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My retirement

August 2004
 by Geoff Osborne     

My Retirement 

Geoff Osborne  is a 60 year-old retired Managing Consultant. He is a widower with two grown-up children (31 and 27) and lives in Berkshire. Here he tells how he adjusted to his new life.

I had no grand ambition in retirement – I didn’t want to plant a vineyard, buy my local pub or sail round the world.

I viewed retirement with a mixture of trepidation and relief. ‘Trepidation’ because I wondered how I would fill my time (although friends assured me that very soon I’d wonder how I ever found time for work) and ‘relief’ because I felt I had served my time - 38 years, many of them spent in senior positions, with a multinational IT Services company.

 

My first stab at retirement came in 2002, as part of a corporate redundancy programme. I volunteered for redundancy, only to be refused – much to my surprise.

It was then that I started to plan my retirement.

I talked to a lot of people, and perhaps the best advice I received was to view retirement as my next job. True, it wouldn’t pay so well as my current one, but it had the huge advantage that I got to write my own job description.

And this I did – including on it a course of practical study, a course of academic study, voluntary work, keeping fit, extending a number of hobbies that I’d not previously had enough time for (eg golf), watching more sport, becoming more sociable, doing the garden and DIY projects, putting my financial affairs on a more stable footing, starting some new hobbies (e.g. digital photography), and just a little work.

 Now, one year into retirement – I finally left in 2003 -  I can’t claim to have done all of these, but I have done some, and the exercise was very enlightening.

Recently a friend brought to my attention the 3*3 grid approach of Susan Jeffers in Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway which essentially advises that you have a range of pastimes rather than depending, as some people do, on just one or two.

Plotting my main pastimes on to such a grid showed me that, in retirement, I’d generated three new ones and amplified six others that I’d never had enough time for before.  

I get slightly irritated when I meet people who say ‘but what do you do all day?’ (my reply, incidentally, is ‘whatever I like’). I’m told that in Italy when someone retires they are generally asked if their hammock is sound and their cellar well stocked. But being time-rich does take time to adjust to. No longer do you need to rush around on Saturday and Sunday – the weekend is seven days long!

I’d been warned that retirement could bring about loss of self-esteem because you weren’t doing a ‘valuable’ job any more,  and another setback would be the lack of sufficient intellectual stimulation and the reduction in social contact.

 

It’s certainly true that work had become my ‘comfort zone’ and leaving would present difficulties. But recognizing this and tackling it meant that the ‘relief’ factor – less stress, being time-rich and doing what I choose to do  – far outweighed the negative aspects.  

One year on, I have the balance between physical, mental, social and spiritual activities that my new course of study in Psychology recommends. My kids tell me that I’m more relaxed and are relieved that I’m not pestering them all the time (in fact, they claim that they have to make an appointment to see me!). My voluntary work is very fulfilling. I’m able to keep my hand in on IT developments by helping three friends with their private ventures. I’m fitter than I’ve ever been. I’ve watched a lot of cricket, and my golf handicap has come down. And, perhaps most important of all, I’ve spent more time with friends. 

Perhaps the only real surprise is that I haven’t missed work at all.  

Go on – what’s stopping you?  Enjoy!       

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