Bob said, “You haven’t helped me. You haven’t told me if and when I should retire. You haven’t told me if I should enjoy my retirement or dread it.”
Well this is my chance to try and answer Bob’s questions. I’ll begin with a questionable comment. To retire successfully there are four things you need.
First thing is money. You need enough money to do what you want to do. You’ve worked for the government for about 40 years. It’s too late for you to accumulate money. If you don’t have enough money now you never will have. Do what I do. Make your aims and plans fit the money available. Don’t try and make your money fit your plans.
Second thing you need is good health. Bob at the moment you are pretty healthy. You may be suddenly hit by an unexpected malady. I can’t tell you how to avoid a sudden medical disaster. All I can do is two things. Tell you to try and maintain your present health indefinitely and wish you a quick recovery and successful rehabilitation if you are hit by the sick stick.
Third thing you need is a good social network. You need people to talk to. More than just me. Somebody to talk to about what was written in The Mercury. What you watched on TV. The latest film you saw. The telemarketers are not part of your social network.
Bob I know you and when working you seemed to have a strong and deep social network. During your whole working life your social network evolved and changed. People left and others entered. Well entering retirement land the changes will be sudden and more numerous. Some of the changes, like avoiding the man trying to sell you another phone plan, will be welcomed. Some of the changes are unavoidable and precipitate sadness.
Your social network should include people who will say, “That’s a really dumb idea.”
Unlike some retired professional sports people I have managed to hear such words. You know I live with people who know and care enough about me to tell me the truth.
When somebody recently asked me where I worked I was initially pleased and upbeat to be thought of as a worker and then ashamed and embarrassed to admit, “I don’t work.”
This is where my social network judged it was time I heard the truth with comments such as, “Nobody could possibly think that you work.”
This is where I say to Bob. Don’t ape me, when you retire be proud of yourself and what you do.
Number four is a reason for getting out of bed. You need something to do. You need an aim or goal. It may be turning your hobby (music) into a small money-making business. It may be turning some of your interests (music) into non-paid volunteer work. In your case it won’t be looking after grandchildren. It is defiantly the way I spend part of my time-pretending I am looking after my grandchildren- and I know there are people who spend all their time with their progeny.
Perhaps you can aim to improve your backhand. I know when I partner you it worries me. When I play against you I go for it. I see it as your weakness. Now that you are retired you have got no excuses. Your backhand should become good.
Bob I realise I haven’t told you whether or not or when you should retire. I can’t. But I can say don’t look forward to retirement as nirvana. Don’t spend your working life complaining about your job and saying, “I hate this. One day I will retire and no longer have to put up with this nonsense.”
Enjoy your work. Don’t delay pleasure until you retire.
Your life in retirement land will not be dramatically different to your working life. It’s a different stage of life. It is not a dramatically different country. When you migrate from working land to retirement land you take a lot of luggage with you. Some of the luggage, like old friends, is welcome and appreciated. Some of the luggage you should have left behind but had no choice about. That’s life.
Bob I can’t say if you should retire. You are still capable of working successfully. You could go on for a couple more years. However now may be a good time to retire. You are fit and healthy. It may help you adjust and settle into retirement land.
Bob enjoy your retirement –whenever it comes- as much as your working life. Enjoy them both. Go for a pair.