After working for 35 years, I recently (at the end of January 2006) retired. Actually I was laid off, and that made my decision to retire slightly early a very easy decision. During the last 10 months, I have really enjoyed my retirement. As a matter of fact, I found that this past year since retirement is probably one of the best years of my life.
If one can satisfy the requirements of good health and financial stability, then retirement provides a golden opportunity for rebirth. By that, I mean that one can do the many things that one really enjoys doing, but never found enough time to do before. Of course, what one enjoys doing varies with the individual.
To illustrate, I will use my own retirement as an example. From a young boy, I had always been interested in martial arts, but I never had the luxury, in terms of time and money, to participate extensively in those activities. Although I started learning Taiji in early 1998 and continued to take lessons up to my retirement, I was never able to find enough time to practice it extensively on a regular basis. Retirement changed all of that. I am now able to take multiple lessons from several different masters, and besides the time spent during the lessons, I also practice it several other times a week.
Another interest of mine is soccer. I coached youth soccer for about 10 years, and for several years I coached two different teams. While I was coaching, I identified and formulated a lot of mental concepts that I thought were useful for the players, parents, and even coaches to know. I researched the libraries and bookstores, but I wasn’t able to find a single book that focused on those mental concepts. So I decided to write a book on such a subject. Even though back in 1993, I already developed a detailed outline and knew what I wanted to write in each chapter, in the 12 years from 1993 to 2005, I wrote only one and a half pages, mostly due to the lack of time. After I retired, I immediately sat down and started writing that book. That book has since been published (see the Soccer Page of this website).
Until retirement, I never found the time to do any extensive reading (especially when I am a slow reader). Since retirement, I have read many books covering a variety of subjects. Retirement also allows me to take courses, such as Creating Writing and Yoga, in the local community college. Creating Writing courses will be a tremendous help to me as I plan to write additional books. Yoga courses will help me to increase my flexibility and so benefit my Taiji/martial arts activities.
A great joy of retirement is that it allows me to spend time and enjoy the time spent with my granddaughter. It is not just that I can now spend more time with her, but the quality of the time spent together and the enjoyment from it are much higher, because I don’t have to worry about the time lost on my professional activities. Once one has a different mindset, one’s outlook on life can be completely different.
As mentioned at the beginning, all of the opportunities from retirement are based on two prerequisites: Good health and financial stability. Thus it makes it even more important that an activity one should develop an interest and engage in both before and after retirement is health enhancing exercises. If one’s financial situation allows it, one should maximize the contributions to his/her 401K plan so that there will be a sufficient nest egg on retirement. If a sufficient nest egg is not available, then one can also supplement that with income from a part-time job.
In retrospect, my being laid off at the beginning of this year was definitely a blessing in disguise.