Retirement – The Psychological Journey

Retirement is a solo journey. This is a period of  personal transformation, requiring a  psychological re-orientation.

It is a psychological journey with feelings not unlike those experienced in marriage and divorce.

On the big day of the retirement party, all you may remember are smiles, handshakes and good wishes as colleagues see you off. So, you are off to your honeymoon.

For the first time in life, you experienced total freedom. You are in the G0-Go stage. This is  a period when retirees get to do all the things that they wanted to do once they stopped working.

However, honeymoon cannot last forever! When it is over, the newlyweds will need to get down to the nitty-gritty of life, the business of living. Many retirees will find that they will have to deal with a feeling of let down. After all, retirement isn’t a permanent vacation; it also can bring loneliness, boredom, feelings of uselessness and disillusionment. You find yourself in a black hole and there is no compass to guide you.

Retirement involves discontinuing one’s identity and establishing a new one. The process can be painful. Who you are and how you define yourself in the last few decades will be forever changed at the point of retirement. The simple acts of changing your e-mail address, and returning your keys, computer and staff cards, registering yourself as retired members of professional societies could also be emotional moments. You are, in effect, wiping out your “being,” as a professional. It’s peeling off an identity. . . .  from an industry, a firm, or a personal work history . . . .  and entering a completely new chapter in life. Retirement is also a loss of routine; until a new routine is established.

In a way, retirement is like a divorce and breaking up is hard to do. There are very real emotional challenges in letting go of a career or work habits and  to accept that the relationships with your former colleagues and indeed, with you own self, have forever changed and the organization you worked for just moves on . . . . . the world still keep on turning, with or without you!

New and satisfying  answers to the identity questions must be found if the retiree is to satisfactorily close the chapter of work life. New purpose in life has to be defined. New and enjoyable life styles are to be established to replace the routine when the retiree is at work. There is no right way to retire. Retired colleagues I know of all seem to have finally found their way of coming to a new routine in life. The main key is to let go and move on. Of course, there are  some fairly key life changes and adjustments to make. It will take a while to get accustomed to a new life.

Finally, a new routine evolved. You do not have to go after things but things comes after you and the new landscape becomes familiar territory. You develop a new relationship with time and embrace every moment of it. You value the variable of meandering a bit in any given day, week, or month.  You are always making new plans, cultivating opportunities and exploring options . You continue to update these plans, recognizing that doing so is an important part of retirement. You are now happy that you have survived a divorce. . . . . . . .  you have successfully crossed the bridge from the world of  work to retirement!

Now is the time that you are free for authoring a new chapter of life that features the best you ‘ve ever been.

PS  Photo above shows suspension bridge crossing Bosphorous strait from Europe to Asia.


The Joy (and Jokes) of Retirement

The only reason for my retirement was because of health reasons – I was sick of my company and my company was sick of me. I knew if I was the last one to laugh at my boss’s joke, then I would not be too far from retirement. The best time to start thinking my retirement was before the boss does.

Working people have a lot of bad habits, but the worst of these is work. I told myself there’s one thing I always wanted to do before I quit – retire!

So one day, I returned  from work day and said to my wife, “Hi, Honey, I”m home – forever.”  From that moment on, I knew I switched bosses – from the one who hired me to the one who married me.  It turned out that my wife was happy because she knew that when a man retires, his wife gets twice the husband although receiving only half the income; knowing that if you have the time, you won’t have the money. If you have the money, you won’t have the time. The question isn’t at what age I wanted to retire, it’s at what income.

Then there was the memorable farewell party hosted by the company. My colleagues generously presented me with a watch at a time when time is no longer of essence. It is time I stepped aside for  less experienced persons. I knew that I have made a graceful exit at the most appropriate time

As I have retired from work, but not from life, I need something to retire to, so one of these things I set out to do was writing a blog. Retirement without the love of letters is a living burial.

I knew that I was taking my days off from my days off. Retirement is a time to enjoy life!  A time to do what you want to do, when you want to do it, how you want to do it. Retirement is wonderful. . . . . .  it’s doing nothing without worrying about getting caught at it.

Life begins at retirement. The concept of freedom is never truly realized untl one settles into retirement mode. Although, I have been taking many laps in my retirement, retirement is not a time to sleep, but a time to awaken to the beauty of the world around you and the joy that comes when you cast out all the negative elements that cause confusion and turmoil in your mind and allows serenity to prevail. Retirement has been a discovery of beauty for me. I never had the time before to notice the beauty of the lilies I love, the landscape and the tree outisde my own very window. . . . . . and the beauty of time itself.

A man cannot retire his experience, he must use it. So, I have been teaching, writing and using my previous experience as far as circumstances allow. I promise to keep on living as though I expected to live forever. Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul!

PS  The above is just a compilation of many Retirement quotes by this Retiree; the use of the originators’ ( dead or alive) quotable quotes is deeply acknowledged. They include George Foreeman, Chi Chi Rodriguez, Mason Cooley, Catherine Pulsifer, M K Soni, Clarence Darrow, R C Sheriff, Hartman Jule, Henry Emerson Fosdick, Gene Perret, Douglas McArthur and Seneca.