When I was writing about Life Purpose recently (link here), I started to think that finding a grand Life Purpose (capital letters) might be a “Retirement Myth” meaning ideas about retirement that are not really true. Or aspects of retirement that if you don’t implement for yourself, you feel like you’ve failed. What other retirement myths might there be?
All retirees continue to work, at least part time. If it is not a full-on second career, then it is a side hustle, or at least a part-time job – but you are doing something! As I looked at the retired folks in my sphere, about 50% are actually working (part-time) for compensation. There are other ways to “work” of course – personal projects that you (or another family member) might pay others to do and volunteering are both non-compensated work. But there’s still that 50% that have active, full days with other (non-work, non-compensated) activities! So it’s a myth that ALL retirees continue to work. You need to determine if it’s right for you. It could be a way to fulfill “need gaps” created with work cessation (see link here for recent blog on that topic). But those need gaps can be filled without a return to compensated-work, too. Unfortunately, I do know of recent retires who struggled in filling need gaps and returned to compensated-work as a default, declaring they had “failed retirement”.
As long as you have the money figured out, retirement will be super easy to slide into. This is false myth in two ways. Even if you have the “money figured out” the transition of income to outgo can be a challenging mental shift, especially as the economy shifts. And then there is the slide, which for some is easy and for others, more of a challenge. Filling 40-65 hours per week that used to be focused on compensated work can be daunting. There are learning curves. One is learning to slow down and appreciate quiet time. Another is learning what your interests and strengths are and then doing the diligence to find and engage in activists that match them.
As a retiree, you’ll have lots of free time. After all, there’s those 40-65 hours per week that used to be focused on compensated work to fill. Surprisingly, when you start to do the activities that match your strengths and interests, life fills up quickly! However, you can be as “busy” as you choose. I love that I have full days but don’t feel rushed. In a given week, I’ve got my exercise classes, my friendship walk or lunch dates, my craft & garden activities, at least one club meeting, a book I’m avidly reading, a project I’m working on, blogging activities, at least one planned fun activity, and life to maintain (cooking, shopping, cleaning, self-care). I also leave time for quiet moments and hope I have the flexibility to be spontaneous. I’m also aware that it took time to get to this lifestyle calendar – learning my interests and the diligence to create the activities that matched them. And someone else’s full calendar might look totally different! Today’s retirees are not sitting on the couch all day with nothing to do – they are actively living life with intention.
All retirees “fill in the blank”. All retirees regularly travel. All retirees spend quality time with grandkids. All retirees play golf. While I certainly know retirees that do regularly travel, spend time with grandkids, and play golf, I personally don’t do any of those things. Recognizing that every person’s lifestyle will be unique, and not feeling like a failure if yours doesn’t match others is another learning curve!
So what is Retirement Reality? No grand life purpose, working or not as your own choice, doing the “work” to fill the need gaps left from no longer working full-time, filling your life with activities of your own choice – including time to just be.
What retirement myth have you come to recognize?
Picture credit: sunrise this week (daylight hours getting shorter, not me getting up earlier!)