Friday, April 1, 2016

Ah Blessed Retirement at Last!

I officially retired in September 2015. I know, it sounds incredible doesn’t it? And, it is. I will be forty-eight in July of this year. I began seriously thinking about retirement when I turned forty-three. I told a few people about my plan with mixed reactions. ‘You’re too young to retire,’ some said. Some reacted with disbelief, and others were well, I’m not really sure, but the overall sentiment was one of sarcasm and negativity about the whole thing.

I have my reasons for retirement, and none of them are health related. I began to look at my growing family and made the decision that they were more important than the hustle and bustle of career – not to mention the stress of responsibility that comes with careers.

I have three grandchildren on whom I dote relentlessly. They are the delight of my life. My newest granddaughter means the entire world to me at her tender age of 8 ½ months. We lost her older sister at birth in 2013, and that tore the core of my soul. It was then that the sub-conscious idea of retirement became a decision. Priorities that had been out of order for some time had come full-circle and the need to begin planning set in.

I began focusing heavily on debt reduction, even taking a second part-time job to expedite the process. It wasn’t the perfect road to retirement that I had planned, but in the end it all worked out. My main goal was not take a heavy debt-load into retirement with me.

So, I am officially retired from the nonprofit sector and consulting. I took a regular job that provides for healthcare, and supplements my income. Many people call it an encore career. I call it keeping my sanity. I go to work, do my job, and come home. I don’t take work home with me anymore. I don’t lay awake at night wondering what the next day will bring. I don’t worry about what other people think, and I don’t have to be careful about frenemies at work – they are all too young to be my friends. As a non-morning person, I took a job that allows me to sleep in and stay up late.

I am no longer tied to a cellphone, email and all the other tethers of modern careers. I enjoy what I do, even on hectic days. I am not responsible for creating reports and justifying budgets. I am not responsible for other people, or their actions. I am not responsible for anything except my part and my work.

The shift in my priorities has created a whole new world for me. I can do as I please, and spend copious amounts of time with my family. I can go places that I have always wanted to go, but never seemed to have the time.

There is a sense of freedom, even with the job. As a nonprofit professional, and those who are will know exactly what I’m talking about, one tends to get themselves emotionally entangled in their career, and then one day the line is completely blurred between what is work and what is life. I had to keep reminding myself that my job did not define who I was. That got harder and harder as the years went on. I know many professionals, men and women, who worked in the upper-echelon of the for-profit world and found themselves in the same predicament. They too opted for retirement from the stress-filled world of management, and some of them have also started encore careers.

I tried a few jobs that just weren’t right for me. My mistake was that I hadn’t considered that those jobs were also in the nonprofit sector. I’m not bashing the nonprofits. They are important and do good work, but the point is that I was trying to retire from the very thing I kept going back to.

I also have more time to write. I am working on the two books that are half finished. My retirement allows me to focus – wholly – on my writing. When I come home from work, I am not mentally drained as I was in the past.

I learned an important lesson in all of this:

Know when it’s time to move on, and then move on. 
Age has nothing to do with it!

Sometimes we all need a break. I will return to blogging regularly on Sunday.