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Submitted by: Patricia Bubash, M.Ed., Licensed Professional Counselor

retirement and change microsoft clipartJust last week, I was asked to give a presentation for middle school parents:  a morning coffee hour.  The topic that I had been given to speak on was “change”.   I did not immediately begin outlining my talk with thoughts of change in the lives of rambunctious 13 and 14 year olds and their parents.   Being a bit of a narcissist, I immediately thought of myself.  I was thinking of the latest and most challenging change for me:  leaving the working world for retirement. I have not yet found a comfort level with the word “retired,” I prefer “reinventing.”

As I prepared for what I was going to say to these middle school parents, I decided I wanted to begin with a definition for the word change.  According to the Longman Dictionary of American English, change means to make or become different.

I have certainly found this new phase of my life a case of becoming different. I no longer have to rush in the mornings to get to work. I no longer have to think (the night before) about what I will be wearing to work. I no longer have to wonder if the car has enough gas to get me to work the next morning nor do long range planning for the week’s meals.  Many of these tasks, which were part of being organized in order to get to my workplace every morning, are no longer needed.  And, without a doubt, these are things that I don’t miss.  I like the change in my current routine.

However, I do miss the camaraderie that is part of the work place. Having a daily connection with the same people, we tend to learn about each other’s families:  what sports the kids are playing, the headaches of parenting a teenager, the girl or boy leaving for college, the grandson (or granddaughter) who scored the winning home run, as well as share the worry of ailing parents.  These are events that when shared become connectors among colleagues.  Notice how common it is to hear employers and workers refer to themselves as a family.

What I hear from most retired i.e. “reinvented” people is that once they leave their work environment, these personal connections seem to fade away or even disconnect entirely. As the time between working and retiring lengthens, there is less to share with those left behind.  We find that we no longer go to the office parties when invited nor drop in to say “hello” as we go to lunch on our own.

pressed for timeWhen we do make an unscheduled appearance, our colleagues voice the opinion, “Wow, it must be nice to have a two hour lunch, no punching the clock.”   And, in the beginning, we agree.

Sometimes we wish we were back with the 30-minute lunch crowd – if only for a day!

I have had days when I really miss that structured setting, the work friends, and even those colleagues who got on my last nerve.  But, as the time increases between retirement and reinventing, I am finding this change feels more comfortable.  I enjoy leisurely getting into my day and tend to resent the days when I schedule an early activity or appointment which forces me to get into the outside world earlier than usual.  I appreciate having time to go visit my aging parents or simply just the leisure of choosing how I am going to spend my day.

Retirement has been a real change for me, and I am grateful that situations allowed me to transition first from working part-time and then to working no time.  It was funny that sometimes I found my one-day a week job was interfering with plans for the rest of the week!

change and retirementMost of us probably had parents who, like my dad, see worth equated with work. At 85 years old, he was still working part-time!   For me, it has been a change in my thinking to value time spent volunteering, having lunch with friends, or simply spending a day reading a book or learning a new skill (kudos to my patient friend who is trying to teach me to knit).

Different, for me, is learning to see the worth in being active without the monetary value but with the delight of doing something “different.”   Change is good.

See more:

Please visit Patricia Bubash’s site at www.successfulsecondmarriages.com.

Read more about reinventing retirement in How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom That You Won’t Get From Your Financial Advisor or “Reimagine Your Life” with AARP. 

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