This is the third time I’ve retired so I am getting better at it. In all these experiences, I have discovered a key that has been helpful and some things that haven’t helped at all. But before I get into that let me tell you my retirement story.
One thing I discovered early in my first retirement was that after the usually holiday feeling had worn off, I was lonely and basically lost. My whole life as far back as I can remember, had been organised by someone else and aside from a few hours as a child where I was free to wander around the farm behind our house, there were expectations for me to meet. In school the teachers expected me to study and be on time for lessons. Then when I started work, for my whole working life, my bosses continued to expect me to do stuff when they needed something done. I had people to meet. I was involved in helping people in trouble. I visited the lonely and in the second half of my working life, I spent time teaching people how to get the most out of their life. Of course my wife who I married along the way also had expectations and after a period of “training” I fitted into the pattern – no clothes on the bathroom floor, washing day was Monday, child care was important etc etc.
Becoming a Nothing.
Then I retired from my work as a teacher and motivational speaker and the world of expectations ended. I was suddenly alone trying to work out what to do by myself. No one told me what to do. There were no time expectations to meet. No one was interested in my advice any more. My wife had heard enough of that over the years and didn’t need help in organising her week at all! The only expectations were the ones I made up. Watching daytime television just sucked what reminded of my life out of me.
I tried getting fit but that lasted less than a year. I tried organising things to do but most of those things did not have much meaning in the scheme of things and so my enthusiasm for doing them was not very high. My social network had also collapsed because most of my social contact was previously organised around my working life. I discovered that many of the people who I thought were close friends were not so interested in being involved in my world and were certainly not as close as I thought they were.
Part Time Work Options.
So I was thankful when I was asked to return to work at a different location but a place where I could find meaning and purpose again. I got involved in people’s lives again. I helped many and pointed them in the right direction. I think I did well but as time went by things got more and more difficult as I slowed down. The responsibility on my shoulders eventually became too much and I retired again.
This time I was more prepared. I joined the gym again and this time kept it up for a couple of years. In those years there were a number of other blokes at the gym in the seniors group who were involved in a mens shed starting in the next suburb so joined the other blokes doing wood work. Though in those days it was mostly about organising equipment and tools, getting grants to buy stuff, building a mezzanine floor and a quiet space and getting involved in cooking sausages outside the local Bunnings. I also discovered online courses and began to study the things I had been interested in for years. I did courses on the archaeology of the bible lands, on computer programming and anything else that took my fancy.
Loneliness is a Big Issue.
That was a better retirement but there were still some lonely times when there wasn’t too much to do. But then because I couldn’t help myself, I got involved in a work situation that led me to spending two more years working. Thankfully this time I had an assistant so the work and responsibility was shared. The main task was to find another CEO and to set up the organisation to help him fit in – especially if he was a young man willing to step up to his first CEO role. Thankfully that task is now complete and things are up and running and I am retired again.
Now I finally have the opportunity to set my life up and handle retirement in the best way possible. What I have discovered this time, is I now have the opportunity to do things I’ve dreamed about for years. In my working life around 1974, I was working on the introduction of colour Television into Australia. During that time we used a colour test on the blokes who worked on putting films to air because they had to continually correct the film colours – mostly because the films are made for a big screen in a dark room and a TV set is usually viewed in ambient light.
What I Dreamed About for Years.
So years ago I decided I would write a computer program that tested how well people saw colours. Ive tried a couple of times over the years to write the program with little success because although I knew about writing programs for computers they were business programs – how to allocate costs or how to work out equipment booking systems. So every time I sat down to write some program, I struggled with how to get the different colours with the precision I needed to display correctly. Then when I retired the first time, I discovered Apple’s Xcode software development system. It is very versatile, aimed at producing great looking screens (of various sizes) and allows for idiots writing software. That suited me but unfortunately writing software is like learning a new spoken language. They use words that have similar meanings but each word has a specific meaning.
This time I retied I found a Samford University online course which covers Xcode and explains each step in the process. I can now see the way forward to producing the software I’ve dreamed about for years. I haven’t made it work yet but the course has taken me about 6 weeks to complete so I reckon that with another 6 months of development, I may have the software I’ve been thinking about. Did I mention that writing software takes a long time!
Of course, you probably haven’t been dreaming about writing a software program but I’m sure you have some things you would like to do before you die. So, why not search today for a course to help you. There are many free online courses on almost every subject in the world so search for the subject and add the words course and free. You can also look on www.edx.org or moocs.org to see if you can find what you need. You may find the course will take a year to complete but in retirement you have time to do those things.
Just DO IT.
You may not need to do a course because maybe you have dreamed about building a boat or doing up a car or trying some new recipes or growing some pumpkins/ onions/ tomatoes/ pawpaws or anything really. The point of this is to encourage you to sit down and ask yourself what do I love to do and find a way to make it happen because no one is going to tell you what to do anymore and now you have the chance to do something simply for the satisfaction of doing it. If you do that you will find you will love retirement and maybe fulfil that dream.