Anne is one of my favourite people and like me she is a coach. Just by being a coach, however, does not mean we know all of the answers when we are in the situation whatever that is. Having somebody independent to talk to helps a great deal. I have never coached Anne but since we trained as supervisors, the 2 of us have always kept in touch on a regular basis to discuss matters close to our hearts and businesses. Anne writes:
Retirement is the withdrawal from one’s position or occupation, or from one’s active working life. A person may also semi-retire by reducing work hours.
In 1974 aged sweet 16 I began full time work as a cashier in a bank. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that my retirement age would be sixty. I didn’t think about it much as when you are 16 you cannot really imagine ever being as old as 60. (Ironically when you sail past 60 you can easily remember being 16 as if it was only yesterday!)
As it happens, the state retirement age for me moved from 60 to 61, then 62 and then out of the blue with just a couple of years notice, I was advised I wouldn’t get my state pension until I was 65 and 7 months. (Yes, I’m a WASPI lady but maybe that’s for another article)
What’s prompted me to write this is more to do with this strange new period in life called retirement.
Now I’ve been very fortunate because apart from some of the four-year stint working in a bank and a few years at the end of my Newspaper career, I have always enjoyed my work. Also, for the last 23 years of my ‘working’ life I worked for myself and happily created a great work life balance working mainly 3 days a week for 40 weeks of the year. As an old colleague often told people “Anne doesn’t do August” I originally committed to that when my daughter was a little girl and saw no reason to change the pattern even when she graduated.
Find something you enjoy doing then it doesn’t feel like work
Throughout those years as a working married Mum, I had a home to run and a business to build as well as active but ageing parents to spend time with. I count myself very fortunate to have developed an interesting and enjoyable career as a coach getting positive feedback from the people I worked with and the bonus of being around in my ‘home office’ as my daughter grew up. There was always plenty to do and a familiar pace and rhythm to the working week and the holiday breaks.
As my parents got older, they needed more support especially when my lovely Mum developed Alzheimer’s and more so when a few years later we lost Dad. I freely acknowledge that the situation became emotionally draining and began to affect my creative energy and the time I could spend to sustain my business. So, in April 2017 I closed my limited company and began preparing to wind down a little until, almost reluctantly in November 2019, I finally acknowledged retirement.
What a shock it was to discover that this retirement lark didn’t prove to be as easy as I imagined. At first with daily visits to Mum; the occasional request for coaching and the admin aspects of the business to wind down, I didn’t really notice a big change but gradually I began to find it all a little odd.
I’m still up with the lark; a trait inherited from my much-loved dad. I’ve noticed however with lots of time on your hands you can be prone to prevarication; putting off today what you can do next week. Sometimes it gets to 11 o’clock; when in my working day I may have ‘moved mountains’, I struggle to think of anything practical I’ve achieved. Once able to make dozens of quite complex decisions every day I have at times struggled to decide what to have for lunch. And there are only so many lunches and coffee mornings you can attend! My once busy mind now overthinks the smallest things as my daughter regularly tells me, because it no longer has enough important things to think about. Without the stimulation of the work you love, the household chores astonishingly seem to become more of a chore not less even with a wonderful man to share them. He might argue its not an equal share as I don’t venture into the garden…. or the kitchen I hear him mutter!
I’ve discovered I’m not alone in feeling a little lost at the beginning of the retirement journey. I’m assured that it’s a temporary thing and that soon I won’t know how I fit work in!
As the New Year began, I reminded myself that happiness is a largely choice; we can’t choose our thoughts but we can let them drift away like clouds across a blue sky. The choice we do have is between the thoughts we let go and the ones we choose to act on. I remembered that you have to be the one to make the change you want to see! I resolved to create a better routine because after 50 years of work I realise that I thrive better with a purpose and I also decided to be happy that it can be a flexible routine, allowing for spontaneity.
As I constantly acknowledge, there are so many people’ some very dear to me’ dealing with far far worse situations and sadly some people I was very close to who might have expected another 20 years of life, now suddenly no longer here. We really do never know what a day will bring and life really is too short.
So now I’m counting my retirement blessings. I’m walking every week day morning, I’m reading more, I’m planning short breaks and holidays and I’m writing again. I’m choosing to feel happy that I can meet up regularly with old friends and to be glad they want to meet up with me. I’m now relishing having more freedom to decide what to do. And finally, I am realising that it’s also good to occasionally decide to do absolutely nothing.
Where you are is the place to be
Anne Pink, Happily retired
Generally, I talk about planning your retirement a couple of years before but there is that transition after you have retired too. What is your purpose each day to get out of bed? How are you going to enjoy the remainder of your life which could be another 30 years? What are you going to differently? What hobbies are you going to take up? There are so many questions which a simple coaching session can give you food for thought.