Successful Retirement Requires Room for Champagne
It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve written anything – or even sat down at my computer. No particular event or reason. I just didn’t “feel like it”. Part of me feels like I’m deluding myself in thinking anyone even reads the stuff I write here. Another part doesn’t give a shit.
And yet, I feel writing has and will continue to save me. (Bonus: If anyone DOES read what we post, maybe they’ll find some comfort, information, or humor and be glad they did.
My Life Reinventions
As of next month, I’ll have been “retired” a year. Actually, my official end-date was July, but I was out of the office by end of May… so, that’s the date I’m using. I’ve reinvented myself several times in my lifetime. If I had to pick a special talent, I’d say reinvention is one of the things I’m best at. (For you grammar freaks… reinvention is one of the things at which I am best.) This is just another in the long list:
- 1981 Flight Attendant to Bank VP
- 1986 Bank VP to Medical Office Management and Consultant
- 1990 Medical Office Management and Consultant to Bank VP
- 2003 Bank VP to Social Media and Small Business Sales Consultant
- 2011 Social Media and Small Business Sales Consultant to Bank VP
- 2017 Bank VP to …TBD
So, one-year in and I’ve still not totally nailed the “new me”, but I’m feeling more comfortable. (Let’s hope that means it’s getting close.)
For those of you who have experienced working full-time in a hectic, demanding, fast-paced corporate environment for almost your entire adult life, and then you’re not – it can give you emotional whiplash. What do I mean by that? Here are a few examples:
- Going from a full schedule, generally predictable if not routine – to you don’t HAVE to do anything if you don’t want. Even with a flexible job, able to work from home and with a lot of travel – there was a schedule I had to keep, milestones to meet. Now, nada. Any timeline or deadline in my life is self-imposed. The first few weeks, this is GREAT. After that, it’s more disconcerting than you’d think. Making a schedule, practicing discipline for discipline’s sake doesn’t seem like a reasonable thing. But it is. It’s important to have some. Discipline, that is.
- If you can do ANYTHING you want, it’s hard to choose. I think of the saying “You can do anything you want; you just can’t do everything”. At least for me, it’s a conundrum of having to say “no” to so many things in order to say yes to a few. These past few months have been a lot of chasing my tail; doing this and that and a lot of running but not getting very far. It’s important to make a decision, the best decision you can make at the time after considering alternatives. Decide. Move forward. Don’t second guess yourself after the fact. Move forward.
- The real you is the same you. Ask someone to describe themselves. Chances are they’ll say something related to their job or their family. “I’m a banker, a lawyer, a mother, a wife…” But, if you quit your job, divorce your husband – does that mean you’re not the same you? There’s a feeling of identity loss when you’re no longer part of the corporate family. Not to mention, the loss of social interaction and sense of accomplishment. Being secure and comfortable …and familiar with the you who is one and the same you, employed or not.
Even if your reinvention/retirement was long planned, it’s difficult; much more so if the change was not your idea. Either way, be patient. Be kind to yourself. Spend time alone to give your head some space.
Give Your Head Some Space
That’s what helps me get back on track – back in touch with “me”; alone time. Not reading or looking at Facebook or watching TV but being alone with myself. I know you’ve heard this a million times, but it’s true; writing is really helpful. Yes, like writing this post. But the writing doesn’t have to be anything organized. It doesn’t even have to be coherent. Free writing, just putting pen to paper and “let it rip” sort of writing is great for calming and clarifying. The first few times you might feel stressed. “Wha
t am I supposed to write?” “No, that’s stupid.” Being in control and being productive is so ingrained in us, unless we can attach a specific value or result to something we dismiss it as a waste. Trust me. Writing in this way is not a waste and it is valuable.
This spring I’ve gotten into gardening. Not really gardening, per se – but more like reclaiming wild terrain and trying to tame it into a yard. Planting is what I’ve been doing more than gardening. But, it’s been good alone time. Back breaking and insect-filled, but good alone time.
Sitting on the patio first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee is good alone time. (If I can get up before Kurt.) It’s my way of meditating. I sit there and watch the birds; listen to their chatter; watch the hummingbirds flit here and there jockeying for position at the feeder. No real purpose, just watching and listening. Walking is also good. Once the temperature passes 90, it’s not so good but until then, it’s a good way to find alone.
Make Room for Champagne
Why is it important? I’m not a psychology professional, but for me it helps settle down the “monkey brain” and makes space for new and creative thoughts. Sort of like pouring a glass of champagne, pausing to let the bubbles (monkey brain) settle to create space for more champagne. Or, another analogy (I’m on a roll) harking back to my gardening… Think about watering a new plant. The ground gets saturated so the additional water pools up, the soil shifts around and covers up the sprout. You need to quit adding water until what is there drains through. That’s what it feels like when I don’t take time to be alone, life pooling up around me burying me. The alone time helps things settle down, in my head anyway, so I’m better able to sort through thoughts, recognize new ideas/opportunities and better manage challenges.
I know I’m not alone. Right?
What my new reinvention will look like is still unclear. Whether it’s a part-time job, consulting, or nothing – I DO know the “new me” is the “old me”, only smarter (I hope). I also know I’ll be writing; if only to make room for more champagne.