Monday, November 1, 2010

What Retirement can be like

"The good news is I'm retired and the bad news is I'm retired".

The first line is a good start to what retirement is and it is definitely not for everyone. But what it can be like if you are a man with a wife and family is a little like being a Fireman waiting for a fire to put out and once in a great while having to be sort of a policeman. But most of the time you are "on call" 24 hours a day to protect family and friends. So, you are ready with your car to help either family or friends at any moment or to get on a plane or whatever you have to do to keep everyone safe and okay that are your family or friends.

And also, there can be a lot of places that you travel to that you always wanted to before but didn't because either your kids were to young to safely travel there or they were 12 or above and wouldn't do anything you wanted to or whatever. But finally as a retired adult your time is your own (if you have enough money for you and your wife to retire on safely, even with inflation or whatever else happens in the world in the future.

So, you spend a lot of time making sure whatever your investments happen to be: home, car mortgages stocks etc. are on firm footing so you can continue to be retired ongoing successfully as long as you need to. Also, you might be contacting lawyers and setting up trusts so your kids can more easily inherit whatever is left after you are gone.

So, after you prepare to be ready for anyone 24 hours a day, it is sort of hurry up and wait! So, at this point if you don't appear to be needed at the moment to take care of someone then your time is your own. At first this might seem like a good thing. But unless you are a self starter after the first few months or years you might wonder why you are continue to live because most of us have been forced to take care of ourselves and our spouses or children or parents or other relatives or friends for so  long we just kind of have forgotten how to just take care of ourselves with not as much going on as before. So, this is going to be an adjustment of 5 or 10 years and many don't make it psychologically through this and so drift into alcoholism or drug abuse or worse. So, what I have found is that you need to have one or more interests to keep you going. If you don't create interests or hobbies then find a part time job or start a new business or  start a non-profit of some kind or do something that gives meaning to your lives and keeps your mind and body working. If you don't then you will be gone within 5 years like my own father was. He retired in 1980 and was gone by 1985 with prostate cancer. Now, you might say, "Well. He died of cancer. That wasn't his fault." Well. That's true. But also retirement wasn't what his fantasy was and even though he was a very intelligent man psychology wasn't his strong suit and so retirement disempowered him in a way that ended his life one way or the other wtihin 5 years, however you want to look at it. However, for an Electrical Contractor he outlived the average contractor by about 12 years as he was 69 when he passed away and the average construction contractor I think is about 57 when he passes on.

So, I think the main reason that I'm still alive here at age 62 after being forced to retire because of my health at age 50 is that I had a 2 1/2 year old daughter and I wife that I married around age 45 that I needed to stay alive for. So now that my daughter is 14 she has only known me consciously as a retired adult. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing at least I have been alive and always there for her like her mother. So, this is one version of what retirement can be like after 12 years of retirement, so far.

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