I’ve been working at this retirement thing for over two years now. Now to those who aren't close to retirement age, or for those who are at the mercy of a financial-collapse-ravaged 401k, this might seem to be an irrelevant “problem.”
I get that.
The fact remains that at some point, whether by choice or by circumstance, most of us will have to sort out what it means to be “retired.” For me, I left the corporate life – by choice – for a “semi-retirement” of capitalizing on my 40+ years experience in my field. Working project to project, brought on board by former business associates to do the “fun stuff.” (For which I am extremely grateful, but that's another blog.) In my case, Fun was designing and developing programs for web-based and tablet-based training. I anticipated a slower schedule, less pressure, more flexibility – and a fee structure that, while it would not change my life one way or another, certainly will pay most of the bills.
What has evolved from this expectation is a pressure-cooker of tight deadlines, opaque client demands, lost weekends and, well, let’s say “stress” in the homelife. Were I thirty years younger and had something to prove, bring it on. But I think I’ve reached the point at which no amount of money or even peer-accolades is worth missing my daughter’s first baby shower. Or losing a weekend with my Bride. Or disappointing my son by cancelling a visit to Indiana. I guess that my ability to set boundaries in my own workplace is not a lot better now than when I was an Organization Man.
You’d think that I’d have learned that lesson when I “retired.” Guess it’s one of those tutorials that I’m tasked to learn over and over again. For a training professional, I sure am a slow learner.
So I am now at a crossroads – maybe it’s more like a crash scene. With my Bride still working, I feel an obligation to bring in an income. Call it “Y” chromosome poisoning. At the same time, there are plenty of other things that I’d prefer to be doing. Like writing this blog. Like puttering around the house. Like riding my bicycle to Nashville. Like ziplining with my grandkids. Like traveling to Portugal. Like writing and selling a song I’ve written. All of these things are new territory, and not in my recognized/marketable/work-experience-defined “skill set.”
Still, it’s intoxicating, like an old fire horse, to answer the call to action. Old habits and reward systems are really difficult to set aside. Perhaps it’s Baby Boomer’s Lament, or too much emphasis on introspection, or maybe I just need to take six months off and do these other things.
All I know for sure is that retirement, like life, isn’t the finish line. It’s keeping your eye on the ball, seizing the day, relaxing when you can. And taking the time to understand where your life is the Most Important.