Six Month Retirement Mark
Hooray! Six months ago I retired at age 60 after a very productive but highly stressful career as the lead attorney of a large national corporation. I thought I would share my experience for those who are close to, or just embarking on, their retirement journey.
I had not planned on retiring until I was age 67 but my company was purchased by another organization and, as a senior executive, I was placed on the list to be terminated and replaced with their general counsel.
As my termination date approached, my value became more clear to the new owners and I was removed from the termination list. However, I did not enjoy the new job and work I was given and not happy with the emotional rollercoaster I was put through so I decided it was time for me to leave. It was one of the toughest decisions I have made in my life.
It was not an ideal time with our youngest son still in college and the house not paid off yet but, after all I had been through with the company sale, acquisition and termination rollercoaster as well as the soul-killing new work assignments, I listened to the voice in my head and decided it was time to retire to begin a journey of wellness.
My thinking was that, after years of taking care of everyone else but myself, why wait for something to happen to me so I wanted to get ahead of any health/aging issues. So... six months ago I resigned and retired.
I'll be honest - I was scared because I had no retirement plan in place as this came up very fast.
After an intense and exciting career prior to the sale, I was petrified I would be staring at the clock waiting for the hours to tick by in retirement. Of course, there were some slow days especially after the novelty of retirement wore off but most of the days have flown by (see "positive thoughts" below).
Getting used to the change did not happen overnight though. So what did I do to transition to retirement? I gave myself the first month to recover with absolutely no plans.
After getting up at 5:30 am for the last thirty years getting kids off to school, lunches made, backpacks packed and then off to a stressful job, I relished the fact that I was not waking up with an alarm clock anymore.
I then read on the internet what was going on in the world and spent a few moments reflecting on what I was grateful for - sadly, "reflection" was something I never had time to do before.
The first month really did feel like the retirement saying: "every day is a Saturday." If I felt like going for a walk I would do that or whatever else I wanted to do. After a month or so, the novelty of retirement wore off and it felt like I needed some daily structure.
I continued my morning habits as above and then followed it up with an outside walk six mornings a week. That daily structure felt like my job now - walking for wellness.
I would make my lunch after my walk and then utilize the afternoon for appointments, projects around the house, seeing work colleagues when possible or anything I did not have time to do when I was working. Making a healthy dinner became a late afternoon project (experimenting with an air fryer).
Has all of this been a change? Enormous!!!
Was it scary? Absolutely - financially and emotionally - leaving my friends and colleagues as well as getting used to spending so much time with my own thoughts which I was not used to doing at all.
I learned very quickly that those thoughts and internal conversations need to be positive and kind to myself - they are what get you out of the bed in the morning and out the door and into the world. Was the early retirement worth it? No doubt about it. I
have never been happier. My husband, who was not supportive of the retirement decision, initially, because of financial reasons, can now see how much happier and less stressed I am and has accepted it. He has even started talking about retiring "someday" himself which is huge!
I recognize it has only been six months and my daily schedule may change again depending on what is going on in my life, but that's OK - I am learning to ride the wave of change.
Wow...I never thought this Type A personality could even say something like that! Life sure is an exciting journey!!
I hope my experience can help someone during their transition to retirement. I am thinking of you....
Wendy's other site... because Aging Matters!