From what I have gathered from a brief search on Ye Olde Interwebs, the idea of retirement is relatively new to human history. Our great-great grandparents knew of no such thing. You either worked till you died or had to stop working due to physical limitations. There was no monthly government cheque as a reward for life of working. You had either saved for this during your working life or you had to keep working so you could keep on eating.
I feel unbelievably fortunate to even have the luxury of
worrying about contemplating a retirement date and what to do/how to live after my full-time work life voluntarily ends. There are many today that don’t have that luxury even yet. I am grateful to have this sort of problem to work through.
When most people think about retirement the first and foremost thoughts revolve around finances, as in: Can we/I afford to retire “early” (then how early, or even at all)? Then the next question is: what will this look like for me/us?
I am starting out by assessing how I actually feel about retiring. In this A-Z Challenge, I’ve got 25 more letters to cover finances and what to do with time and what retirement could/should/will look like, and believe me, these things will get covered! Probably more than once and from more than one direction.
I’ve been observing others around me as they transition into retirement or begin contemplating it. By far the most astonishing thing to me is the depth of the fear, followed by the lack of planning exhibited by some of them. I have met several people now who are actually terrified by the thought of retiring. Whether they say it out loud or not, the fear is there and it is real. These people are defined mainly by their work, and are scared shitless of no longer having that role or title or purpose once work life is over.
Sometimes they don’t acknowledge the fear but instead bury themselves in work to avoid this fear or other issues in their lives that need addressing – issues that will undoubtably surface when work no longer consumes them. And because of the fear, they do nothing for retirement planning except maybe to ensure they have the funds in place to have a comfortable retirement while secretly (or not) dreading all those upcoming free days and hours to fill.
Is this any way to address what can be/is supposed to be a wonderful reward at the end of working life? I think not!
Which is why I think assessing one’s thoughts and feelings about retirement is just as important as crunching the numbers to see if/when retirement is feasible. Acknowledging these fears is the first, absolutely necessary step towards addressing them.
When I think of retiring, I admit I feel a bit of fear, currently. My fear is related to finances primarily at this point, and a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) too. I fear that when I retire (early or not), I will be setting myself up for a more…ahem…thrifty living situation than I would like. I have spent a large portion of my adult life feeling like the wolf was always close to the door and it is only recently that I feel comfortable, financially. I like being able to spend money as I see fit without too much stressing over the bank balance – it’s quite a new experience for me and I like it! I like now being able to say “Yes, I can” instead of my previous default: “Nope, can’t afford it”. And I don’t want to go back to the default in my post-work life, if I can help it.
Conversely, I also fear delaying retirement longer than I need to and then (ironically, having the extra $$ but…) not having the health or years left to enjoy it the way I dream of doing. I have seen people put off retirement only to fall ill and be forced into a sickly, limited version of what could have been a beautiful, fulfilling time of life. If they had known they only had so much time, would they have continued working as long as they did? I know if I had that crystal ball, it would make picking a retirement date very easy. But I don’t have a crystal ball so instead I have this niggling fear.
But are these fears justified? Can they be addressed so as to make decision making and planning easier? This is what I hope to find out as I explore Planning for a Badass Retirement in this blogging challenge. Thanks for reading and joining me on this journey!