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February 04, 2015

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Barb

Goodness, I don't think retirement sucks, and I came into it with much less money than most. I'd choose not working over working almost every time.

Cindi

Personally, I think people make too much out of retirement ad nauseum. IMHO, retirement is just another phase of living your life.
As for me, I hated working. So, I did whatever I had to do in order to avoid working for either myself or anybody else. Working, to me, was a means that kept me from living/enjoying my life. Each hour of work was sheer torture. How many workers do you know who spend their working days looking at the clock? Or waiting to live their life only on the weekends?
Life is a series of choices. We all get to pick and choose how we want to live our lives. Me? I like (and prepared) to live free. And I rarely use the term 'retired/retiree/retirement' to describe myself.

Lorraine Watkins

Agree with you! Everything in life is what you make it. I had to retire early at 58 due to an inner ear disease. I grieved the loss of my management position, even though I was stressed most of the time, my ego liked something at work. Three years later I have found that I have been given a gift of self discovery which includes finding out what makes me tick. With many life experiences,illness, divorce, death of a child, second , marriage etc. I always seem to come out on the other side even if it is uncomfortable getting there! I put retiring in that group. In these past three years I became a Master Gardener, taught myself to knit, did some volunteer work, tried to work a different job which wasn't a good fit. I now substitute as a para educator 1 day a week and find that is enough for my ego. I am in charge when giving a spelling test to 1st graders and I can be kind and loving while doing that. Thanks for your blog!

Tamara R

What Lorraine said.

Can early retirement be boring? Of course, if that is what you choose to make it. Can it be fulfilling, exciting and any other positive adjective you care to assign? Absolutely. Again, it's a matter of what choices you make. Show me a bored retiree and I'll show you someone who is boring, period, retiree or not.

rjack

I retired early at 52 and it is awesome!! I've never been happier.

Bob Lowry

Like rjack I retired at 52 and my wife was 47. It has been the most liberating and creative 14 years of our lives so far. Stress? The only time you're free of stress is after your death which seems a poor tradeoff.

Mr. McDonald is drawing conclusions from small sample, self-selecting research and making generalizations...dangerous ground.

Rin Porter

I very much appreciate this conversation and the interesting studies that Syd linked to. I can learn a lot from them. I retired at 58, and still mourn (11 years later) for my job, which I loved. But I have found activities that are fulfilling, and have learned to slow down and smell the roses.

Retired To Win

I've had a two-fold "secret" to enjoying my retirement time since I pulled the trigger at 53, 14 years ago.

The first part of that "secret" is to PLAN for my fun, and not just wait for it to magically happen. And the second part is to make sure I actually MAKE TIME for my fun by blocking out and limiting my tasks time to 5 hours a day. The rest of the time, I have fun. (Like right now.)

Tamara R

Rin, was your retirement forced on you then? If so, I do think that is a different situation from most of the other commenters are describing, myself included, and would imagine that going through a mourning process would be a normal process of losing a job one loved.

Is there still a possibility of finding a way to replicate that job in a non-paying capacity? As a volunteer, in other words?

In my case, I replicate what I enjoyed about my job in my current volunteer activities. The difference, is I don't have to deal with the aspects of my job I didn't enjoy - the arbitrary deadlines, nerve racking annual reviews, and the year end setting of those dreaded SMART goals.

Retired Syd

Thanks for all your comments! And Retired to Win--I love your suggestion about blocking out time for fun. That is hard for many retirees, to say no to other things they think they should say yes to because, technically they have the time. I even block out time for no plans at all when I see my schedule getting too full!

Janis

If you have the desire, opportunity, and financial ability to retire - go for it! If you love your job and can't imagine leaving, then don't. You can find statistics to support just about any opinion and it sounds like Mr. McDonald found some dissatisfied retirees to support his. It's been just 9 months of freedom for me but, so far, I haven't looked back - not even just a little bit (and I really liked my job).

dgpcolorado

Like the others here, I don't buy the "unhappy retiree" scenario. Assuming that one has enough income to meet one's needs and not be financially stressed, being happy in retirement comes down to whether one has interests and hobbies that are engaging and fulfilling. If work is the be-all and end-all of one's life, then continuing to work might be the best course. But I think Tamara said it best: a bored retiree is a boring person to begin with.

Sixteen years after retiring early at age 45, I find my slate of volunteer work and hobbies a lot more fulfilling than I ever did my job. And the volunteer work solved the "guilt factor" of no longer being a productive member of society. With volunteer work I like that I can do it or not, as I please, when I please. I've made a difference in my neighborhood and community, which is a considerable source of satisfaction, and I get to work with others who are interesting people and who keep me from being socially isolated.

No regrets. I'd much rather do what I want rather than what I must. I've even been eagerly awaiting my next birthday because I will be eligible for the $10 lifetime National Parks Senior Pass and I live among some of the most spectacular National Parks in the country, such as Arches, Canyonlands, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

aw

Retirement is fantastic! I just retired in December and am adjusting to a new life. I'm sleeping better than I have in years. My former boss was a monster and it wasn't just mine opinion. My former coworkers call me up and complain about how they're his new target. Very sad for them, but wish they'd stop calling to complain. I like having my mind free from the stress caused by my old job. My advice to them is stay out of the way of crazy, smile and coast 'till they can get out. Sounds like the Gallup Poll confirms that most people are doing that now ("fewer than one-third of workers feel engaged at work, 68% are not engaged or are actively disengaged."). You never get that time back that you gave to your job. If the article author thinks that retirement sucks, then their life must suck regardless of whether they're working or not. Choose to be happy, like Syd!

Diane C

Hell, NO it doesn't suck! They're approaching this backwards. If they asked the same question(s) of a group of people who retired both because 1). they wanted to and 2). they had enough money to do so comfortably, the results would be eye-opening. There will always be people who won't plan/don't save/can't entertain themselves/don't enjoy the company of their spouse/can't build a meaningful life outside the structure of a "job", blah, blah, blah.

The Financial Industry probably gets more revenue from people who are still working, so THEY are the ones who don't want anyone to retire. Meh, if I step aside, that's one more job available for those who don't want to. Win-win, except I'm getting the better deal.

As to the "stress", being alive is stressful in and of itself. There's truth to the old saw that the only people without stress live at the cemetery. Especially if you are letting an external factor like a job steer your life.

It always makes me happy to see a new post from you, Syd. Thanks!

Margaret Abramshe

I have retired this summer at 55. I have not yet fully settled into retirement, I can see a wonderful, creative and fulfilling new life on the horizon. Loved you post. It is full of great information.

Retired Syd

Margaret: Welcome! And congratulations on your recent retirement.

deegee

For me retirement at 45 six years ago wasn't so much what I gained but what I lost. What I lost was the dang commute which I hated so much. Eliminating a big negative from my life is just as good as adding a positive.

After 16 years of full-time work and 7 more of part-time work, I had had enough the dang commute, even as little as 2 days a week. I had already built up a good life outside of work although trying to fit in the personal activities around the 2 working days was becoming more and more difficult. Something had to give, and it was the work

In bad weather, such as the extreme cold and lots of snow in the NYC area this winter, makes me more and more glad I don't have to deal with the commute on the trains even 2 days a week. I can stay nice and warm in my place and be glad I don't have to deal with the crap any more.

Caree Risover

I'm guessing most people don't like change, of whatever kind. I for one, however, can certainly advocate retirement. I didn't view it so much as change as taking from my pre-retirement life what I really liked, adding to it all the things I want to do and have never had time for and then: jumping headlong in.

fred doe

If you torture the data long enough it will tell you what you want to hear. Retirements are like figure prints. No two are the same.

Bob Clarke

I was working in a dying / downsizing industry with a 1 hr each-way commute near Boston. The accent was clearly on youth and I was turning into that weird, grumpy old guy don the hall that every office has.
Well, 2 years after putting that poisonous workplace in the rear view mirror and stepping on the gas, I can say I REALLY like retirement! Also, it is different than I expected.
I tried a bunch of different activities right after I retired -like a lot of other folks; dropped a bunch of them and added a few others. I have kept up my 6x a week gym routine to keep the old container working as long as possible.
Family relationships have changed a lot(some good, some bad, but that's life). With those family commitments now completed, we are thinking of ourselves first.
After 30 years in New England, we are tired of the cold, snow, and a too-big house, the planets have aligned. Our next "project" will be a move to the sunny southwest later this year. Over the years, we have found we love the desert and we need to make the move while we can still enjoy it. YMMV

Janette

As Bob C travels West, we have traveled East. It has taken me three years to settle down enough to enjoy retirement. Sometimes I get a bit shaky when thinking about money, but that is nothing like the pressure and stress of my professional life. I can sleep without nightmares.
I love to wake in the morning and just watch the colors of the sky. My day encompasses: walks with the dogs, chats with my husband, kids, grandkids, pulling up weeds from the walkway before they get too huge, and taking on volunteer work that I love.
Our lives are good. Retirement was the best thing that has happened us in a long time. Finally getting Social Security in a few years will be the extra to take all the rest of my shaky feelings away.

Fred Rig

I recently retired, reluctantly two years ago from a career on Wall Street after 32 years. My work environment had become extremely toxic and stressful due to changes in technology. I now do some light consulting work from home on a part time basis.
I am 54 and my wife, two years older also retired from a career as a Healthcare professional a few years ago, fortunately with a small pension.
At first, I must say that I was very scared but now, I have no regrets! I was always rather aggressive financially, saving bonuses, maxing out my 401k and my wife and I never spent above our means.
We have both gone on to pursue new interests, catching up on reading, online courses that interest us and travel which was virtually non existent due to working constraints.
I look forward to every day now! Thank you Syd for al of your insight on this blog.

Retired Syd

Bob and Fred: Welcome and thanks for your contributions to the conversation.

Jeanette: Looks like a few of your recent comments got caught in the spam filter. Sorry about that, I just liberated them all.

Sharon V.

- Interesting article we are in the final months before my husband retires at age 63. I will continue to work. I enjoy it and still want/need the income. The more I read and learn the more i think every stage is a reflection of the person going through it. If you are crabby before retirement you are probably crabby in retirement. Agree with the above posts that it is probably the financial institutions pushing the later retirements. Anxious to do as much as we can while we are still healthy.

Terry Delehanty

I recently retired at 60 and cannot adjust. While I'm financially secure, I'm one of those exceptions where my identity was linked to my job. Moving on but it's painful. Do your homework before taking the leap. My son gave me the book "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living" by Dale Carnegie. A great read.

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