In her book Children of Men , P.D. James describes a future population unable to conceive and produce children. The last children were known as Omegas, which literally means last. Some people equate retirement with entering the Omega stage of life.
I am at the age when more and more of my friends and acquaintances are approaching retirement. I am in good company. The U.S. Census Bureau says there are more than 77 million Baby Boomers, defined as those born between 1946 and 1964. It is interesting to me how some people approach retirement as the end, while others look forward to a new beginning. And I can usually predict the success or enjoyment of one’s retirement based on their perspective.
I have come to realize retirement is a process, not an event, and different for everyone. My friend Abby, a teacher for more than 30 years, was anxiously anticipating retirement, counting down each day. She lasted about three weeks before she got a part-time job at an airline. Her new job does not pay a lot, but she gets to travel for free when flights are not full. She is having a ball and traveling to places she has always wanted to see.
Sometimes external events come into play such as corporate restructuring or health problems that necessitate one leaving a job before they are actually ready. These are the people that have the hardest time because they are not in control of how they are entering an important phase of their life.
I will be watching another friend as he retires in the next few months. He is the victim of corporate restructuring. Not quite ready to go, but uncomfortable to stay. He is smart and planning some of his daytime future activities now. He is also making travel plans and has timed it so he will have a trip to look forward to the first few weeks of retirement.
When people ask my opinion, or ask how it has been for me, the only advice I give is that retirement is different for every person. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. We have been programmed for most of our life, to get up each morning, work all day, come home at night and have a few hours of free time. As crazy as it sounds, it is difficult to learn to relax, have fun and not feel guilty.
Retirement does not have to be the Omega stage, it can be the beginning of an exciting new phase. Embrace the process of retirement, which can in itself be exciting and rewarding. Look forward to having new challenges and ways of life.