Frank Sinatra sang Paul Anka’s lyrics and made it into an anthem for many. I just returned from a vacation in Jamaica where I found many retirees and, given what I do, I asked them about their experiences of retirement. Here are some of their pearls of wisdom.
DO NOT COMMIT TO ANYTHING IN THE FIRST YEAR from Mr. B
I found out how tired I was and just rested up and took it easy for the first few months. I wanted to relax, get off the treadmill of work, clear my head, and get a sense of who I was now and how I wanted to live my life. I did not get another job, start volunteering, sell my house and move, or take on any big projects. I just hung out with my friends, played a little golf, took a couple of short holidays, hiked a lot, and paid attention to what others were doing.
I got real lazy about climbing on any diversionary merry-go-rounds. I told my wife to take it easy on the Honey Do lists too.
I watched others run headlong onto another treadmill and that was not for me. I saw some of my buddies chase their tails keeping busy just for the sake of keeping busy. One moved away and is struggling with starting a new life from scratch in a whole new setting. Meanwhile his friends found a new fourth for bridge and golf.
So that is my best tip. Give yourself a year to discover the new you as you evolve a bit with new interests and tastes.
CHALLENGE YOURSELF from Mrs P.
I got bored real fast. My kids did not want me interfering in their lives or even babysitting. I volunteered a bit but what I wanted was a challenge. Then I took a chance, I went back to school, did a make-up year and now I am in university taking botany and anthropology. I’ve been on a research course in South America and now this one in Jamaica.
I write papers, I am the oldest in my study groups and classes, I get stressed by deadlines and new concepts sometimes but I love it. The young folks are great; they tutor me and I counsel them. I am even applying to be a Teacher’s Assistant for next semester.
I feel excited about what I am learning, and useful in what I am doing. I love the atmosphere of the campus and all the folks I have met there. My husband is very supportive. We talk about what I am learning and now we both have a whole lot of new student friends. I feel really alive and the future has lots of possibilities.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK from Ms E.
I worked, and paid into my RRSP but really did not understand my financial position. First, I went to my bank and got a financial plan for retirement from them and went to their presentation on retirement. I looked into insurance options and benefit replacement plans. I still did not know if I could retire though. I read some books and then decided to invest in an independent financial planner to get objective advice.
She gave me more homework to do like track my spending for a few months, assess my home, my vehicle, and my health for possible costs in the future. I did not want to be blindsided by major costs. I decided to work for a few more months to save for my car fund, I got my teeth fixed, and tracked my expenditures. I made a few changes but really she just gave me the reassurance that I needed to make my decisions. I have a lot more peace of mind understanding more about finances and investments.
These examples are perfect real life experiences of people who retired “their way”. Each are very different but all positive and unique. Retirement is that opportunity to do it your way!
Do you have any great experiences or examples of how to do it your way?