What Can.I.Use To Replace The Back Of An Old Rocking.Chair Retirement – Not Working Might Be Harder Than You Expect

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Retirement – Not Working Might Be Harder Than You Expect

A few days ago, I saw in someone else’s eyes what used to haunt me every time I looked in the mirror – the quiet hell of being retired but wanting to work. The void that develops for people who need work for their own well-being, but who have retired for whatever reason, can be difficult to explain and painful to endure.

Not having to go to work is soothing for only so long. Then we need more to be happy for getting up in the morning. If you admit that, especially to someone in career mode, they grumble. Or suggest antidepressants.

Don’t be fooled. What you are feeling is not a brain chemistry problem. It is a very reasonable reaction. Living life without purpose is very hard to do. But there remains the cultural expectation of how we’re SUPPOSED to live retirement.

Those who have been pushed into retirement or jumped on a spontaneous basis might feel it more quickly. But even the people who have carefully planned their retirement as a time off for a decade or more often end up saying after a few years “There has to be more than this”. On average, it happens about a year after you stop working.

Leisure should be a part if your life, but you’re not crazy if you can’t make it enough on its own. However, there is no easy path to that “more”—no established procedure for claiming it. Each of us makes our way through this confusing jungle solo and hit. So let me at least share what I learned.

First, a few things you do NOT want to do:

DON’T JUMP RIGHT BACK INTO A REGULAR TASK JUST TO FILL THE VACUUM. Retirement offers the benefit of maximum flexibility. Make sure you really WANT to let that go before you start highlighting full-time help wanted ads. There are many ways to work and “every day every day five days a week” is just one of them.

DON’T ASSUME THAT YOU HAVE TO GO BACK TO WHAT YOU DID. Even if you were the ace at the office, there might be something you’re even better at – and will enjoy more – if you take the time to figure out what it is.

DON’T JUST CONTINUE TO DO ANYTHING. You already know that doesn’t work, no matter how many people tell you how lucky you can do it. People do die for not having enough to challenge them. Don’t just bring it up if it doesn’t work for you.

DO NOT FALL ON YOURSELF. You are not a failure because you “failed to retire”. Many people do.

so what are you doing In a few words? Do the work to establish what you really WANT to do and then figure out how to do it in a way that keeps your life balanced. More specifically:

Discover YOUR PASSION. What is worth doing at this stage of your life? What excites you? Listen to your heart. Is there something you want to improve in the world, your community or your neighborhood? The only reliable foundation on which to build your retirement is what you truly value deeply. Eventually, almost everything else is likely to change.

LIST WHAT YOU ARE GOOD AT. By the time we retire, we have amassed an incredible breadth and depth of skills and knowledge. Just writing it all down will make you feel good about yourself. But knowing everything you can do is also key to igniting a fresh flame. Be sure to also include the things you’ve learned in non-business pursuits, whether it’s leading a Brownie troop or officiating high school lacrosse.

DEFINE YOUR GOAL. When you combine what you are good at with what you believe in, amazing things happen. You don’t have to save the world. You don’t even have to save the day. You do have to save yourself. Discover what makes you jazz and learn all you can about it.

FORM YOUR WORK CONSCIOUSLY. There is project work, piece work, seasonal work or contract work. Creative work (which you may never make money from). Volunteer work. You can work noon to 4:30 on alternate Tuesdays or only the month of February. Once YOU know when and how you want to work, you are much more likely to find, create or negotiate it.

GIVE IT TIME. A strange thing happens when you retire. All your time is yours, yet you tell yourself you don’t have enough. You can’t learn that new thing or build a reputation in that new skill because, you … well … might die. Think about it. That has been true since the day you were born.

There are many people still going strong at 90. Be one of them. When it’s time to take that last breath, take it full of satisfaction in what you’ve been so busy doing. THAT is how we should all retire.

Copyright (c) 2009 Mary Lloyd

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