A Moment in My Life – Monday, May 17, 2021
A friend of mine is turning 70 in a few months, and he’s finally considering retiring. I’m amazed at how many people I know are way into retirement years but still happily working. I know many people who couldn’t wait to retire and counted the days until they could take early retirement. Interestingly, there is a variety of people out there. As for this friend, Bill, he’s feeling the effects of aging, and that spurs him to finally retire and enjoy what’s left of his young years before it’s too late. That’s something we all need to deal with at some point.
Bill riddled me with questions earnestly, having no clue what he’d do in retirement. He’s worked in the maintenance department of a school since he turned eighteen. He didn’t say so, but I inferred he equated his life’s purpose to his job and family from all that he shared with me. His wife passed years earlier, and his kids have families of their own. His job was the only thing left. Outside of his work, he has no life. He had weekly social groups, which dwindled as members relocated. He’s the creature-of-habit type. I can imagine all the insecurities and fears going on inside his mind. I faced them myself when I took early retirement. Yeah, I’m one of the latter.
The only thing that I could offer him was my personal experience and suggestions to give him ideas on his retirement. Retirement is subjective, and in my humble opinion, I don’t think anybody can plan it for you. Everyone has to figure it out for themselves. Sure, there are professional planners, but ultimately, they can provide ideas, but you make the final decision. It has to be a lifestyle that sparks joy and one you can live with for the rest of your life.
Bill has little interest in extracurricular activities adding to the difficulty of his options. So, I rattled on with whatever came to mind starting with the fact that I don’t sit idle—some people like doing nothing and relish shooting the breeze all day. I’m a multi-tasker who can’t do nothing for long. I remember sunbathing with my sister one afternoon. We lay on lawn chairs on the roof of my apartment building in the city. Every 2 minutes, I asked her what time it was. After ten minutes, I couldn’t lie idle any longer. For me, suntanning meant whacking a tennis ball. With that said, as soon as I retired, I began living my childhood dream of being a writer, which means I canceled my retirement.
For Bill, I suggested that he who excels in carpentry use it for some good. If he doesn’t need money, he could volunteer his time with whatever skills and talents he can offer. Or make creative mailboxes and sell them and give the proceeds to charity or donate the mailboxes to charity to sell. Perhaps he could make that a new career, or he might want to try a second career doing something he always dreamed of doing if he could. It’s never too late to go back to school and get a degree towards your dream.
He might take on new hobbies where he could meet new friends. I feel sad for Bill. He counted on a small handful of people to hang out with regularly. Never expect them to move away for retirement. Some of them relocated to 55 and older communities, while others moved closer to their kids and grandkids.
Another idea I suggested was travel or some sporty thing like golfing, tennis, fishing, or a combination of outdoorsy activities. Bill could join his local recreation center or a church where there are activities galore and seasonal events that could keep him busy all year round.
It’s funny to me that Bill, who is a strong introvert, could spend all day sitting with someone and listen to them talk the hours away. Knowing this about him, I suggested that he befriend as many people as he could from different walks of life, which would guarantee that he’ll always have friends to socialize with. Everybody has his or her agenda. One person could rarely entertain you all day and every day. Of all of my suggestions, this suggestion lit up his face—poor guy. I feel for him. He doesn’t want to be alone. I get it. Who does?
Bill is a sweet man. Hopefully, I provided him with some helpful fruit for thought when he takes that leap to the next phase of his life. I’m excited for him. My only wish is for him to find what makes him happy. My suggestions were simplistic and doable. Hopefully, that was enough to answer his question, “What do you do in retirement?”