As baby boomers, my wife and I are right in the middle of the 75 million member generation that is rapidly entering the retirement years. We have overcome numerous challenges simply to arrive at this age. But even once we make it to retirement, there is no guarantee of smooth sailing, especially once health concerns enter the picture.
Some people approach retirement with a bit of fear and uncertainty, while others jump in with both feet and go for it. Personally, I can't wait to retire. Here are a few of the reasons I'm looking forward to my retirement years:
Downtime. Once retired, I can choose to do absolutely nothing whenever I want to, and for as long as I would like to. I can get up late, enjoy a second cup of coffee at my leisure, read my book for as long as I want to, exercise when it is most convenient, and basically flow into an unstructured day at a pace most comfortable to me. I am in control of the amount of energy I choose to exert on any given thing, if I choose to exert any effort at all. I plan to frequently immerse myself in this wonderful downtime as I travel into my retired years.
Pursuit of new interests. While mired in the working world my energies were focused on day to day performance at my job. When the weekends rolled around I was confronted with a list of things to do that did not get done during the week. If I was lucky enough to get all the way through the list, I was usually too tired to spend time on hobbies or other interests. And then before I could even take a rest, Monday rolled around again. In retirement, I will have that precious time to do the things I have always wanted to do. The list is already under way and growing steadily.
I will decide when and how I work. After giving some serious thought to what my retired life will look like, I plan to continue working in some capacity. I enjoy the interaction with others as well as the feeling of satisfaction upon successful completion of a project or goal. I want to avoid the stress of a full-time demanding career, but I still want to do something. The good news is that if one particular direction does not work out as hoped, I can quit and try something different.
I can act spontaneously. While working, supporting a family, and paying the bills, what I did and when I did it was often beyond my control. Monday through Friday were spent at the office, with the hope of recharging a bit over the weekend. Dreams of doing something on short notice were just that: dreams. In retirement, if I discover a special offer for a mid-week hotel on the coast, I can do it. I look forward to doing new and exciting things without too much planning and acting as the opportunities arise.
Spend more time with my wife. Throughout our lives one or both of us has always been working. Our timing was never quite in sync so that both of us were out of work at the same time, which was probably a good thing considering health insurance costs. In retirement, we will finally be together to do new things. We are fortunate in that over the years we have each developed our own interests and can keep busy via many different avenues. In retired life we can together undertake the spontaneous adventures we have dreamed of. We could head away for an extended visit to a foreign country, perhaps take some formal dance lessons, and maybe wander the countryside in a RV. It is all out there just waiting for us. I can't wait.
Dave Bernard is the author of Are You Just Existing and Calling it a Life?, which offers guidelines to discover your personal passion and live a life of purpose. Not yet retired, Dave has begun his due diligence to plan for a fulfilling retirement. With a focus on the non-financial aspects of retiring, he shares his discoveries and insights on his blog Retirement-Only the Beginning.