On Retirement: Taking a step into the unknown

After a 34-year career in marketing services and products, I am retiring.  It hasn’t quite sunk in yet. I am sure that sometime in the next few weeks I will boot up my laptop in the morning to login and remember that I am retired, that I don’t need to check my email to see if another proposal needs my attention, or check that we have been shortlisted and need to prepare for an interview. It is a very surreal experience, kind of a happy sad.

Words of Wisdom

Phases in life often just happen. The retirement phase is generally purposeful and deliberate; an element of your Working Career Phase plan. Even so, when it arrives, it is not always an easy transition and there are many unknowns no matter how much you plan.

One of my peers, Hugh Kuyper, retired earlier this year. I asked him for some advice on what to expect. Here are a few of his observations, pointers, and experiences:

  1. You get lots of advice from people who have already retired.
  2. The first year, you do projects you didn’t have time to do when you were working. Which is true, but you end up doing more spontaneous fun things than you were ever able to do when working. 
  3. At first, there is not enough time to miss work. I am finally – 6 months later – getting to the point where I find myself asking what I will do next.
  4. I make sure I do stuff to keep my mind busy. I got an IPAD tablet as a retirement gift and want to get proficient, so I spend an hour every morning and investigate a topic.  I am also reading one of several financial books that I have, studying how to protect my assets.
  5. You have more time to spend with the family. My daughter will find things for me to do, like watching her house when they go on vacation. In one instance, this involved 1 dog, 3 cats, 4 horses, 7 cows, and several dozen chickens. I needed a vacation after that one.
  6. The stresses of WORK melt away quickly.
  7. Good habits endure!! I am enjoying carrying over all the disciplines from a long engineering career – I prioritize all my projects.
  8. Now I can do design for free if I choose to. About two weeks after retirement, I got a call from an architect who was doing a volunteer project in the OSO slide area – I participated Pro Bono!

Hugh is happily settling into retirement (after 6 months), and I appreciated his words of wisdom! When I let others know that I was retiring the range of responses has been fun to hear.

  • No way, you are too young.
  • Whoopee!
  • Congratulations!
  • Miss you already

What’s Next

When we aren’t traveling, we are planning on spending our winters in Arizona in a community chock-full of activities, and living in our RV in Washington during the summers in a private camping club. Some of the comments we have heard from the kids:

  • When will you be back?
  • I can’t believe you’re selling the Lake House!
  • Can I have the quads?
  • Are you keeping the boat, can I have it?
  • What are you going to do with the lounge chairs in the living room?
  • Whatever you don’t take, I want first dibs.
  • Have fun Mom and Dad, you deserve it.

The last comment is my favorite. My husband retired from Boeing in June and we are just now getting ready to hit the road. I know I will miss the invigoration of my job, the constant challenges and interactions, the highs and the lows. And most of all, I will miss the people. But I am truly looking forward to what is in store for the next phase, the great adventure of retirement. It feels like leaving on a grand vacation, but one with no end in sight.

I am thankful for such an exciting ride the past 34 years, and beyond thrilled about the next phase. Ready or not, retirement here I come!



One Comment

  1. Diane,
    I stopped by the office and missed you by one day. Glad to hear you are joining the ranks! I would add the following to Hugh’s remarks:

    – Take time each day for a guilt-free nap.
    – Take time to read those trashy novels that you have been collecting on your bed stand. And finally,

    – Throw away your alarm clock

    Wishing you safe and happy travels.