Retirement Surprises: Most Good, Others Not So Much! Part II

Last week’s blog post was about Good Surprises Wall Street Journal readers recently reported having in retirement. In this week’s post I planned to list some of the Bad Surprises which have been experienced. But actually the good outweighed the bad by a wide margin, so I want to stay positive and list some more Good Surprises.

GOOD SURPRISES

  • Several readers commented on the luxury of time and the lack of pressure. After forty years in the workplace, they believe that it’s okay to be bored occasionally. It is okay “to chill”. “Active” isn’t mandatory at all times. “Unhurried” is fine. And from time to time it is perfectly okay to waste an entire morning.
  • A couple of readers reported their surprise at how quickly and easily they left their careers behind and transitioned into retirement. “While I liked work, I love retirement!” They expected to experience an adjustment period, but several mentioned the seamless transition, which they experienced. Many listed everything that keeps them busy. I liked this list from one reader, it resembles mine. “I sleep better and longer, exercise more, read more, spend more time with my wife (she agrees that’s a good thing), and actually think more now that I have fewer distractions.
  • One couple indicated that they surprised themselves by opting to retire at the age of 51. And it turned out to be a wonderful gift. In their words, they elected to live on less income for the bonus of more time together. Their admonishment; don’t wait until it’s too late.
  • A woman reported that her best, and most unexpected surprise was the control she gained over her time and her life. She was no longer controlled by her boss, her clients or her children. For the first time, her life was no longer a blur. She enjoys managing her schedule, including her volunteering, her projects, and even her housekeeping.
  • A single woman from Rhode Island lives alone with no relatives nearby. As a result she delayed her retirement beyond her 73rd birthday because she feared becoming isolated and forgotten. Two years later she is happy to report her surprise. She loves being alone, owning the day, and having no required daily contact with other people. She claims to be a gregarious woman who had a career in sales and loved to cook and entertain!
  • A retired doctor from South Carolina says after taking a year off to decompress and contemplate his future, he found his new direction. He enrolled in a two year executive M.B.A. program at a nearby university. Upon graduating he joined the faculty and taught for ten years in the Healthcare Management Program.
  • Surprisingly only one reader wrote of their relocation. A southern California couple relocated to rural Oregon and indicated it was their best decision ever. Imagine the cost savings. In addition, they are working hard on the grapes they grow and sell to the local wine industry. And ‘yes’, they also make enough wine for themselves!
  • An Illinois reader simply reported his good surprises as: 1. stress level dropped more than expected, 2. can easily fill each day; and 3.  significantly improved physical conditioning. In fact, he trained for and completed a cross country bicycle ride, camping on the way.
  • Another reader received retirement advice that “nothing is ever what you think it is going to be going into it.” That’s true for a new job, a marriage, a divorce, almost every significant life event. His adviser said you must feel your way through it at first. And so it is with retirement. The reader spoke of his surprise to find this to be true. In his words, “retirement ain’t nothing like I thought it would be. But it’s pretty great!”
  • A reader from Arizona commented on her “attitude” change. She says she is thrilled with retirement, and all of the things she is able to do that she couldn’t while she was working full-time. She lets small things slide acknowledging that they aren’t very important, and probably never were.

And from a WSJ reader in San Francisco, don’t look back once you have made the decision to retire. Take full advantage of the time retirement provides and the many new opportunities awaiting you in retirement. It will be important to approach each day in this phase of your life with enthusiasm, energy and openness.

And finally, if you think you have the financial resources and are debating whether to retire, go for it in spite of what others might say. The tools are there for anyone needing help creating his/her own Lemonade Retirement. But lost time can never be recaptured!