You’ve worked and worked all your adult life, hopefully achieving some hopes and dreams along the way. Conversations with friends that once involved your skyrocketing career have now turned into chats about selling your themed collections and sharing your latest aches and pains. Yet, you are still fairly healthy and your sense of humor has delved into strange and wonderful topics. Behaviors you may have judged harshly now turn into intrigue. When people come by asking for yet another favor you never really enjoyed doing in the past, it becomes strangely easy to now say, “No!”
Congratulations! You’ve entered the no-turning-back stage of life. If you’re in the midst of friends’ daily retirement announcements, you may be asking yourself, “Should I retire early, too?” Few people are waiting for the golden egg anymore, opting for golden playful years instead. At every turn, baby boomers are taking early retirement, hitting the golf course, and traveling the world!
Whether retirement happens early or right on time, not everyone who leaves the workforce finds it much of a party after all. The phrase “I’m bored to death” could come to fruition if you don’t replace that 40-hour workweek with some kind of meaningful activity, best done with someone you adore. Recent studies from Oregon State University report that unless early retirees enjoy hobbies, family, friends, or even a fun part-time job, their health declines, depression creeps in, and yes, death comes sooner than those happily engaged in something purposeful.
If you’ve always played with the notion that you could run your own business or paint landscapes, but you’ve never taken the plunge – now is the time. (Remember, Colonel Sanders was 65 when he developed Kentucky Fried Chicken!) If all that just sounds like it requires too much energy, be open to something new and unexpected: what’s wrong with enjoying midnight passions or discovering you love nude sun bathing?
One career coach observed that the happiest retirees first treated their newfound freedom like a vacation. After relaxing and rejuvenating, they emerged with a renewed sense of purpose and focus, eschewing who they once were and embracing the possibility of who they might become.
What a great perspective! How many retirees imagine “Who I might become” in their final phase of life? With our hip and healthy generation, there could be as many as 25-30 more years to live after retirement – what an excellent opportunity to embrace a new you! If you’re lucky, the kids are grown and on their own, the house is paid off, and grandkids come by just often enough to allow you to throw caution to the wind and act like a child again.
I’m proud that my unassuming grandsons place me in that crazy dance party scene in the animated film Madagascar, where the crazies wiggle around to wild music wearing who-knows-what on their heads. “That’s like Grammy!” my grandsons declared one day. That’s when I knew I’d dance forever – even if I’m dancing from a rocker!
Consider the dictionary’s definition of work: “Activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose,” followed by the definition of retirement: “The action or fact of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work.” If ceasing to work means being without purpose, I’m definitely not ready for that! I, for one, still relish and need to “Achieve a purpose” – don’t you?
Abella Carroll is a freelance writer