3 yrs in, retired at 60. Part three: resolution
It's been a couple years and I thought to catch up on (personally) how long and how much it takes some people to retrain the brain and spirit into retirement. As previously written in my first two retire at 60 posts;
I had significant identity and depression problems due to retirement; an executive position and 60% international travel for 30 years provides significant barriers to developing a naturally relaxed and fulfilling retirement.
Over the past 3 years, I have worked various consulting and advisory opportunities that, in reality, show that I capitulated to my work as an identity problem.
Before long I found myself with those same pre-retirement pressures and robust travel schedule. Like everyone else though, bam , Covid happened. It was quite possibly a blessing that I had somewhat reentered the workforce; during the long, dark Covid winter, remote work occupied a good deal of my time and kept the simmering problems at bay that internment and isolation has on marriage.
Interestingly I found out the following things about post-retirement work:
- The voids left by depression and identity during retirement time were quickly filled with "just as bad" work anxieties
- Post retirement work doesn't offer the same challenges or personal rewards that your primary career did.
- There is a prevailing, hopeless feeling of "burning time." What is supposed to be the most important time in one's life, the chance to do what you want at your own pace, is being gobbled up by pretty meaningless work motions. You can't get time back. Like many of you, I'm in the blessed position of being OK financially, so the new money wasn't critical to quality of life.
- I found that any amount of work sapped personal energy and made me delay, by choice, projects that were so important for me to take on during my retired years.
- Balancing retirement and some level of post-retirement work is really hard on developing the next chapter in your post work marital/ significant other relationships.
At times I could (can) Jekyll and Hyde the various anxieties and depressions of work and retirement leaving my wife clueless as to who she is dealing with on any given day.
- I have seen that while I was frequently teased by a younger friend group about not working and not being relevant anymore, no one actually cares nor do they exclude you because you no longer have laborious anecdotes and tales of work to contribute. Most people just shake their heads in disbelief when they hear you have a chance to retire but chose to work.
In conclusion, after 3 years I am pulling down my shingle and closing up my consultancy. In the last week I filed for Social Security and plan to seriously stop all aspects of having a career.
Joining the workforce after retirement didn't provide the answers I was seeking to identity and depression, only sitting quietly with myself and analyzing the roots of those feelings each time they occurred really helped.
I also sought out a group, headed by an excellent physiologist, that is made up of individuals with similar career backgrounds all working to adapt to retirement in a fulfilling way.
Like this site, the group has been an excellent forum to share ideas and learn that these types of retirement struggles are not uncommon and they actually can be finally be put in context, stored in the proper box, and finally allow you to develop a truly fulfilling feeling to come from just being you in retirement.
It took me 3 years and a lot of personal energy to get to this point of balance and self fulfillment.
I'm hoping your own journeys take less time.