Retirement is Not what I expected

by Dan
(Tomball, TX)

I worked for almost 43 years in a high stress atmosphere.

Never was one of those guys that loved my job but I didn't really hate it either. At first it involved a lot of hours of setting behind a drafting table and later setting in a cubical at a CAD station. Changed companies several times. The job paid very well.

I figured I would continue to do it until at least 66. Maybe until 70. I have been in the oil & gas industry most of the 43 years. When oil get cheap the industry shrinks.

Last year, after 7 1/2 years of service and no complaints, our department manager walks into my cubical on July 5th and says "Upper management and I decided to make a leadership change in this position. I don't have another project to put you on so August 1st is your last day. Sorry." That was two months before my 64th birthday.

I spent the first few weeks in shock. Then the next few in panic as there were no available jobs in my field. (With oil prices being very low there was no chance of a 64 year old guy at the top of the pay scale finding another job).

It was the first time since I was about 16 years old that I didn't have a job. Then I started to think about doing the thinks that I always thought I would do when I retired. After all, I wasn't hurting for money. I already had a financially secure plan.

But then I began to realize that all the things I had planned to do in retirement were not really plans at all. Just thoughts. Hobbies are hobbies. Not things to do for a living. Menial jobs don't pay very well.

Learning to do something completely different is hard at 64. When it began to sink in that the "when I retire I'm going to . . . . " was not not going to happen and wasn't what I really wanted to do any, the panic worsened and the depression began to set in.

Depression is devastating! It is completely undesirable and uncontrollable. I would set and think, why am I so miserable?

I reached a financial pinnacle a few years ago that I thought I would never achieve. I have no debts. None. I have a great wife, solid children, 7 grandchildren. We are all in good health. I can do whatever I want.

Why do I what to do nothing but disappear?

That has lasted for a long time but I have begun to come out of it. With some help I finally figured out (at least partially) what the problem is . . . . . was. I had spent most of my adult life working and saving and thinking (not planning) for a time in the hazy future when I would retire and "do whatever I want".

I had concentrated so hard on achieving a certain financial goal that I never considered what I would actually do with it.

I have reached a point just in the last few weeks where I am beginning to get my head wrapped around the idea of actually using the finances that I worked to put in place for the actual reasons they were put there.

I am beginning to come out of that deep dark hole. I'm discovering that I like doing some things that I never even considered. New endeavors. New hobbies.

So I have some advice: One is the age old saying "money cannot buy happiness". Maybe more importantly, "when I retire I'm going to do whatever I want" is not a plan!!

Also, your plans are only good for right now. The future is very unpredictable.

All employers should offer retirement counseling. Unfortunately most companies are only interested in their bottom line. You need a real plan. Get some help!!!

Comments for Retirement is Not what I expected

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Yeah, I haven't found it either
by: Dave

Don’t mean to pile on. But, … is it just me, or are there a LOT of discontented retirees out there?

I’ve written once before about 9 mos ago to express the empty, out to pasture feeling I’m having. Tried several suggestions on these pages. Short lived success in each. But thanks for that, Wendy. Your efforts ARE appreciated.

I guess there is something to be said for the "misery loves company" saying.

Let’s all keep on keeping on.


What retirement also means
by: Janice, missouri

The other thing about retirement is the fact that at the end you die. Of course, you could have died younger when you were working, but think.. when you are working you plan, at least financially for the future retirement, but what comes after retirement.

This is what bothers me, old age.

There should be better seminars on this aspect of retirement.

Don't Give Up
by: Dan

No meds. Thought about it but decided not to go that way. Not yet anyway. I think to many people just try and solve to many problems with drugs.

I have been married for 45 years to a very supportive woman. She has helped. I also have a good support group at my church. I don't know how anybody could make it through something like this without faith. My kids and grandkids are all close and that helps.

Actually the first step in climbing out was when I ran across your website at 3:00 one morning and started to read other peoples stories and realized that it wasn't just me. I'm not the only one going through this! That prompted me to read some other material.

The Bible has helped. My other "bible" is a little book I picked up off the sale rack at the big book store with the coffee shop. "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff . . . and it's all small stuff" by Richard Carlson. He has others also.

I'm still climbing and it's not always up. But it's not so dark in here anymore!!

by: Terry/Delray Beach

This is a terribly depressing site. Sorry, I have issues but this is not where I'll be visiting.

Wendy: Terry, I never thought so many would write about anxiety and depression in retirement. That was not my intention when I started the site. However, so many have found exactly what they needed here -- the sheer knowledge they are not alone. That shows them that many others have felt the same -- and they too will overcome the anxiety.

waiting to make the leap
by: Freddy /NJ

I'm not sure if your situation wasnt a blessing in disguise. While I'm able to retie next year..with pretty much the same income, (drawing from my retirement money instead of adding to it)... staying longer increases my pension and benefits. Like you, it seems reasonable to me to stay a little longer...accumulate a little more, just in case. But at what cost ?

We all have a limited time here, and another year of work isn't on my bucket list !

Retirement is Not what I expected
by: Charlotte

Hi Dan - I am glad you are digging out of the hole. I hope you will be able to find fulfillment in the days ahead.

I agree with all of what you said about retirement planning. But the way I see it, it's quite difficult to make specific plans for retirement unless you have some things that you absolutely KNOW you want to do.

When you are working, it is an unknown destination in the future and usually not what you thought it would be. So much emphasis is on saving for retirement these days with very little direction as how much is really needed so I think the financial part if somewhat fearful.

As with most things in life you have to live it to really understand it. And there is very little direction given by companies. They only seem to want to be rid of us once we reach a certain age & salary level as if we are no longer of value.

All the best to you in figuring this out.

WOW... Dan!
by: Wendy

Phenomenal post.. thank you!

Depression is not good, we all know that, and I'm so thrilled you are working past that!

Even better, you get it that its not all about finances... yes, we need to survive, but the whole idea of Retirement RENEWAL is even more important!

We can become whatever we choose to be. Money is nice, but yes, its not going to buy happiness... you can still do plenty and have fun without big finances. Someone with little might even live a much RICHER Retired Life as they might be more active in the community.

Finally, I am curious HOW you are crawling out of the hole? What is helping you? Do you have a counselor? Taking Meds? Reading books? or do you have a Retirement Coach? Just very curious what is helping you to move forward.

It's very encouragine for others! GOOO Dan!

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