My most vivid memory of my father in retirement is him sitting on our front porch, talking to everyone who walked or drove by. Yes, they actually stopped and shouted from the car. It was a very small town and street.
The topic was usually politics or what Dad called “Senior Welfare” (i.e., Social Security). But that’s a story for another day.
He and all his cronies were thrilled to be out of the workday grind. They had their routines – walking, hanging at their breakfast spot, arguing about Reagan or Clinton… all the usual small-town stuff. And no one – that I am aware of – ever considered going back to work.
Fast-forward to today and, wow, have things changed. Many people are discovering that retirement does not agree with them and are starting golden year careers – and not just for the money.
Yes, many folks have to hold down a job in retirement for financial reasons, but just as many are going back because they hate retirement.
It’s been described as a beautiful prison. We have the money to make it work and the time to enjoy it, but it’s a trap for some…
One of the more frequent issues is that it has no purpose. After decades of having a reason to get up every morning and a purpose behind our efforts, many find they are just stumbling through the day. It leaves some feeling useless and empty.
Another problem is that our jobs and careers define us.
Ask anyone about themselves and they’ll tell you what they do for a living. For many, it is a big letdown to no longer be who we worked so long to become.
And, of course, there’s the “I used to be somebody” scenario. Our egos are tied to our jobs and our perception of our success. Hanging around the house, or even playing daily golf, does not make up for that loss.
Full-time retirement isn’t for everyone and – before you throw in the towel – most experts in the field suggest a trial run. If you have some vacation time banked, try out the retired life for a couple weeks. Don’t go away or take a vacation; try sitting at home and living your current idea of what retirement would be like.
For many, it takes only about a week to 10 days for that “now what?” feeling to set in.
Two to three decades of doing nothing – or worse, feeling empty – is a tough road. Make sure you know what the next 20 to 30 years will really feel like.