The Face of Retirement

Written by Jane Hebert

“What does retirement look like?” a successful young acquaintance began, explaining that she had recently conversed with her financial advisor who asked about her plans for retirement. Being 35, that stage of her life is seemingly a long way off! Since she knew I am retired from gainful employment, she thought I might offer some insight.  After significant thought, a picture of my retirement developed in my mind.

It’s important to me now that my daily activity must be meaningful, fulfilling, and challenging. The activities that have engaged my time and kept me interested are those that help me find a way to “pay it forward” and those that use skills I developed when I was younger and put aside. So what does my face of retirement look like?

I try to think positively and maintain a sense of humor. Laughter eases stress and pain, and positive thinking helps me solve any and all problems. One element that helps ease potential stress is the invaluable help from our financial advisor, who keeps us informed and balanced. Another is associating with energetic people who think positively as well.

I nurture my friendships. I regularly keep in touch with my best friends no matter where they live, and make an effort to reconnect with friends with whom I’ve lost touch. New friends energize my spirit. Friendships are, in my opinion, one of the most important elements of a successful retirement because friends encourage us to remain a part of this world and to continue learning and living.

I love my family and spend many hours either with them or communicating with them. Our children and grandchildren are spread out literally all over the globe right now, so frequent communication with each of them is vital. Thank you, Skype!

I care about how I look and feel. Proper nutrition is important to me and my husband, so we cook more and eat out less and we try to be adventurous in our cooking. And how can my dog get her exercise if my husband and I don’t walk her every day?

I read. I don’t read plot driven paperbacks anymore; I now revisit literature that was mandatory reading in school, and now understand why it was mandatory reading. I also read new literature, historical fiction, nonfiction history and fact based news articles. I keep up with technological innovations but won’t allow social media to consume my time. I have begun taking dance classes again and enjoy it for its physical and mental exercise. I sing in a choir, enabling me not only to embrace my love of music, but to meet new people who enrich my life; and hopefully I can give them back something of me. I take time to get to know and listen to my children’s friends, giving me a different perspective of our world’s future.

I enjoy volunteering my time to those organizations that value trained volunteerism. They are organizations run in a business-like manner and benefit the parts of society that need support.

My husband and I love to travel for many reasons; we love restful vacations and visiting historical areas where we can learn. We love to visit family and friends. We’ll continue to travel as long as we are healthy enough to do so.

I value quiet time to reflect on what is important to attend to, and then plan the attention.  It might be a list of to-dos or simple meditation, but it is quiet time.

And yes, I do crossword puzzles. Not the New York Times puzzle very often, but my daily goal is to do one found in the newspaper in ink without looking at the solution. Sometimes I’m successful!

In my opinion, successful retirement doesn’t necessarily mean an extravagant life style. Travel can be to a local venue. Good reading material is available at the library. Nurturing friendships can be done by mail or phone. It’s less expensive, healthier, and more challenging to plan and make home cooked meals. Volunteering usually takes your time, not much of your money.

This is my face of retirement. What does yours look like?