When I did an internet search for “retirement advice” almost everything related to finances. While that is a very important part of planning for retiring, it is not all and I am certainly not the one to give guidance in that area. Having enough money for a comfortable living and a little to provide for satisfying hobbies/interests is essential to your physical and emotional well-being during your retirement years.
Many people are diligent in financial planning for retirement and are to be commended for it. I was not one of them. Fortunately my employer made significant contributions to my pension and encouraged me to participate fully in that effort. After a lot of years I finally invested more for my future.
I am goal oriented and recognize the wisdom in planning and preparation. But when it came to considering the end of my working career, I just never gave it much (any) thought. I never thought it would happen. I have worked all my life and I found fulfillment in what I was getting paid to do. Then somewhere in the 40th year of my professional career things changed.
My change in thinking began one day when a colleague of mine expressed concern when she said, “I don’t hear you whistling anymore.” I am a whistler but I am not aware of it until someone asks, “What was that song you were whistling?” My wife tells me it is my subconscious way of expressing my emotions. Maybe.
I thought about why I had stopped whistling, I wondered if it was a way that my deep inner self was trying to tell me I needed to make a change. I was not unhappy, burned out, or angry. But maybe it was time for a change. During the next several months I pondered and prayed about it and it became clear to me that it was time for me- not to quit- but to do something else. I made that decision and transitioned into a new phase of life.
When asked what I wanted to do after I retired my answer was consistently, “I don’t have a clue.” I just knew it was time. I have always believed that if you are doing what you should be doing today, you will be where you should be when God has something else for you to do. That is not a cop-out to justify poor or no planning. Rather it is a mindset that governs your life and work. I am convinced that everyone has a “calling” and fulfillment and contentment comes as one faithfully follows that path. It does not begin or end with retirement.
In making the decision to retire and think about this new era, I came across some suggestions that made sense to me. There are four questions in preparation for your new reality and they can equally apply to any stage of life:
- Where do you want to go?
- What do you want to give?
- What do you want to learn?
- What do you want to do?
Go, Give, Learn, Serve.
Go- There is a great big wonderful world to explore. Many beautiful places, near and far, to visit. Give- There are many places and situations where you can use your talent and experience to serve others. Learn- We are never too old to learn and there is much that will enrich our lives. Do- Individuals have different hobbies and interests that may not be fully explored or developed during the years of our “making a living.”
I have been in retired status for a little over three years now and it has been wonderful. There have been more than ample opportunities to consider. I am taking advantage of the ability to make more choices and am attempting to remain useful and productive without much of the stress that surrounded my life for 41 years.
I am grateful for the years of following God’s call upon my life and serving God’s people. I am glad those years are not over.