Retirement: The First Year

In my last post (Working after Retirement) I discussed the options available to you if you wish to work after retirement.  In this post (since I am on a retirement talk kick), I will discuss that first year of retirement.  By the time your first day of retirement begins, you should already be set.  That means you have your pension, CDs, Social Security (if age 62 or older) and hospital insurance if you not yet qualified for Medicare.  If you have not prepared, then you will find yourself in the middle of the Aesop's Fables;  The Ant and the Grasshopper.  If you are not prepared for retirement, I'll give you one guess who is the grasshopper.  But, let's think positive and assume you are ready for retirement.  The first week is going to be a bit enlightening to you.  In some ways, it reminds me of when I got out of high school.  I felt lost not having to go to school.  Not having to get up early to get ready for work is a welcome delight.  Taking that long awaited vacation to Hawaii, a cruise along the Alaskan shore, or wherever you want to go, it's there for you.  If you fish or hunt, you no longer have to worry about showing up for work.  You have time to spend with old friends and with family.  But, eventually, everything seemed to get old.  At least that is the way it was with me. 

There were times during my first year of retirement, I wondered what was I going to do with myself?  Sleeping in late gets old (which is about 6;30AM for this early bird).  You quickly discover there is not much to watch on TV during the day.  There is a modern, newly built Senior Center nearby.  I only know three people that go to that center.  I don't care for any of the three.  It got depressing to see so many old, lonely people there.  I did not want to wind up like them.  For many, this was the highlight of their week.  That first year of retirement, you start to wonder if you made the right decision to retire.  I found myself longing to go back to work after about six months of this "retirement."  In fact, I did inquire about doing just that.  I was told by Human Resources if I did come back (I got the feeling I wasn't the first to inquire about coming out of retirement), I would have to pay back all my retirement pay, some six months worth.  I'd be making about half of what I was making in retirement. So, that wasn't an option for me. To make matters worse, my wife (ex-wife now) and I started having real problems.  Problems that later led to divorce (as if life wasn't testing me enough). I started to feel sorry for myself.  I was retired, disillusioned, bored out of my mind, and on the verge of a divorce.

My wife and I separated during that first year of retirement.  I don't see how things could have gotten much worse.  I moved back to my hometown and found a place to live.  It was a lonely, unhappy existence.  Nine months after retirement, you'd think I would be enjoying myself.  That certainly wasn't the case with me.  After feeling sorry for myself for a period of time, I picked myself up, brushed myself off and decided I could either "...get busy living or get busy dying."  So, after encouragement from an old friend, I started helping him with his computer business.  I eventually branched off from him and started doing computer maintenance on my own.  I started getting enough customers to keep myself busy.  I also started to go back to my first love, during that first year of retirement, and that was writing.  After much soul searching and doubt, I got my novel published in October of last year in ebook format.  I've enjoyed modest success thus far.  But, my goal was to become a published author.  I accomplished that goal.  

Now, I'm not suggesting everyone will have as tough a year after retirement as I had.  Most people will fly by in that first year.  But, you will find that if you don't keep yourself busy after you retire, monotony will set in fast.  That can lead to problems.  It's funny in a way.  I planned precisely to be financially set during my retirement.  But, I did not plan on exactly what I was going to do with myself after retirement.  That is probably the reason I had such a tough time my first year after retirement.  I won't say that retirement was the major cause of my divorce.  But, spending so much time together did present problems.  I didn't expect that.  The first year after retirement can be as easy as you make it.  But, take my advice; if you are heading for retirement, make sure you also plan on how you are going to spend the rest of your life.  Find something you have always enjoyed doing and do it.  You don't know it now, but that is the best advice you will get for that first year of retirement.

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