And Now for something completely Different
by Susan McVey
Beginning today I am a retired person. This is a major life change and I have to admit it does not yet seem real to me. There have certainly been indicators along the way that this was coming. Many friends who have made the transition before me and some on the same day. I have more retirement cards in my stash of greeting cards than any other category. Being greeted by colleagues, friends, and family members with the openings salvo of “so when are you going to retire?”
I have been eligible for full retirement for several years. I even began planning for retirement about a year ago. Turning in the forms and starting the process is anything but a spontaneous event. I intended to do it, I took all the steps to make it happen, and it has arrived. So why am I surprised? I have discovered I have this logic issue most times I engage in long range planning. Whatever the period of time between when I begin to plan for the event and when it occurs, I psychologically continue to consider that I still have that same amount of time before the event happens. I am not unhappy the event occurs but I am often mildly surprised.
Having achieved the goal or retiring, a few things have changed. Now the opening remark isn’t when are you going to retire but rather what are your plans for retirement? After I made the announcement that I was retiring, I began to ask the people I know who are retired what their lessons learned from their own transition and if they had any recommendations. Most told me that they found themselves over committed and to hold off making too many commitments in the beginning. I have taken their advice and am considering this a “gap year” between employment and the next stage in life. I am willing to volunteer for specific events but not ongoing multi-year terms.
I have to admit that my work/life balance wasn’t particularly good while I was employed. There was a lot more work than life and I tended to conserve my emotional energy so I would be able to focus on my job. That is one of the areas that I am determined to balance now by spending much more energy re-connecting to friends and family. On my first day of retirement I am driving to Ardmore to celebrate a friend’s retirement and spend the night with another friend. Thanks to a friend I have a trip planned in April to Redondo Beach outside of Los Angeles. I have never been there but I am looking forward to exploring somewhere new. I also want to do fun things like ride the new streetcars, try new restaurants, go to more movies and live performances, and attend public lectures all here in Oklahoma City. I plan to be more involved in Club 29 as well. I want to attend more of the Tuesday lunches and some of the after hours events. What I expect to enjoy the most in retirement is the opportunity to engage more deeply with friends, family, and have new experiences.