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June 28, 2013


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A tradeoff, Syd? Hardly an equal one or anything close to it. It is like trading in a PC for an abacus on the spectrum of complexity. For me, I gave up only lousy things I could not stand any longer for only good things in return I enjoy every day. I would never, EVER undo such a trade.



Beautifully expressed, as always, and I can certainly relate. I just had my 1 year "retirement anniversary", and I am still struggling to find my footing.

Your narrative reminds me that I am not alone with this.


fred doe

Retirement only solves 50% of your problems. Once and awhile I set the alarm just to make sure it still works. Syd you don't give yourself performance evaluations? I used to give myself four a year but I only do it twice a year now because the company found it wasn't cost effective:) ( I got a thousand dollar bonus in Jan. but I didn't tell the others:) But I digress. Yes the sin of sloth is on my back like a monkey and dam it I'm going to address it next week! But sitting in front of the TV is not for me now that I've been out for five years I hate it I mean HATE IT!!!! I'd bust it up with my sledge hammer but I'm not sure if there's a law against it:) Now I bid you Adioeu ( I'm thinkin bout takin French)

Mary Carlson

You are not alone. Much of what I've read suggests that it takes some time to let go of the work world. For me a lot was the guilt as Syd stated.

I just had my 2nd year retirement anniversary and have been struggling to find meaningful activities to fill my day.

After reading your article it 'clicked', I was looking for things that society might define as meaningful rather then what I defined as meaningful to me. I love being outside in my gardens working alone but felt guilty that I wasn't doing something more meaningful for social good, not anymore. Thank you. The social good may come later, for now I am going to ENJOY working in my gardens and contemplating life.


Yeah for Mary, it sounds like she got it! After about two years of searching and building my post-employment life (i.e., retirement!), I finally understand that life is about following one's passions, whatever they might be, not about living up to vague societal expectations. I used to feel the need to apologize for my 'good luck' and to justify what I did with my time. Not any more! I love my life, and as long as I follow the rules with regard to what works for me, it's all good.

Cathy Severson

Retirement for the individual is much like it is for the couple. You can run, but you can't hide. While working, it can be much easier to ignore 'issues' and pretend they don't exist. The busier the schedule, the easier it is to just buckle down and do what needs to get done. Along comes retirement and you're faced with the person in the mirror. Some people fill their retirement time with a whirlwind of activity, but in the end, you still have to come to terms with who you are and make peace with that person. To me, that's the ultimate opportunity and challenge of retirement.

Janet Shaw

Thanks! I have struggle to find activities that are fulfilling. I guess, I'm not alone in my struggle. That's a good feeling. Thanks!


Syd--I have read every one of your posts since the beginning of your blog. I have plugged my numbers into a dozen financial calculators and spoken to "my numbers guy" several times. I have gotten approval from the spouse.

I have six working days left. I'm a physician, and I am dumping my clinic after 19 years there (27 years total in medicine) at age 49.

I have so many plans it's scary, so I can't imagine being bored. I have already cut back to part-time for the past six months and still find work in the way. I am going to write novels--a medical thriller is in my Mac now--as if it was another job; I'm headed to the big glorious library every weekday from 0900 to 1500, and then home for supper with my wife. I'm serious about being published, although unless I strike a bestseller (hey, someone has to, might was well be me, right?), I almost certainly gave up a job that pays much more than my writing. Many figures with zeros behind them--poof, gone (but not forgotten). lol

Your blog made a BIG difference to me. You describe what it feels like to drop the day job. All the things you describe in the post above. You detailed your journey as you did it (I have to admit, I gulped hard when you went back to work though...lol). Thank you, Syd. Steve


Thanks Sydney... Wise words for sure. I think just as some people struggle with boredom during retirement while others do not, some people struggle with the word 'passion.' How do people find their passion when they just feel... Well, content? Contentment is undervalued and misunderstood in my opinion. Nothing wrong with it. But as humans there is an allure to living with the struggle. If we can get passed that, we can sink in and learn to appreciate our circumstances even more. Starts with feeling worthy as individuals, I beleieve. If we feel our life has value, regardless of whether we are saving the planet or changing the world, then we can learn to 'just be.' At least, this is the topic I've been exploring since I retired a year and a half ago. Thanks for being a beacon in the distance for those of us who are finding our way.

Diane C

Oh Syd, thanks for this post! I retired in December. Some days, I get absolutely nothing done. I don't even try! I have been feeling terrible about this, but maybe it is just part of the adjustment process. I mean, how slothful can I really be if I retired early w/o a pension?

I do notice that when I have something I Must Do, the energy is there. Last week, I worked four 18+ hour days completing my MIL's Estate Sale. Then I came home and slept the better part of two days. Thanks for holding a light up and showing me there is hope.


Syd, this post arrived at exactly the right time for me. I'm two weeks into my early retirement/sabbatical/new career, and I'm struggling with feelings of guilt at being so unproductive! And yet a friend reminded me that I'm genetically incapable of being truly unproductive. Not that productivity should even matter, but old habits die hard.

Thank you for reminding me that every life stage contains challenges to handle. Luckily, my challenges now are so much more pleasant than the ones I dealt with when I had a day job!

Arties Lionel Trains

I keep myself busy with my Lionel Trains. I was fortunate to retire many years ago at an earlier age. Things get tight but we manage. I get pretty engrossed in model trains and it's been my passion for as long as I can remember. It also keeps me pretty busy. After reading a lot of blogs I just recently decided to start my own -- on Yes - Lionel Trains. :-) For me this was always a big part of my identity and always will be so I've been fortunate in that way.


I like that Arties.


We interrupt this fantasy to introduce
reality. That's good stuff Syd.


Syd? You dar?

Retired Syd

Sven: Good question! I wrote a comment a few days ago saying how wonderful all these comments have been, but I guess I never hit the "post" button! I think my retirement-onset-ADD might be striking again. . .

First, I love Mary's AHA! She's definitely on to something. I guess when we're working, we're so used to performing to our employer's expectations that it's hard to shift to stop living to others' expectations even in retirement.

Cathy: That reminds me of the wise fred doe's comment that no matter where you go you're always there.

Steve: Sounds to me like you're going to suffer from the other problem: still not having enough hours in day even in retirement. I so admire your plans to write a book--I'd love to do that but I have no idea how to approach a project of that magnitude! Congratulations on that and the retirement--it also sounds like enough of those zeros landed in your retirement accounts to make it work. Thanks for the nice words.

Angela: I think contentment is WAY undervalued. My husband Doug had none of these issues adjusting to retirement. I think it's because he's always had a great relationship with contentment. He doesn't suffer from that ailment of making life harder than it needs to be like many of the rest of us do.

Diane (and Grace): Getting nothing done some days is part of life, feeling terrible about it is just part of the adjustment process, like you said. There will come a time when you learn to stop feeling terrible about it and just realize you're doing what you need to do right now. You've earned it!

Artie: A totally engaging hobby AND a blog--I think you're covered for the time being!

Try New Things

I like how you say we have to carve out a new identity in retirement. I am 10 months in now and still working on that. That vague feeling of anxiety that came from not having to get up early and rush into work is less frequent now so I know I am settling in.

And being retired is busy and amazing and getting more so as I settle in.


Today is my last work day. Your information and comments are encouraging and instructive. Your insight is comforting. Keep posting.

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