By Jill Chapin
October 1, 2010
I first noticed this when my colleagues began retiring around me. When they returned for a visit, I was struck by the bounce in their steps, the twinkle in their eyes and the glow on their faces. I honestly thought they had all gotten face lifts because the wrinkles and creases seemed to have disappeared.
What gives? We baby boomers remember all too well what retirement meant to our elders. It meant taking up knitting and updating wills. We saw a slightly bent, slower version of the vibrant people who used to inhabit those bodies.
And retirement didn’t last that long because life expectancy didn’t last as long as it does today.
Now that we can enjoy twenty, thirty or even forty years after saying goodbye to the office, there’s another whole life span to fill with anything we want.
Remember our free-spirited college days, when we almost dreaded graduation because it meant decades of being tied to a regimen that seemed almost suffocating. We couldn’t wait until retirement to resume that freedom to do whatever we want, whenever we want.
Ironically for some, it is bittersweet. Living longer does not translate into living better if you don’t know what to do with all that freedom. The waters of retirement can be calm, as in serene or boring, or turbulent, as in exciting or treacherous.
Let’s face it. With the equivalent of another entire lifetime after retirement, we need a navigator to point us in the right direction, just as we needed a recruiter to direct us toward the right career.
I found that navigator in the form of a book, Your Retirement Quest by Alan Spector and Keith Lawrence. To figure out what to do with twenty to forty years requires experts who can provide custom-tailered guidance before you take that big step – not after.
For instance, they say that we should ask ourselves three questions before deciding to retire: Do you have enough, will you have enough to do, and have you had enough? These are simple but provocative questions that really need to be answered before you accept that gold pen set at your retirement party. It’s likely that my happily retired colleagues had somehow already gleaned the uplifting essence of Spector’s and Lawrence’s advice.
This book is crammed with thoughts on how our values, our planning, our definition of freedom, our mind set, efforts, actions, resiliency and time all need to be thrown into the mix in planning and executing a vibrant, fun and meaningful retirement.
It even has worksheets after each chapter that you can tear out to keep notes and discuss with family and friends. Besides being wildly informative, it is a fun read, with plenty of real life examples and anecdotes to more fully open a window into some fascinating peoples’ lives post retirement.
But the most important message I got from their book in order to be happily retired is to have a general sense of gratitude about your life. In other words, wish for what you have.
Visit www.YourRetirementQuest.com. if you are interested in learning more about this book. You can also purchase it through this site from Amazon and Cincinnati Book Publishers.