Personal reflections on retirement and lessons learned
I retired more than four years ago. I was well-prepared (having completed the first draft of my book, Retirement Ready? helped).
But there were still surprises and issues to address.
The first few months
The timing of my retirement worked well. I was ready for the change. There are no regrets. This was the right decision at the right time.
I’d set myself a routine when I retired. We even waited for a couple of months after retirement before going on a three-week caravanning trip to Tasmania. That allowed me to work out my weekly routine.
A big negative was bone-weary tiredness for months after retiring. The pressure was off and it seemed my body was saying: ‘Good, you can rest now’.
A nap in the afternoon helped—it still does, at times.
For quite some time, I felt as if I’d lost my identity. My job had been varied but demanding (think 60 hours a week). It was unsettling to not be sure of who I was.
On the marriage front, Margie and I spent more time doing things together. This was good for our relationship. We enjoyed each other’s company.
Financially, things worked out as expected. There were no surprises and what we’d set up worked for us—thanks to advice from an excellent financial planner.
Four years later
Routine is still part of my life. Four days a week are set aside when I spend several hours working on projects—mainly writing. Two days a week are kept so Margie and I can do things together.
For the other day, we’re church-going people and are actively involved there.
Having written (and continuing to write) about retirement has brought some new challenges. I conduct occasional workshops about retirement. There’s been academic research about church pastors and their retirement. And there was a major project working on scripts, filming and on-camera interviews for a series about retirement preparation.
Life has been varied and interesting.
We’ve been able to travel—loved the UK. Now we want to see more of Australia.
There are times when I get too busy. That’s a downside. I’m not always good at estimating how long a project with a deadline is going to take.
I’m learning. Last week I was asked to edit a book manuscript to help prepare it for publication (I was a magazine editor for 15 years). My first question: ‘When do you want it back’?
‘No rush’. I can handle that without stress.
Do I have income out of these projects? Mostly not. Costs are often covered for things like travel and accommodation. At workshops, I might sell a few books. The filming—which was an on-and-off project over a period of almost 12 months—had an honorarium payment. It was nowhere near a wage, but it allowed me to upgrade my MacBook Pro.
Then there were two short-term jobs over the past 12 months that came with payment.
The bottom line is that in retirement, I haven’t come anywhere near having to trouble the taxman with a return.
Finally, despite spending a lot of time together, Margie and I still like each other—a lot (I would have written ‘love’, but that might have merely sounded soppy).
We really are enjoying growing old together.
Finally, we’ve learned that if something isn’t working we can change or be flexible. That comes with retirement.
I write of my experience for three reasons:
1. I learned a lot about retirement by listening and talking to others. Hopefully, reading my story will help you think about your story. Every retiree needs to create their own story.
2. In creating my story, you’ll notice I’ve taken advantage of the interests and skills I had before retirement. That will probably also be part of your story.
3. But it’s also our (Margie and my) story. If you have a partner, you can also work on making your relationship a beautiful part of your story.
Keep in mind that a good retirement usually begins with solid planning.