Retirement, as I’ve been reading, is a big change, a really big psychological change as well as a financial change. We’ve been prep’ing the financial side for forty-odd years and, for the past six months, putting on some final touches but the psychological side is another matter.
I found what I think is a good briefing on the issues in an article (click here). It lists six stages:
- Pre-retirement – Planning Time
- The Big Day – Smiles, Handshakes, Farewells
- Honeymoon Phase – I’m Free!
- Disenchantment – So this is it?
- Reorientation – Building a New Identity
- Routine – Moving On
At the moment, my wife and I are in phase one, the planning time, but phase two is only eight working days away. And even with the holidays that’s super close, the week after next. At work, my time is almost entirely focused on handing the work over to someone else rather than actually doing the work.
Once “The Big Day” passes, I’m looking forward to that Honeymoon Phase. About that phase, the linked article says, “This phase has no set time frame and will vary depending upon how much honeymoon activity the retiree has planned.”
I don’t have much planned for that phase. We’re dealing with some medical issues that will get all our attention for a while and then, after that, we will do some light travel and visiting of relatives, but we expect that time to be relatively short, a couple of months at most.
In my day to day living I’ve learned that with psychological processes, there aren’t any shortcuts. If you try to jump a phase you only end up backtracking later to do it anyway. And when that happens, you often end up taking longer to get through the process than if you’d just plodded your way through the phases in the usual order.
So, I’m expecting that the Disenchantment phase will come and, when it does, I will acknowledge it, recognize it for what it is — a sign of progress — and not get hung up feeling blue.
It will pass.
Then, we get to the fun part, “Building a New Identity”. To that end, I’ve been keeping a list of things I’ve always wanted to do but didn’t, back then, have the time. My hope has been that, in retirement, I’ll have the time and resources to do some of them.
Those resources include money, time, health, physical strength and stamina, and mental ability. Time will work both ways. It will both afford the opportunities but also indirectly degrade almost all the other resources. Over time, I should expect my physical and mental abilities to be compromised. Exercise, both physical and mental, will help slow that process but it would be unrealistic to expect the body of a twenty year old after sixty plus years.
My goals need to be realistic.
With that in mind, here’s my “Always Wanted To” list in no particular order:
- Achieve Master Class in target pistol shooting,
- Compose, arrange and perform music,
- Teach (in some way) in a public institution the expertise I’ve gained — teaching is my first love as far as “work” is concerned and I’m hopeful to keep that joy in my life,
- Fill in many blanks in our family genealogy and archive it to a place that will care for it over the coming generations — that’s probably not a commercial institution, by the way,
- Write, write and write — Non-fiction such as Wikipedia and this blog, and fiction — I’ve never done much with “characters” so I’d like to try and get some of them down on paper and see what happens to them when circumstances arise, and
- Make videos and/or films as befit my interests — telling a story with visual action and sound rather than the written word fascinates me with its possibilities.
When I think about my priorities in retirement, however, two other things come up:
- Management of our finances, and
- Management of our lives.
The first, managing our finances, will be addressed almost immediately. Whether we self-direct or use a financial planner, making sure our money lasts and is used wisely is an utterly essential concern. That task will be almost at the top of my daily “To Do” list starting January 1st when retirement officially begins.
And managing our lives encompasses everything around us including those finances, the home we live in, our relationships with kids, grandkids, neighbors, relatives and friends. To put it mildly, that’s going to be complicated and, over time, become more so. That’ll be #1 in the list every day.
That’s how I will start each day, with that list and those two items. Instead of asking what do I need to do for my employer today, I’ll be asking what do I need to do for us today.
And that I like.
I like that a lot.
Beyond the eight ball of the day of retirement is a whole new game.