It may seem retired people do only what they want–nap, watch TV, sleep late, go shopping, travel. An acquaintance of mine has been retired for several months. I know, through other sources, that she has been struggling with retirement ever since. She may have envisioned her retirement days as one long weekend that never ends; in fact, she told me that retirement seems like Saturday every day–it is hard to keep track of the days of the week sometimes. However, I feel confident that will change for her over time. It certainly has for me.
Five years before I actually retired from my teaching job, I chose to work half-time for half-pay. This was not the best financial decision for me, but it was necessary for my mental health. My father had passed away the previous year after suffering through several years of dementia. The whole experience of dealing with his illness, as well as the loss of him, wiped out my coping abilities. I had also endured several other upheavals and changes in my life and career during those years before he died. I wanted to just pack it in, but I did not have the required equation (age plus years invested), or the savings, to just quit working. However, the thought of spending another five years in the classroom caused panic attacks. I simply had to make a change in my life. After negotiating with my principal and the school board, I was designated a half-time teacher of the gifted and talented at the elementary school where I was already employed.
I’m not going to describe the ups and downs of having a special assignment in a school like the one from which I retired. That is the subject for another blog entry. Personal relationships with the other teachers changed dramatically, and I unwisely used much of my time at home working on lessons. A teacher’s work is never done, especially in her own mind.! On the plus side, with more time to take care of myself, my health did improve, as did my state of mind. The negatives included the aforementioned issues, as well as guilt about not working enough.
From my experience, as well as that of my husband and some relatives who have retired, I can say that retirement requires planning. Over time we discovered the need for hobbies and avocations–some kind of routine and work. Depression can set in if a formerly busy and employed person has no direction.
You may have goals and hobbies that you always wanted to pursue if you only had the time. Those might work out or not, so it is important to look beyond them. I always wanted to write a novel, but discovered that fiction writing was not for me. I wrote poetry and enjoyed that for awhile. Ultimately I ended up writing a family memoir and I’m now working on a family history. These turned out to be more to my liking and an outgrowth of my interests. Blogging for the everyday person evolved since my retirement, which has also fed my desire to write.
My husband retired involuntarily after the financial crash in 2008. He was an architect who loved what he did, and hoped to do it forever. The recent turn down in home building wiped out his prospects, so he had to do a lot of exploring, experimenting and reflecting before settling into a satisfying routine of writing a murder mystery and accomplishing household design and building and around the house. We had hoped to travel a lot, but that has been curtailed by reduced finances. Readjusting, reevaluating and revamping have all become part of our daily discussions. We have helped each other reflect on what a
change in lifestyle means for us–our bucket lists, so to speak.
Yesterday and today I have been reworking my goals–what don’t I need to do after all? What is most important to me? What is my legacy for my children and grandchildren? All of these are further thoughts for future blogs…