops chase the bad guys now and then? I actually know people that work in that mode in software development and engineering. I believe those are the people that would have the toughest time adjusting. Work is their life. Being at home is so momentary that they hardly establish a presence there. I have heard of people I know that retired and went back to work within a year because they were going crazy at home.
That’s not me. In my forty years of creating software for the Navy I have done some interesting and, at times, exciting work, but it was work. If there was not a deadline coming up and or problem that had to be solved immediately, I put in my eight hours and I went home. To me work was work and relaxation was done outside of work. I always said that it is a smart person that allows time in their schedule to do absolutely nothing. For me retirement was and still is a great pleasure.
Cathy and I have no problem being together all day. We have things we do together and we have our own things to do. Cathy goes to Arena Stage with her friend once a month to see Broadway plays, and I play Dungeons and Dragons with my friends once a month. That’s right, I’m a geek. I’ve been playing D&D for over thirty years. Cathy goes to her exercise classes at night and I go to martial arts; we go to the gym together weekday mornings. Most of the time we are together at home or going out together and we haven’t got sick of each other yet.
Some people wonder if they will miss the rat race. They wonder if it will feel like they are standing on the sidelines watching the world go by. The way I see it, when you retire, you trade the rat race for life flowing at a gentler pace. There is a whole society among retired people with chances to meet new friends and hundreds of new interests to discover. I received two of my black belt ranks since I retired. I am very happy to let the younger generation take charge of the rat race; I never one that was going to change the world anyway.
I will just make a brief mention of the financial aspect; you have heard me preaching enough on this topic. I had talked about using fear to keep you in line health wise. I suggest that the younger generation do the same thing when it comes to retirement. Imagine being sixty-five years old and knowing full well that your savings would last you more than a year and then you would be living on social security. You can’t plan many cruises on that budget. Now imagine being even older and still having to get up every morning and go into work afraid that this will be the day that company forces you out. Keep those images in your head when you look at your contribution to your 401-K, or your lack of contribution. Those images will come true if you don’t do something to change the future.
Don’t fear retirement. There is a whole new world of living to do out there.