I’d like to think I’ve learned a lot over the last 66 ½ years. I definitely feel I’ve learned a lot by working the past 49 years, particularly the last 22 years working with entrepreneurs. However, it recently became obvious that I had one more very important lesson:
How to retire.
Except, in this circumstance, I want to talk to YOU about how to LET me retire! Yes, you’re getting this lesson.
Retirement is something we really don’t think much about until it’s here. Sure, we can plan at an early age (let me rephrase that — you’d BETTER start planning at an early age!), but those plans are typically financial. Yet, when retirement is truly on the close horizon, you’ve got more to consider than finances.
You have to think about slowing down — or do you? You have to think about planning, activities, taking care of family items, dealing with opportunities, and a host of other items. You do actually walk away from your job, and you are no longer working full time at your last place of employment. But how do you walk away? Better yet, how do people let you walk away?
So here’s a few thoughts about all of that. This is for you, you people who are still working. Yes, you who are still employed and have a co-worker who’s about to stop working.
Retirement = travel?
First off, if you know someone who’s getting ready to retire, don’t expect them to a) live up to your ideals and b) go with what you consider to be the “traditional things.”
Why do I say that? Here’s why: many people have asked me, “So, where are you going to go? Where are you and your spouse going to visit first?” And those people are shocked by my response.
“We’re not going to travel. We don’t want to travel. We want to stay home.”
In fact, some of those making this inquiry seemed affronted that I was not going to “sail away on a cruise” or “visit some exotic location.” In my past 49 years, I’ve traveled all over the world (even circumnavigated the globe four times). I’ve visited 46 different countries. I’ve been to some places where few Americans have traveled/visited.
I’ve spent hundreds of nights in hotels and many nights (unfortunately) in airports. I’ve seen cancelled/changed flights, been in strange/different aircraft (some I wouldn’t even call “aircraft”), taken crazy taxi rides and I’ve eaten questionable airport/airline food. I’ve been “stuck” in various locations, been stopped going through customs for hours (sorry, but it’s almost always when I come back home). I’ve been blessed by interpreters who helped me, sympathized with me and became my lifelong friends.
But — and I mean this in all sincerity — I DON’T WANT TO TRAVEL ANYMORE. My spouse doesn’t want to travel, either. So, stop asking us about it. We’re staying home. And that’s okay.
My retirement = your retirement?
Secondly, stop projecting yourself on me. I’ve had literally dozens of people say, “You know, if I was retiring, I’d ________ (insert “take up piano lessons”, or “play more golf” or “travel the world” (wait, we already covered that), or “learn to cook”).” Yeah? Good for you. I’m actually happy you have some goals for retirement.
But YOU ARE NOT ME — and I have my own ideas. How about just saying, “Hey, I’m happy for you, and I know you’ll be having the time of your life and doing things you want to do.” Yeah. That’d be nice. Thank you!
Third, don’t make any “strange” references. I actually had someone smack me in the arm, laugh, and say, “so you and your spouse are gonna have plenty of time for more of the wild thing, eh?” Seriously? The “wild thing”? I’ve got bad news for you, my friend. At our age, the “wild thing” is more like “watching TV past 9 p.m.” or “eating dessert first.” If we get really wild and crazy — well, we stay up past 9 p.m.
Get a grip and loosen up on the joke stuff. I do, of course, plan to enjoy my partner’s company a lot more (heck, I’ll be around a lot more) and I hope it’s reciprocal. (Although my spouse has been saying, “Oh, retirement! Twice as much of you, half as much money! Yay!”).
I also plan to do more to show my appreciation for my spouse, who put up with all the traveling, evening meetings, client entertaining, staff parties at our home, and especially all the talk/discussions about “work” over the years (without complaining and without trying to solve my problems, but instead, just listening).
I don’t plan on “getting crazy.” I plan on getting relaxed, getting better (at many things), and getting some things done (a couple of books; more blogs (sorry); painting my garage. (You know the drill. You’ve put off stuff around the house and now it’s time to get them done.) Yes, I’ll be plenty busy. In fact, I have friends who are retired who say, “Now that I’m retired, I’ve never been busier!” I plan on being one of those people — to an extent — but not TOO busy!
Retirement = forced ouster?
Last, but not least, stop speculating. “So, can’t cut it anymore, eh?” is not a helpful, gracious response. And “Why don’t you keep working? You’re good at what you do!” is not a compliment. “You know, you could keep working at least part time, just to keep your mind sharp” doesn’t make me feel good about you or the future.
“So, they’re pushing you out the door, huh?” isn’t a fair thing to say to me. I did good things here, and I get along great with my boss. Stop it! Just accept that I’m retiring because I want to retire; because I’ve worked hard for nearly 50 years; because I was smart, and I did save, and we carefully planned for this.
I’m taking retirement at my full retirement age (which, if you must know, is 66) and yes, thank you, my boss actually was sorry to see me go. I’ve thought about this for over a year now, and it’s something I WANT to do. There’s nothing bad or no inherent failure in retiring. In fact, the opposite is true.
I’m actually prepared to retire. Are you prepared for me to retire? I hope so. If not, read the stuff above again. It might help you retire one day, and then you can move into that next phase of your life — hopefully without all the peanut gallery comments from your coworkers. Support your local retiree — it may be you, someday!
Mark S Long has long experienced the intricacies of business incubation, acceleration, coworking spaces, makerspaces and other entrepreneurial assistance venues. UF Innovate supports an innovation ecosystem that moves research discoveries from the lab to the market, making the world a better place.
Originally published at https://incubatorblogger.wordpress.com on June 1, 2021.