Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Hitting the jackpot in retirement

No, I’m not talking about winning the lottery or heading to Vegas; I’m not talking about money at all.  I define hitting the jackpot in retirement as finding joy.

Reading “The Biggest Surprises in Retirement,” in the WSJ prompted me to take stock of how I’m faring one year into retirement, using the surprises outlined in the article.

The joys of taking a risk
The article defines risk-taking as “Trying or learning something new, and risking your time and energy (and perhaps your pride) in the process.”  The example was a woman who learned to play the guitar and now plays in an ensemble.

I see self-publishing a collection of my newspaper columns as my risk. Though I’d already written the columns, I had to learn how to write an introduction, back cover blurb, press release, and marketing plan, and how to create author pages on Facebook and Amazon. What else have I learned? That I had plenty to learn.

The easy part was leveraging my community contacts to place the book in local shops in time for the holiday season. The hard part has been plugging away at my marketing plan since then. I like to say I didn’t bite off more than I could chew, just more than I had planned to chew.   Jackpot

Free time at last
“Even though retirement today … is seen as more ‘active’—more ‘purpose-filled’—many readers told us that ‘active’ isn’t mandatory. That it’s fine simply to…chill.” It seems the biggest difference is that we retirees have more freedom to choose what we spend time on.

My choices? See matinees and hit the bicycle trails with my husband on weekdays, write every day, take yoga classes, work out.  I chill by reading every night, playing WWF and lingering over the WSJ with my morning coffee−except for mornings at the gym−and by taking naps. Naps are one of my greatest indulgences. When I worked, there was no time to read the WSJ, and I certainly couldn’t take naps.   Jackpot

Losing yourself
“Walking away from work … [can be] more painful than you anticipate.” Says one former executive, “My biggest and most unanticipated retirement adjustment was my temporary loss of self-value.” Thankfully, that hasn’t been my experience, perhaps because I’d discovered my passion for writing before retirement.

The same exec continues, “Having burned both ends of the candle for 40 years, it was a shock … to suddenly find myself and my calendar no longer in demand.” Not a problem for me. In fact, I sometimes feel guilty that I’m not working hard enough to market my book, but I keep telling myself, “You don’t have to work as hard as you used to; you’re retired.”  

The ties that bind
Now, this one did ring true for me. We’ve all heard it’s difficult to make new friends the older you get, but that’s not been the case for many retirees.

I enjoy keeping up with friends, old and new, and more free time makes that even easier. Email and Facebook help me stay connected with the friends I made from 32 years in corporate America, and lunches and coffee klatches help me sustain local friendships and create new ones. As one retiree observed, “Happiness in retirement is directly related to the people you spend time with.”  Jackpot

Final assessment? Yup, looks like I’ve hit the jackpot. 

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