On the one year anniversary of my retirement, I’m struck by all that I didn’t know or plan for. No, not the financial stuff…we each need to figure out our own strategy. But I’ve learned a few things– both to my joy and chagrin–that may help others heading down the road to retirement.
Before you retire:
1. Build a social network outside work. If most of your relationships are work-based, you need to cultivate friends in your community and neighborhood. I wish I had put more time into joining charitable organizations and political activity so I’d start off with a strong base of connections to launch my new life. Of course, you’ll still have your work friends, but over time, you won’t know or care so much about the goings on there.
2.Don’t just leave…lean out! If you can plot your departure to include a period of part-time work or contract/consulting, go for it. It’s a great way to keep up your skills and network. It’s also nice to have some extra cash coming in. I was fortunate to be able to change my role over a period of 2 1/2 years from CMO to special projects only to keep working at a place I loved but on a schedule that met my changing needs. And, from reduced hours, it wasn’t such a leap off a cliff to go from 20 hours of work to 0!
3. Spousal planning. Suddenly two people are at home and in each other’s way and interrupting each other’s schedule. Talk about it beforehand. Yes, you will love having more time together….but none of us signed up for 24/7 togetherness! Personal space and independence of movement should be discussed. And no doubt you’ll be renegotiating these agreements over time.
4. Take a class in anything to develop a learning habit. And keep taking classes as it’s not only good for discovering new interests and people but it also makes your brain work. During my transition period, I tried a couple of paper-making classes. Not for me. Too much prep work for this ADD person! Now I’m eying Spanish lessons as I’m closer to the border (more on this later)!
When you retire
5. Slow mornings are a gift. After decades of rush hour commuting, my favorite time is the slow morning. I watch the news on tv and on iPad in bed. Then, after morning stretches, I head down to make coffee and breakfast and get on my computer. The mate and I don’t talk much to each other in the morning as this is part of our personal/private space. But we’re sitting right next to each other so that’s still cozy!
6.You might lose weight. Without dieting, I lost 5-7 pounds (depending on how honest I feel) and hubby lost 10-15. Why? We do a lot less “stress” or boredom eating. We just get up and do something else. And we’re cooking home more which tends to be more healthy which leads me to….
7. You’ll cook more. Since my spouse retired before me, he started cooking more meals for his still working wife. Always goal oriented, he decided to master eggplant parmesan for both of us and grilling meats (for him!). We both like cooking and now we have more time for it. Plus, since we long ago solved the issue of “whose turn is it to do the dishes,” we don’t argue about cleanup!
8. You’ll read more but not sitting in a rocking chair! We signed up for FREE ebooks and audiobooks at the library and have a constant stream (pun intended) of good literature and non-fiction. We travel a lot so a good read is great company in the car going far, or on a walk in the rain or riding fast in a bullet train, or sitting restless on a plane. Reading, reading everywhere!
9. Podcasts are a great companion. When walking solo, I love listening to my favorite podcasters: On Being with Krista Tippet (soulful stuff); Design Matters with Debbie Millman (creative inspiration); Late Night with Seth Myers; Ted Talks on Arts & Culture; and 99% Invisible (things we don’t think about).
10. You can’t predict how your retired life will turn out. One year ago, it never entered my mind that we would leave our friends and beloved Bay Area. And yet, we just did! When our second grandson was born in San Diego, we decided we wanted to live closer to family and not be fly by grandparents. You can always meet up with your friends for social events and travel. But you can’t replace being an active part of your kids’ and their kids’ lives. So, we sold our house at the end of February and moved south to a new home on March 1. I’m writing this post from a room full of packing cartons…but we just got the internet connected!
Yes, retirement is full of surprises… and I’d love to hear about yours!