This time next year I hope to without a job, intentionally. In February, I’ll be 55 and old enough for early retirement.
In my group of 12 employees, there are 5 who are 55 or older — and I am the youngest. All of the others are either 55 or close enough to it to be able to file the retirement paperwork. Three could go at any minute. However, despite being the youngest, I may be the first of the five to actually do it.
It’s a big step, for all of us. We’ve all worked since the early 70s for just two employers — the US Navy and our current company. After working so long, taking the step of leaving and going into retirement, even if you’ve saved enough to do it, is a significant change — and it can be scary.
“I can’t afford to yet.”
“I don’t know what I’m going to do if I’m not working.”
“I’ll retire when I find another job. I can’t not work.”
“We have too many bills.”
“It just isn’t going to work out the way that I thought it would.”
Martha Brockenbrough, in How to Tell If You Like Your Job … And How to Start Over If You Don’t, says, “If you don’t love what you do and look forward to doing it, that means you are condemning yourself to a life of discontent. It’s not that every moment at work has to be the best moment ever. As with anything, even the ideal job has its challenges and frustrations. But if you’re just putting in time, waiting for retirement or some other milestone to really live your life, you’re in trouble. ”
I used to really love what I do. However, mergers and standardization and many of the other things that make good business sense for the stockholders have taken away most of the fun. It got so bad last year that, had I not been so close to retirement, I would have quit. While things are not so bad this year, the underlying conditions still exist, so the right thing to do, for me, is to retire as soon as I can.
Rita Schwab, in Career Choices – Taking Time To Dream, says “Being scared of change is okay. Allowing that fear to close your mind to other possibilities is not.”
Retiring is a big step — the ultimate career change — but given that the fun is gone, I can’t afford to stay much past the day I’m 55. I may not be able to fully retire, but I can afford to take at least a year off before finding something else. Finding something to do is not a problem. I’ve got more than enough to keep me busy. I have a lot of things I want to do and, when those are done, other things will find me.
Three years from now, I may not be retired, but it won’t be for the lack of giving it a chance.