Showing posts with label Baby Boomer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Baby Boomer. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Key to a Happy Retirement: Yes, I Have Found the Key!

Yes, that's right.  I have found the key to a happy retirement, and I am going to share it with you.

You know how all of the books on retirement warn you that the most difficult thing about retirement won't be a financial one, but an emotional and mental one?  Where once your job was your identity and gave you a sense of purpose, in retirement it is now important to find another sense of purpose so you won't go out on the golf course and drop dead because you have no sense of self worth anymore?  All those years that you worked, you had a purpose.  Your job defined you to a certain extent so if you wanted to make the transition to a happy retirement, you needed to find purpose.

When I retired, that really scared me.

When I first retired, I felt guilty leaving a job I could have kept doing, but I was 65 and I wanted to leave on a high point.  As Barbara Walters said when she retired from "The View," she wanted to leave when people would say, "Why are you leaving?" rather than wait for them to say, "Why don't you leave?"  That's how I felt too.  I had done what I meant to do, felt good about my career and the people who had crossed my path over the years, but it was time to go.  But I worried about this purpose thing I had heard about.  I had worked since I was 14 and when I married and had children, I worked and then came home to be with my family.  I didn't really have hobbies other than happy hour and going out to eat once in awhile.

So what was I going to do with all of that free time I was going to have when I retired?  How was I going to find purpose in my life?

So like the good little librarian that I was, I started to do some research.

Here are some books I read:

"The Joy of Not Working: A Book for the Retired, the Unemployed and the Overworked" by Ernie Zelinski (2003)

He recommended creating a "Get-a-Life Tree," a sort of chart where you list all of the things that you ever wanted to do.  "Get-a-Life" Tree right away signaled that maybe I didn't have a life, which was kind of depressing.  Anyway, I think he was trying to get me to realize I had more interests than I thought, but by the time I listed winning an Oscar and losing 50 pounds, it depressed me even more because it all seemed like so much work. Wasn't I retiring so I didn't have to work anymore?

"How to Enjoy Your Retirement: Activities from A-Z" by Tricia Wagner and Barbara Day (2006)

I know they were trying to be helpful, but their list of activities I might enjoy, such as learning to use an abacus or getting a face lift didn't seem like that would give me a sense of purpose.

"Retire with a Mission: Planning and Purpose for the Second Half of Life" by Richard G. Wendel (2008)

I was really hopeful with this book, because the people on the cover looked so happy and young!  But when the author said, "A negative countenance and chronic complaining have always been and will always be the pathway to isolation," I could see that I was going to have to become a completely different person to find purpose and enjoy my retirement, and I didn't see how that was going to happen.  Not this late in the game, anyway.

"How to Retire without Retreating: Getting Your Ducks in a Row for a Meaningful Retirement" by Johnnie Godwin (2004)

"As your formal career winds down, be sure to plan for the ten, twenty, or more years of retirement that await you."  Too late.  I'm already retired.  Plus, she wanted me to go to church.

So though some of the ideas in those books were helpful, they didn't really spark me to make that many changes or to embark on a new way of life.  In fact, they just made me feel pressured to fill my days with meaningful activities which reminded me of having a job again.

And then I had an epiphany that changed everything.

Yes, my job gave me purpose.  As a librarian in a public library, I was able to help many people find information that helped them make sense of the world they lived in.  I taught computer classes to help people find jobs, and I arranged for citizenship and ESL classes to be held at the library to help newcomers to the United States.  All of that made me feel purposeful. 
But I also realized that when I was working, every day I had to do a lot of things I didn't want to do.

Even if you loved your job, think of all of the things you really didn't want to do.

Think about it.

Every day you were confronted with activities and responsibilities you probably didn't enjoy very much and didn't really want to do.

  • In my case, I not only had to show up at work, I had to show up on time, and you know I am not a morning person.
  • I was only allowed a certain number of days off and sometimes when I wanted time off, it was denied.
  • I had no maternity leave (I went back to work when my babies were only six weeks old), and if I had to leave to take care of a sick child, it could be a problem.
  • I was a manager so I often had to address employee issues that I really didn't want to address.
  • Library customers could be demanding and I had to listen to their complaints.
  • I had to attend meetings that could be boring.
  • I had to deal with traffic getting to and from work.
I could go on, but I think I've made my point, and I am sure you could make your own list of things you don't really like to do at work.

So as I have been wrestling with this whole issue of finding purpose in my retirement, here is what I have discovered.
Are you ready for it? 

Do you need to find new purpose to enjoy your retirement?


Screw purpose.

And that's the key to a happy retirement.

You don't have to find purpose, you don't have to do anything you don't want to do any more.  You are free of all of that.

The freedom of retirement is in and of itself your purpose: to be free of the constraints of a job and the realization that you don't have to do anything you don't want to do any more is purpose enough.

If you feel pressure to find a new purpose, that's like looking for a job.  And when you find your new purpose, that's like HAVING a new job, which could lead to a whole new set of things you don't really want to do.
Hell, your existence is purpose enough.
Now does that mean I sit around all day watching TV?  Sometimes, if that's what I want to do.  But, no, I don't.  I have gotten involved in a few things such as volunteering as a senior peer counselor, which I really enjoy because I still have that "I like to help people gene" in me.  I exercise regularly and write this blog, and I have tried some new things like meditation and playing with tarot cards.  But I don't have to keep doing any of those things.  I can stop doing them whenever I want to.  I don't have a boss telling me I have to do something.  I am now my own boss.

I have also tried some things that I didn't like, such as Zumba and bird watching (just kidding about the bird watching - inside joke).  The main problem with Zumba was that it was at 10am and I don't like to have to be anywhere that early if I don't have to be and since I am retired I don't have to be. 

The main point is I have tried some things, didn't like them so I stopped doing them, because I can.  I don't have to get myself into anything I can't get myself out of anymore... 

So if you are getting ready to retire or have retired and are at loose ends about what you should do with yourself, just remember this:

You don't need to spend your retirement looking for your purpose or make elaborate plans before you retire. YOU are your purpose.  Your existence is purpose enough. You are now free to do whatever you want and you are also free to NOT do anything you don't want to do any more.  You are free!

When you free yourself of the "shoulds" in your life, your mind is free to discover what you really enjoy, and if that's solving the problems of the world, fine.  But if it's sitting in a chair every day with a good book or watching "The View," that's also fine.

And for those of you out there whose identity is so tied to your job or career that you are worried about what you will say when someone asks you what you do (and this seems to be more of an issue for men), just say:

"I am enjoying my life and my freedom."

Now go out there and enjoy your life and your freedom.
I'm going to go watch "The View."

Thanks for reading!
See you Friday

for my review of

"The Fundamentals of Caring"
The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)
and the latest on
"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before  
 I Die Project."

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Retirement: One Year Later - A Retired Baby Boomer Reflects on What She's Learned So Far

As of today, it's been exactly one year since I closed my office door for the last time.

And it has been a roller coaster ride. 

I revisited some of my earliest blog posts to remind myself of what I was feeling then and get a sense of how far I have come since I retired.

"The Long Goodbye"


In this, my first posting for this blog, I had just given my notice at work and was wondering what retirement was going to be like.  I talked about taking a Zumba class, joining a book club, meditating, volunteering and just enjoying the freedom to do what I wanted.  I also worried about how I would find meaning and purpose without a day-to-day job to give me that.

"The Long Goodbye Pt. 2"

Wearing my fascinator from my English-themed retirement party.

With only four days to go until retirement, I wondered what I would do with all of my clothes, would I stop wearing make-up, gain a bunch of weight, stop traveling and once again I worried about how I would find purpose and meaning in retirement.

"Retirement: Day 1"

OK, the deed was done.  I woke up and didn't have to go to work.  I didn't have to do anything really.

And I didn't.

"Retirement: the First Week in Review and What I've Learned So Far"

Here is what I came up with one week after retirement:

During this first week, I have learned the following things:
1.  How long it takes a woman to finally give up on herself and let it all hang out
(not long)
2.  What I was glad I missed while working
(all the bad stuff)
3.  Meditation is not easy
(I think I had managed maybe two minutes at that point)
4.  The common plot thread that governs Lifetime movies
(You can tell what I was spending my time doing)
5.  I am very boring
(this worried me)

"Retirement: Do Dogs Ever Retire?"

I humorously pondered whether dogs ever retire and if so, do they grapple with the same issues as we humans when they retire - loss of identity, loss of structure, loss of purpose, depression, boredom, possible lack of personal interaction and knowing the difference between leisure and goofing off.

This is leisure.



This is goofing off.

Going back and reading those early posts, I see that there was a lot of angst; a lot of insecurity; and a lot of doubts and worries about money, purpose and meaning. 

And some of those worries were well founded.  I mean, c'mon, only a couple of months after I retired we had to replace our roof! 

But I have to say, I am starting to get this whole retirement thing...AND I LIKE IT!

We had a little family thing where I would say to the kids when we were out and about in traffic on a week day in the middle of the day, "Who are these people out in their cars?  Don't they have jobs?"  Well, now I am one of THOSE people.  I like being able to go to a movie in the middle of the day in the middle of the week.  I like watching "The View" in the morning and lingering over a cup of tea.  I like going to the mall when no one is there. I like Happy Hour with Hubby at 4pm when everyone else is still working.

Something I heard over and over when I first retired was, "I bet you are busier now than you have ever been."  At that time, I wanted to say, "Uh, no.  In fact, I don't have anything particular to do."  But you know what?  I even get that now. 

I really am busier than I used to be when I worked.  And do you want to know why?

It's because now that I am retired, I have the luxury of saying "yes," rather than saying, "no."

When you are a working mother, as I was all of my life - the longest I was ever off work was two months and that was for the birth of each of my children - and you love your husband and family, you go to work and you go home.  Yes, you have commitments, but they are usually related to your children's activities.  I didn't belong to a bowling league, I didn't join any clubs and rarely had girl's nights out.  I wanted to be with my family so I probably said "no" a lot.

Now that it's just Hubby and me and no work obligations, I can say "Yes!"  And because I am saying "yes," I am really busy.  Or as busy as I want to be.

Also, I write in this blog about movies, DVDs, fashion, books, music, and food, which means I need to go to movies, watch DVDs, read books, eat at restaurants, go to concerts and shop!
That's a job right there!

So with all of that said, what did I learn about making a successful transition into retirement?

  • I learned that it's fine to make plans, but they don't need to be written in stone. 

For example, a year ago I had all of these plans about what I would do.

Did I take Zumba?  Yes, but I discovered getting to a class at 10am was just too stressful. I know, but remember, I already told you I wasn't a morning person. I also learned I am a lousy dancer.

Did I join a book club?  Yes, but discovered it was too far away from home, and I didn't like an evening group (I am looking into a morning group closer to home), but basically I have learned that I am not really a joiner.

Did I meditate?  Yes.  I am still doing it and learning to be alone with myself.

Did I volunteer?  Yes. 
I am volunteering for the first time in my life.  I am on the County Council on Aging and the Advisory Board at my local public library.  I am also on a wait list to be a Senior Peer Counselor to help depressed and lonely seniors.

The Council on Aging is important to me because my mother could not "age in place."  She ended up in a horrible nursing home, indigent and alone.  Here where I live now, there are all kinds of services in place to help people age with dignity and stay in their homes.  I am proud to be a part of that.

Likewise, if you read my blog, you know how passionate I am about public libraries.  Hell, I worked in them for 40 years.  So I am happy to still be involved as an advocate on the library board of my local library.

As for the Senior Peer Counselor to help depressed and lonely seniors?  It takes one to know one, I guess.

So make plans, but ultimately, retirement is more about exploring.  I now have the time to explore new ideas, new activities and most of all myself.

I have the time to try things out and if I don't like them, I don't have to do them.  I can move on to something else.

  • I learned that it's OK to worry about what might happen when you retire,  but most of those things I worried about didn't happen.
What to do with all of my clothes? 
I have discovered consignment shops!

Would I stop wearing make-up and gain a bunch of weight? 
I do still care how I look. I wear makeup when I am going out, but I do pretty much look like hell when I'm hanging around the house.  Sorry, Hubby. But I looked like hell when I hung around the house before I retired.  And the weight thing, no gain, but the usual battle I had before.  Nothing has changed there.

Would we have to curtail our travels? 
Not really.  We had a lovely road trip to the Okanagan wine country in British Columbia for our 30th wedding anniversary.  And I was able to attend my little grandson's 3rd birthday party in California, something I probably would not have been able to do if I was still working.

He's the little one in yellow with the happiest smile I have ever seen.

Would we have enough money?  Thanks to my pension, it seems to be enough.  Of course Hubby is still working, so when and if he retires, that will certainly change things.  But I have discovered that we don't need as much money as we once did.  We still go out to eat, we go to concerts and the theatre, but we don't seem to spend as much in other areas.  Now it's not so much about acquiring things as getting rid of them.

  • And what about those potholes that are supposed to trip us up when we retire? - loss of identity, loss of structure, loss of purpose, depression, boredom, possible lack of personal interaction and knowing the difference between leisure and goofing off?

  • Loss of identity? I am still blogging which has enabled me to express myself and that strengthens my sense of identity.  After all, I am Rosy the Reviewer!

  • Loss of structure?  I am a structure sort of person so create my own structure no matter what my situation.  I have certain things I do every day and certain things I do on certain days.  For example, I get up when I feel like it, read some magazines if I feel like it, watch "The View" if I feel like it, go to the gym if I feel like it and Wednesday is my day off.  That's all the structure I need.

  • Boredom? Depression?  Can happen, but that can happen when you are working too. 

  • Personal interaction?  With my volunteer work, I am meeting more people than before and probably have more personal interaction that I actually want!

  • Knowing the difference between leisure and goofing off? 
       Haven't figured that one out yet.

Have I found purpose and meaning?

I have learned that finding purpose and meaning is not a retirement issue.  It's something we are all working on every day for our entire lives. It's our ultimate job.

As I said in that early blog post about dogs retiring:

"We may be retired from our jobs, but we are not retired from life. Our most fulfilling purpose in life is giving and receiving love and bringing joy to those around us. "

And that means loving yourself and making yourself happy too.

I still believe that and that's my day-to-day job now.

I will be working on that for the rest of my life.

Thanks for reading!
See you Friday for
 "The Sturm und Drung of Writing a Blog:
Tapping into the Creative Process
 and The Week in Reviews"

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If I reviewed a movie, you can now find my reviews there too.
Find the page for the movie, click on "Explore More" on the right side panel and then scroll down to "External Reviews."  Click on that and you will find me alphabetically under "Rosy the Reviewer."