Tangent of 'mojo' thread-how do you avoid 'retiring?'

halfdecafApril 17, 2007

My question comes not because I'm of official retirement age, but because my heart goes out to some recent posters who have indicated that the empty-nest / retirement phase of life has left them feeling isolated and "blah." So, up front, I admit that I'm asking this question from a perspective with which I'm not yet acquainted, so forgive me if my question seems inappropriate in any way.

But still, I'll be there some day, and I'm wondering if others in this phase of life have found ways to avoid some of the "blahs" that seem to come with children leaving home and dealing with what society tells us is "retirement age?"

I've been recently inspired by a 75-year old woman I know who just returned from a week-long trip helping build homes for victims of Hurricane Katrina. She can't stop smiling when she talks about her experience. I tell myself that some day I want to be like her. But I also know that age can bring physical limitations as well, and this kind of thing may not be a fit for everyone.

So, I'd love to hear from any of you who are in the "retirment" or "empty nest" phase of life and have found ways to avoid the "blahs" that sometimes accompany it. Thanks in advance!

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I'm in 'pretirement'.

Too many folks spend 20-25 years getting ready/trained/skilled to work, then a whole bunch of years all out doggin it at a job that may be stressful, consuming, loathed, and/or exhausting. Then they finally retire and are bored or lonely.

So instead, I figure better would be 20-25 getting ready/trained years, then 20-30 allout peak years, THEN 20-30 years of fewer hours at something enjoyable that draws on experience and maturity. Maybe THEN, at 80, full retirement.

At 51, three years ago, I quit my position of 20+ years, and began to craft part time independent consulting work. The need was there, I knew all the players, and could give the needed service. It was terrifying, and slow at first. Helped to have DH's income and savings to rely on. But now it is nicely stable. I work independently on my terms. The work is challenging and stimulating enough. I see plenty of people. I control my hours so I'm not exhausted. And I can do this for decades if I choose and I stay healthy.

Most important, it also nudged me into the future and a life that does not revolve completely around work. That has been a real challenge. It isn't easy to realize that you have to cultivate and maintain relationships to make up for all that builtin work social stimulation. To have no more excuses, and to have to decide what you really WANT to be doing. Or to then make that happen. Not easy. But I'm grateful for the chance to face all that now.

A good read on this topic BTW is The Joy of Not Working.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 3:01PM
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I had 3 kids in my 40s.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 3:20PM
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LOL Seeking, I was going to answer the same way. I had our first child at 41...and we'll probably have another or adopt around 45....so much for a boring retirement years :)

We have been talking though about what I guess would be "retirement" (Selling our company and taking a few years "off"). My darling penciled it out today and we can live very very comfortably (one home here and our 57" boat) on the current value of the business. We'd be able to live on returns without touching principal. It's a tempting thing to do in your early 40's :) And for us, the chance of enjoying our son in his formative years is hard to pass up.

I think "retirement" is a silly word. Working less is more reasonable, as celtic mentioned, in consulting, etc., if you've got the skills. Keeps your mind going and allows the flexability to enjoy life as well.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 7:12PM
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Thank you for posting this topic. My husband and I will retire within 12 months and I am concerned about what the future will bring. Financially we'll be fine because my husband has been planning for this for a long time. But the kids are on their own (more or less) and our closest friends have moved quite a distance away to their new retirement homes.

As celticmoon so aptly put it my husband's life has "revolved completely around work." I used to joke that he worked so many hours that if he were to retire we would probably find out that we were incompatible. But after 30 years I think we've found our balance. Retirement will be a new experience for both of us however.

Luckily he can easily work part time and hopefully begin to rediscover those activities and hobbies that he enjoyed before the kids and mortgage arrived and his business demanded so much of his energy.

And when I log off GW I will order "The Joy of Not Working" for both of us to read. Thanks for the suggestion. And I'm sure I'll learn even more as others respond.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 7:31PM
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Mcmann, I do hope you find the book helpful. It is at first glance simplistic and a little too "clever", with some dumb cartoons, etc. But if you can get past that and actually work on some of the questions/exercises, it is very thought provoking and enlightening. Another tool to help find your own path.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2007 at 10:38PM
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I retired early after a strong career with many hours and travel. The only thing then, and sometimes now, that feels like a bit of a loss is when people ask me what I do. Meaning job wise, not having the "title". And now that I have been out of the circuit, so much has changed that my conversation is fairly limited in discussing anything once related to a career.

For anyone retiring I believe they should have a "passion" for something outside of their job and family. And it should be something far ahead of retirement. Can be tricky to include such when one's job, family, take a great deal of time. But I think in todays environment we forget to give some special time to ourselves. Before retirement while working is a good time to take the time and discover what really makes you who you are.

Celtic, the book you mentioned is probably a tool for what I'm sharing.

My passion was/is art, photography and the outdoors, they fill my days. My husband restored antique cars. Having different passions also kept us out of each other's hair whic can become an issue hanging around each other 7/24. But our separate fun stuff also meant loving being able to share days of doing things together. Which was usually on a whim, because the schedules were usually open.

And even though kids are grown, busy with work and their own passions....they continue to hang around and be part of what I have going on. I like being independant but great to know they are there and we actually have more time doing things together (on their schedule) than when I was working.

Knowing that health can change at anytime is always there, but this too can be less of an impact with a "passion" involved.

I remember a couple who were so intrigued with what my husband and I were into and told me how much they wished there had been something other than golf and their house to keep them busy after retirement. Both were great people and kept themselves active, but the days had become stagnant.

I do volunteer some, but definitely what is loved and the longer I'm retired the more found to do. Money doesn't have to fuel a passion either, am comfortable but watching the budget is part of all.....to keep the fun stuff going.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2007 at 7:37AM
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Don't retire if you don't want to. My dad is 78 years old and still works full-time for Boeing as an aerospace engineer. He retired for about a year, HATED it, pretty much poked around the house and grew tomatoes, and went to beach to watch the surfers (and girls), and then when Columbia crashed they asked him to come back. He was thrilled to come back to work.

My dad designed the main propulsion system on the shuttle (the three big engines that make it go up), works in the control room during launches, and was the leading engineer in fuel cell technology. He started his career with the Gemini missions, and has worked the Saturn and Apollo missions as well as some work on the ISS. He's too valuable to retire! And he LOVES it.

Did I also mention that he's had three bypass surgeries, has type two diabetes, and arthritis? Slowing down would be nothing but disastrous for him. He needs to keep working. No one should be forced to retire as long as they are still able to do their job and want to keep working.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2007 at 9:23PM
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One word: VOLUNTEERING!!! I can't wait until we are retired (if that will ever happen, since we've made the decision to live on one income, but that's another story) so that we can give all the time we want to help those around us in whatever way we can.

The world needs help and anyone who's made it to retirement has treasures (not financial, but experiential) to share. Heck, my mom even volunteered at a place she believed in fiercely after she was forced by advancing Parkinson's to retire from her medical career...she volunteered answering phones when she couldn't practice anymore. It wasn't beneath her. I admire that so much.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2007 at 2:03AM
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Agree with Flyleft. The need for volunteers is enormous and can make a huge difference in the lives of the people served. Schools, hospitals, libraries, immigrant services, shelters, museums, soup kitchens, churches -- the list is absolutely endless.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2007 at 7:01AM
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Neither DH nor I envision ourselves "retiring". His father worked part-time as an attorney until he died in his 80's. I like to work though I might like to and may need to do something less demanding as I get older. For now I'm riding the demanding job wave as long as it works out and saving as much as I can to ensure I have options to do something that pays less when this wave is up. I could see myself working part-time and taking the rest of the time to do all the things I never have time to do now. Gardening, volunteer work, getting together with friends, entertaining, reading, etc. There is just so much to do and not enough time to do it.

My nest has always been empty so I don't have to adjust to that. I have quite a few friends though who are struggling a bit with that adjustment - more those who have not worked outside the home and whose lives have revolved entirely around their kids.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2007 at 10:25PM
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