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~Saturday~ I'm close enough to retiring now, that I'm tracking the days—37 calendars days, 26 business days. It'll all culminate on my 57th birthday, on October 13, 2014.

It's kind of mind-boggling to be self-aware of so few actual working days left in a career that has spanned 34.5 years. Well, that actually included a year off (attempting to write a novel), so technically it's 33.5 years, I suppose.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. When someone tells you they're going to retire, "What are you going to do?" is not what they want to hear. For your convenience, here are some suggested alternatives:

  • Congratulations!

  • That is so great! You must be so excited!

  • Won't it be great to just be?

In addition to "What are you going to do?" here are a few other things that you might want to reconsider saying:

  • Aren't you going to get bored? (This is unoriginal and uninformed, and in many cases, probably projection.)

  • You can't just do nothing! (Actually, I can just do nothing, if I want to.)

  • I don't think I'll ever get to retire. (Makes it about you.)

  • I won't be able to retire until I'm 65 or 70. (Makes it more, specifically, about you.)

  • You can retire early, because you don't have kids. (Makes it about you, and the trade-off resulting from the choices you've made.)

The thing is, no one really knows how they're going to react to the things they are—or are not—going to do in retirement.

I've spoken to several different people now who are in various stages of retirement (i.e., recently, a year out, several years out), and everyone is handling it differently. And everyone has found that some things are how they thought they'd be, and some things are different than they thought they'd be. Imagine that. Just like real life.

There is a lot of pressure from our (American) society to feel "productive," or to do something "meaningful"—even in retirement it seems. I'm going to do my best to not be driven by those expectations, but I'm also open to the possibility that they'll come back to bite me.

I have a long list of things I want to do, at a slow pace (and that part is key) when I'm retired and just have the luxury of time. Once an item is done, I'm not sure if I will have felt "productive" in retrospect doing it, or if it will have provided "meaning" to my life, but that's for me to sort out.

Here is a list of the things to do that I've captured so far:

  • Emotional/intellectual activity

    • Continue to meet monthly with my Mostly Social Book Club

    • Continue to meet monthly with my Salon group

    • Continue my volunteer work as a member of the board of directors of Manbites Dog Theater

    • Continue my volunteer work as a member of the board of directors of my townhouse's homeowners' association

    • Continue my weekly line-dancing and two-stepping night (for as long as my knees will permit)

    • Participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which is the month of November)

    • Write for at least two hours a day

    • Create greetings cards

    • Write an entry for McSweeney's and submit it

    • Create a personal YouTube video pun channel and create more video puns, like this one

    • Create a DIY: calendar journal on 3x5 index cards

    • Socialize on Facebook

    • Do crossword puzzles

    • Participate in Lumosity's Human Cognition Project for at least 15 minutes a day

    • Read lots of books (lying in my hammock on my deck, whenever the weather is agreeable)

    • Spend more time with Bob and Frances and Vincent

    • Actually get 8 hours of sleep regularly

  • Physical activity

    • Go to the gym (or do some other equivalent exercise) 1-1.5 hours 5-6 days a week (Quit laughing. I can dream!)

    • Maybe, slowly, start riding my bike again—in the fall, assuming it finally cools down

  • Computer/online

    • Get one of my printers working

    • Restore original OS to old workstation or wipe it clean, and take it to the electronics recycle center

    • Dispose of my old Think Pad

    • Unpack the "My Documents" folder on my new workstation

    • Sync my iTunes account to the cloud

    • Configure my iPod to sync for only certain music

    • Scan in all my found writing

    • Go through online (and printed) pictures and organize them

    • Move all MDT agendas and minutes to Google drive

    • Update my identity inventory

    • Move my "professional portfolio" to my WordPress site

    • Complete the conversion of my personal website to WordPress

    • Pick an app as a feed reader and set up some feeds

  • Around the house

    • Cook more at home

    • Go through 2 cassette tapes to see if there's anything to save from them

    • Go through 5 VHS tapes to see what I want to keep

    • Hang up my master's degree diploma

    • Organize all of my MBTI materials into one 3-ring binder

    • Paint my guest bedroom, and maybe my master bedroom

    • Replace quarter-rounds in my downstairs bathroom

    • Clean out and organize kitchen cabinets

    • Clean out and organize guest room closet

    • Clean out and organize master bedroom closet

    • Clean out and organize linen closet

    • Clean out and organize entrance hall closet

    • Clean out and organize filing cabinet

    • Clean out and organize storage shed

  • Travel

    • Considering a month-long RV trip around the U.S., visiting various people that Bob and I know

So, those are the things that are currently on my radar. I'm also not opposed to eventually doing a little freelance editing work, which is a distinct possibility from the great employer I'm working for until October 13. I'm thinking a little extra bourbon money can always come in handy.



( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 6th, 2014 04:12 pm (UTC)
Congratulations, again, on your impending retirement! I'm very, very excited for you!

I recently ran across this article that talks about some of the misconceptions people have of those who are retired -- namely that they'll never "work" anymore. Don't let the IRP get you down!

And I do hope you will consider Seattle on your list of places to tour on your RV trip, I would love to see you and introduce you to Daniel. And yes, this part is really all about (mini-) me!
Sep. 6th, 2014 04:22 pm (UTC)
Thank-you, my friend!
I look forward to reading that article, and Seattle has made the first cut of our potential route; although, at almost 7,000 miles, we're going to have to rethink it! :-)

Thanks for reading, commenting, and your good wishes.
Sep. 6th, 2014 07:11 pm (UTC)
I know no one will "do" retirement better than you! 😊
Steve H.
Sep. 7th, 2014 02:56 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Steve!
Sep. 6th, 2014 09:52 pm (UTC)
Come visit beautiful Pennsylvania!
Sep. 7th, 2014 02:56 pm (UTC)
Yay, another pin on the map! :-)
Sep. 7th, 2014 01:39 am (UTC)
Mazel tov!
John, mazel tov on your imminent retirement! Fun to see your plans so far, especially the part about your plan to write for at least a couple of hours a day.

Pat has been retired for seven years and has been thriving. For example, who knew she'd learn how to be a beekeeper?

I'm confident you're in for pleasant surprises, too.
Sep. 7th, 2014 02:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Sarah!
And thanks for sharing Pat's experience. She's my new retirement idol. :-)
Sep. 7th, 2014 01:42 am (UTC)
Mazel tov!
Oops. Didn't mean for my prior comment to be anonymous.
Sep. 7th, 2014 01:55 pm (UTC)
I laugh and feel a bit sad when, during any "what would you do if you were to win the lottery?" conversation, people say to me, "You mean you wouldn't work? I would be so bored!"

Jeez. If the only thing you could think to do, given the world of options, is go to work every day, you need to get out more. I could think of dozens of things to fill my time if I didn't have to think about maintaining my main source of income.

Congrats to you, my friend, on your upcoming liberty!
Sep. 7th, 2014 02:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks, my friend!
That reminds me of another great answer, "Oh, I am so much more than my job." :-)
Sep. 7th, 2014 04:18 pm (UTC)
John, I LOVE your perspective! I am in awe of your lists,
And wish you so much joy in your new 'chapter'.
Never stop growing!!
Sep. 7th, 2014 04:41 pm (UTC)
Was that from Mary Rossini?
Sep. 8th, 2014 08:09 am (UTC)
I think you're spot-on with the comment about "projection". I also think "What are you going to DO?" comes from people who've become so invested in career-as-validation that there's nothing else to validate them.

Then there's flip side -- "You get to retire because you don't have children." No, he gets to retire because he planned to retire.

That said, come to Austin!
Sep. 8th, 2014 02:39 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much, Julie!
Oct. 13th, 2014 08:10 pm (UTC)
C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S ! ! !
When you get that RV and plan your trip, I sure hope you'll stop and visit us in Holly Springs.
Oct. 13th, 2014 08:30 pm (UTC)
Oct. 13th, 2014 09:08 pm (UTC)
Happy Birthday, Retirement Celebration, and Canadian Thanksgiving to BOOT!
John— No one deserves THREE celebrations in one day more than you do! I'm proud to call you my friend and just about cried reading your list of post-retirement plans. Longer than my pre-retirement plans!!! Wishing you all the activity and adventure you deserve to enjoy "post-work." Much love, Brad.
Oct. 13th, 2014 09:19 pm (UTC)
Thank you, my dear friend!
Oct. 14th, 2014 12:24 am (UTC)
We are so happy for you! The day has come--let the fun begin (really, let it continue!!!). But after reading your list.... You may need to take a break from all this retirement work! ;) just take one day at a time (because you CAN!), have lots of fun, lots of hammock time, and enjoy being with those who make you feel good. You deserve it all. Cheers to you, my friend!!

Heloisa, Nate, John & Kika, Lila, Pepa
Oct. 14th, 2014 02:55 am (UTC)
Thank you, my dear friends!
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )



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