Have the Courage to Retire!

Photo used with permission from Vivian Spathopoulos

Have the Courage to Retire!

“Don’t think of retiring from the world until the world will be sorry that you retire. I hate a fellow whom pride or cowardice or laziness drive into a corner, and who does nothing when he is there but sit and growl. Let him come out as I do, and bark.”

–Samuel Johnson

I’ve been surprised at how many people my age are reluctant to retire.  Some of the reasons for continuing to work that I’ve heard include, “I don’t know what I’d do all day.”  Or “I enjoy my job.”  Or “I’d miss my friends at work.”  Or “I’m too healthy to retire.”  The list of reasons is endless.

Why is retiring such a difficult decision? Other than real financial constraints, we may resist retiring because of fear.  We all know that change is difficult and many of us resist what we aren’t familiar with.  We fear what we don’t know.  But I’m delighted to tell you that retirement can be a wonderful time for happiness and growth in your life.  It all depends on your courage to open that gate!  I am choosing the “gate” image instead of the usual “door” because for me, doors are something that we can choose to close to stay safe while gates make me think of new possibilities on the other side.  Yes, opening the gate to retirement is scary but I believe that you already have the courage to take that step.  Life is full of transitions and look at the courage you’ve demonstrated already!

  • You made it up those steps of the big, yellow school bus on your first day of school, proving that you can you can do things for the first time.
  • You left your family to embark on adulthood, proving that you can survive independence.
  • You started and left jobs, proving that you know what you have to offer the world.
  • You created relationships, proving that you can love others.
  • You may have children or pets, proving that you can nurture and protect others.

Most of our life transitions require an adjustment in how we think about ourselves.  I’d like to suggest a few ideas for a retirement attitude adjustment:

  1. “Every day is a vacation.” My father actually said this after he retired and I’ve never forgotten it.  You can do what you enjoy every day and stop doing what you don’t enjoy. When I was in my fifties, I told myself that I wanted to read all the books I didn’t have time for after I retired.  I’m doing exactly that and I get to talk about them in my book clubs!
  2. I can’t stop the world’s suffering but I can appreciate the world’s beauty every moment of every day.  I now have the time and the emotional calm to notice and acknowledge the beauty of each moment.  I’m learning each day what makes me happy and it isn’t the accumulation of “stuff.”
  3. I’m developing new values to guide my experience. Instead of recognition, achievement, and success, I’m jazzed about expression, beauty, and fun.
  4. Instead of goals and objectives for the future, I’m living in the present. I’m learning to let go of the hurt and fears from the past and be grateful for each moment I have now of love and discovery.

A couple of years ago, Tom Sightings (https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/on-retirement/2015/07/06/12-great-things-about-retirement) presented findings from a U.S. News and World Report survey of what retirees said they liked most about their lives.  These fascinating responses, many of which resonate with mine, are below:

  1. I’m free of the drug of ambition.
  2. I can catch up on movies I’ve always wanted to see.
  3. I keep up on current TV programs..
  4. I joined a book club. 
  5. I can still work part-time.
  6. I babysit my grandchildren. 
  7. There’s time to give back.
  8. Travel, travel, travel.
  9. I have the time to do nothing.
  10. I’m living my dream.
  11. There’s no pressure, no stress and no problems.
  12. I do what I want to do, instead of what other people want me to do.

So, what are you waiting for?  Have the courage to retire!  Hope you enjoy the poem below:

On Myselfe 

by Anne Kingsmill Finch

 Good Heav’n, I thank thee, since it was design’d
I shou’d be fram’d, but of the weaker kinde,
That yet, my Soul, is rescu’d from the Love
Of all those Trifles, which their Passions move.
Pleasures, and Praise, and Plenty haue with me
But their just value. If allow’d they be,
Freely, and thankfully as much I tast,
As will not reason, or Religion wast.
If they’re deny’d, I on my selfe can Liue,
And slight those aids, unequal chance does give.
When in the Sun, my wings can be display’d,
And in retirement, I can bless the shade.



    1. I agree completely. Yesterday, while I was facilitating a mindfulness class, I was reminded of how awesome connection with other humans can be. There are opportunities for joy in every moment!

      Liked by 1 person

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