Retirement—are you really prepared?

When I was a kindergarten teacher, we had a custodian at the school who began talking all the time about his forthcoming retirement, which was about a year away. He talked constantly about how he was going to play golf all the time, and just hang out and relax. No more having to get up early to come to work. He had been at the school a long time. When he left, we gave him a giant blow-out of a retirement party, including new golf clubs and a vacation cruise for him and his wife.

As it happened, his wife did not retire when he did. So after the cruise, she returned to work. He played golf for a while, but after a few months, he returned to the school to work as a security guard. And he worked there until his wife also retired. I'm just guessing, but I think he just wasn't prepared for his new life. I think maybe he was prepared to relax and not get up every morning to go to work, but not to just hang around and only play golf. I guess that when you don't have that much time to do something you like, you can't wait to do it—but when that's all you do with your time, the activity sometimes doesn't have that much attraction.

I've since discovered that you have to look at retirement from the point of view that you might be retiring from a position, or a job, or a responsibility—but not from life. You have to fill up that time. And that takes preparation. You see examples of this all the time, with retirees who have gone back to work in the big retail stores as greeters. Many people take on second professional careers.

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He said, she said
November 3, 2003

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