Thinking about retirement can bring a wide variety of emotions, and I will concede up front that a person's job and corresponding financial situation can dictate whether the idea of retirement is alluring or frightening.
For a lucky few in a career they love that still inspires them, retirement is put off well past retirement age. They are in no rush.
For some, it's not even an option, when they haven't been able to prepare and save for retirement (due to job choices or layoffs, lack of education/earning power, or just hard luck).
For me, I couldn't get there fast enough. From the age of 55 on, I was constantly doing the math when it came to our finances--what age could I feasibly retire, what we would need to live on in retirement, and how could I juggle things to help us get there quicker. We were lucky; both my husband and I were working in careers that provided a pension in retirement (the company I worked at stopped offering those 10 years before I retired, but those of us to whom it had already been promised, like me, would still receive them). In fact, we had both switched careers near the age of 40 since that is when you finally realize you ain't gonna live forever, and you certainly don't want to find yourself retired and eating cat food or working till you drop dead. So maybe we were both lucky and we planned ahead. We wouldn't be wealthy retirees, but we wouldn't be poor, either.
Ultimately, I semi-retired at 62; worked part-time as a consultant till 65 1/2 and then completely retired. It helped ease me into my new life in retirement, and yet... real, full retirement was still a bit of a shock. I now had the whole day, every day, to do what I wanted!!
All those years of working and juggling my creative hobbies--writing, theatre, music--and there I was, with no need to juggle.
When you spend your life trying to manage your time, trying to squeeze the things you love in there somewhere while doing things for or with those you love (and ladies - let's face it, women continue to do the bulk of the juggling), it can and is exhausting. Yet, managing to have a truly full life was more important to me than 8 hours of sleep, so for years I found a way to do it all. Or most of it. (Just don't wear your white gloves to my house.)
But now, at last, I was living on retirement time. Hell, after a week or two, I didn't even know what day it was. Who cares? Weekends no longer mattered, since the work week no longer existed for me. There was nowhere I had to be, and nothing I had to do. At least nothing that couldn't wait until tomorrow.
Woo hoo!!! I could now do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to do it. Right?
(continued next week)
Donna J. Abear is the author of a children's play SPRUCEY, THE BLUE CHRISTMAS TREE, a memoir RELATIVELY CRIMINAL, and a humor book MOM…YOU’RE NOT NAKED, ARE YOU?. Married, mother of four, grandmother of two, and a “dog mom” too, she is living her dream in the Pacific Northwest among the trees and wildlife she loves.