Retirement-Not Just an End But a Beginning

Recently, I’ve been having discussions with a friend who is contemplating retirement, starting with reducing hours down to a part-time employee.  She thinks easing into full retirement will be easier for her.  Her fear is that she can’t fill her time with the hobbies she has enjoyed with limited leisure time, as a “more than full time employee”.  These conversations caused me to search out the retirement articles I had written in 2005, which The Gainesville Times published.

In one of these articles I had struggled with similar feelings, with one major difference.  I couldn’t work part time.  It was an all or nothing decision for me, but the process of evaluating what I would do with my time was the same as hers.  Here are a few paragraphs from that article.

“…each day during those last 12 weeks, I found myself second-guessing my decision.

Once you… (I)… walk away, you’re gone.  You can’t come back.  All that you’ve worked for, all that you’ve achieved suddenly is unimportant.

As the days flew by, I vacillated between euphoria about my decision and the biggest, darkest fear I’ve ever experienced.  I wouldn’t have an identity without the cloak of my job.  One minute I would think about freedom and all the fun things I would do.  The next, I realized that my relationship with so many employees would be dissolving in a matter of days.

But I had to remind myself each day that I was making the right decision for me.  It was time for me to leave this familiar work world, this rewarding job, these lovely people.  There were many other adventures out in the rest of the world waiting for me to experience.  I had my list of the lifelong dreams of what I wanted to accomplish before I die.

When retirement day arrived, I was at peace with myself, because I knew that I needed to keep moving forward.”

There are many reason folks retire. Dissatisfaction with a current job, but feeling too old to start a new job is a common dilemma for older workers.  Retirement appears to be the only way to change their situation.

One of the folks I interviewed for these Times articles gave me this advice to share.  “…look at retirement as a beginning rather than an end.”  He said, “Folks my age have always thought about retirement as an ‘end’,…The end of a career, end of work.  Kind of like death.  A terminal situation.  … folks should recognize that retirement is a time to use all you’ve learned and create your own new beginning.”