Puzzling Together the Pieces

With only eight short weeks remaining before I leave the 8-5 work world and begin my next chapter, I am experiencing an array of emotions. Excitement and enthusiasm, yes, of course, but also… not quite fear… more like apprehension and just a little unease.

Barring a huge economic downturn (which we now know can happen), I feel in good shape financially. Health insurance—at least for now—is available and budgeted for. Because I have a pre-existing condition due to an illness many years ago, without the Affordable Care Act I’d be concerned about the possibility of not finding coverage.

My unease stems mostly from two questions that I can’t answer yet:

What if this is the wrong decision?
Although I could probably find another job if I discover that I absolutely hate not working full time (something I doubt very much), it would be hard to match what I do now – both in salary and in satisfaction. Because my intention to exit work has gone from concept to commitment, I am feeling the finality of my decision.

A part-time job could provide some structure without a major time commitment, but then I would lose the freedom to pick up and go anytime my husband and I wanted to. Consulting? Maybe, but I’d have to spend time marketing my services, which doesn’t sound like much fun.

How will I replace the social network that I’ve developed at work?
Knowing that this was one aspect of retirement that my husband had a hard time with, I’ve become acutely aware of the large and small interactions that occur throughout the work day. Even simple greetings and casual conversations add to my enjoyment and I know that I will miss the easy comradery of being a member of a well-functioning team.

Over the years, I have developed varying levels of friendships with co-workers. Some of them I see outside of work, and I hope that will continue, but most are those types of friendships that are based on our shared circumstance. I imagine that most of these relationships will fade away soon after we are no longer working together. Our intentions might be sincere, but it will really take an effort—most likely mostly on my part—to stay in touch. Because they will still have the constraints of a full-time job, it will be up to me to arrange get-togethers that fit around their schedules.

Bucket

I know that the most effective way to mitigate my concerns is to start putting in place several items on my “bucket list” of activities I want to enjoy in retirement; the ones that I find difficult to do now because of time constraints. A few that come to mind are:

Find—or start—a book club
I have “test-driven” several established book clubs over the years, but have yet to find one with the right combination of serious and social. Great books and stimulating conversation, enjoyed in a social atmosphere that includes shared food and wine… that is what I’ll be looking for.

Identify exercise buddies
Soon I will be able to go to the gym, power walk, ride my bike, take yoga, etc. anytime I want so I need to find others who are on a similar non-schedule. There are lots of things I like to do alone, but friends can make exercise more enjoyable and help maintain the motivation.

Sign up for some classes
After years of reading longingly about classes, workshops, lectures, etc. that I couldn’t participate in because of my work schedule, I can now attend! Although I expect that my desire to learn new things will be ongoing, I want to identify a few possibilities right away so that I am inspired to get up, get dressed, and get going.

Volunteer to usher for a local theater
There are a lot of worthwhile causes and organizations that need volunteers, and I hope to identify several to give my time to. By ushering for a theater company, I not only provide a valuable service, but I will see performances I might otherwise miss. Because these opportunities are seasonal, and most likely have waiting lists and specific training schedules, I want to be sure I don’t miss a deadline.

Old Globe

Between several of these activities, all the projects that need to be done around the house, and a couple of trips we have planned this year, I should be quite busy. I hope that soon whether I made the right decision and how I will create a new social network will no longer be in question.

15 thoughts on “Puzzling Together the Pieces”

  1. Two years ago, I was where you are now. It’s an adjustment – with arguably much more good than not, but lining up some activities and exploring alternatives ahead of time is so wise. I didn’t do that, and retrospectively, it made the transition far more complicated than it needed to be. One thought – make sure you take some time just to enjoy the mornings when you aren’t held to a schedule. I still love the time I have in the early part of the day, for the second cup of coffee, the chance to take in details of the day that I had never really been able to notice before. Congratulations!!

    1. Thank you for your comment and suggestion. I think it might be my fear of enjoying my mornings too much that they begin to morph into my afternoons, that prompts me to set up a few activities in advance. I love learning from those who have gone before so please keep weighing in!

  2. Very smart to think about how you are going to replace those casual work interactions. I joined the local Y and was amazed at how it has served to fill that function. You see the same people in classes–yoga, Zumba, wateer aerobics, and you develop new friendships. Plus you get all of the benefits that exercise offers.
    Another discovery is Meetup.com, an on line way to find people that share your interests. I belong to three Meetup Groups: a book club, a bike club and a ‘women over 50’ brunch club. There are many more to choose from.
    Once I realized that it is up to me to create as little or as much structure as I wanted, I found the transition very easy. I’ve just started my third year in retirement and am thrilled with all the new friends I have made and the expenses I have had.
    How lucky are we to be financially comfortable, healthy, with husbands and friends and time to enjoy ALL of those amazing blessings!

    1. How funny, I was on the Meetup site when your comment came in! I see several book clubs to choose from and may check one out on Thursday (they just happen to be discussing the book I’m reading!). I will look at other groups too. Your comment helps quiet my feelings of unease and encourages me to fully embrace the excitement. Thank you!

  3. Remember that it took time to develop your work place relationship connections, and it will likewise take time to develop new non-work relationships, as much as a year to a year and a half. My journey went from retirment euphoria, to a brief case of the blues, then onward in a steady incline of satisfaction. It took me about two full years to become fully and happily immersed in my ‘new’ life. Now that I’m here, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. As in anything! 🙂

  4. All your plans for retirement sound great! As time goes by you will find just where you fit and what you enjoy. Be sure that whatever you are doing makes you happy and that you feel your time doing it is well spent.

    1. Those eight weeks will be here and gone before I know it! I see so many successfully retired people around me who have found their happiness in a variety of endeavors. I imagine it will take me awhile to find my stride, but I have no doubt that I will. So much to explore!

  5. Congratulations on your retirement-to-be! There will definitely be changes but your attention to the challenges ahead of time should help with the transition. One of my fears is not having enough to do to stay engaged and busy once I leave the working world. It looks like you have some excellent activities lined up and are open to trying new things. Good luck and enjoy!

    1. Thanks, Dave! I have the fear of not enough to do also. But, it seems that just about every retired person I know says “I’ve never been busier since I left work.” That’s my goal (but also include plenty of time for reading a book and enjoying my down time).

  6. Best wishes for your upcoming retirement, sounds like you have given it lots of thought, even created a website! Planning ahead for retirement is essential. I retired from full time employment in March last year but in 2009 we set up our online home exchange travel business to keep us busy in retirement. Since retiring, I have spent part of most days ‘working’ on our website, developing and marketing it to increase our member numbers.

    I would recommend becoming self employed in retirement but it takes much research and do something you enjoy.

    Cheers

    Brian

  7. Best wishes for your upcoming retirement, sounds like you have given it lots of thought about what to do when the actual day arrives.Planning ahead for retirement is essential. I retired from full time employment in March last year but in 2009 we set up our online home exchange travel business to keep us busy in retirement. Since retiring, I have spent part of most days ‘working’ on our website, developing and marketing it to increase our member numbers.

    I would recommend becoming self employed in retirement but it takes much research and do something you enjoy.

    Cheers

    Brian Luckhurst

      1. Home Exchange is such a great idea, why pay to stay in a hotel or rent somewhere when you can stay for free? Although it has become more popular recently many people still have concerns about the concept of swapping homes with strangers, which is understandable, but in most cases if you do it once you will do it again many times. If I can help answer any questions about this please let me know.

        Cheers

        Brian

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