Sometimes You Have No Choice
I am now 64 years old, but I retired eight years ago (at 56). I retired not because I wanted to or even planned to, but because I had to.
I had a good job that paid well, enjoyed my family and friends and was generally living the "good life". Then everything changed... I had a stroke.
Fortunately, it didn't leave me paralyzed or relegate me to a nursing facility, but it did leave me with a long term disability that prevents me from ever working again.
I was financially prepared as much anyone could be for such a life altering event, so I will be able to live comfortably for the remainder of my life.
What I wasn't prepared for was the abrupt change in my daily routine, the assault on my self-esteem and the feeling of loss associated with my perceived inability to be a "contributing member of society". It took a while (about a year) for me to grapple with this sudden change in my working status and begin to manage these issues, but finally I was able put things into perspective. I prioritized the truly valuable things in my life and actually began enjoying my untimely retirement.
I now embrace my free time, appreciate a flexible schedule and spend more time with my family. I read more, travel whenever I want (not just for business) and have learned the elusive art of "slowing down". I can now relax without any of the accompanying guilt I used to feel before my stroke. I finally realized that I had worked hard for many years so I could enjoy a few more in retirement.
Like anything else in life, it takes time and patience to adjust to new things, but it’s definitely worth the effort. I try to spend more time appreciating what I have than grieving for what I’ve lost.