It’s time to retire

I was supposed to go back to work in late September, but I’ve decided to retire while I still have the energy to do the things that I want to do. I told a few of my friends about my decision and most of them said, “I knew you wouldn’t go back”, which is odd because I didn’t really know myself until a few weeks ago.

Lots of people tell me that they would retire tomorrow if they had the money, but for me the decision about how and when to retire has resulted in many sleepless nights and long circular conversations with my friends and family. I’m grateful to have had those listening ears, and thought I’d share a few thoughts in case you are also contemplating retirement.

I have always liked working and wasn’t even thinking about retiring until last year when I was lucky enough to go to New York with my youngest daughter. When she announced that she was going to book some flights, I think I kind of invited myself along, or maybe she asked if I would go with her. Anyway, I jumped at the chance and we had the most fabulous holiday. I’m so glad I went as I doubt that I’ll ever get back there again.

Woman eating hot dog in New York

While I was in New York it occurred to me that I wasn’t going to be around for ever and perhaps I should start making the most of my time. It would be awful to be given some kind of diagnosis that cut short your life and to have spent all your time at work when you could have been having fun. I’m not expecting anything awful to happen to me, but you just never know how long you’ve got on this earth.

Even so, I still struggled with the idea of being a retired person. My sense of identity has always been strongly connected to my working life and I was a bit worried that I’d feel a bit unmoored when I left work. I also worried that my natural inclination to futz about all day would lead to me being very unproductive or doing nothing at all. Fortunately, neither of these has eventuated during my long service leave. Whilst it’s true that I spend more time doing household tasks – it’s hard to ignore the washing up when you’re at home all day – there’s also more time for reading, writing, and learning new skills.

When I talk to people about retiring, the conversation usually revolves around the question of having enough money, so one of the things I’ve been doing over the last 12 months is tracking my spending. I know that the Covid 19 has reduced most people’s outgoings, but I honestly don’t think I need a huge salary. I have pretty simple tastes and apart from the household spending, it’s seems like the most common things I buy are wine and coffee. Even though I’m an avid reader, most of my books come from the local library or from friends, and I’ve only filled up my car with petrol once in the last three months.

We aren’t planning any renovations and we aren’t allowed to travel, so the main thing to spend money on is the garden and that doesn’t cost much, especially if you grow things from seed.

It’s true that I will miss my friends at work, but they aren’t physically at work, so the social aspects of being in an office no longer exist. I’ll miss chatting in the kitchen and people randomly asking me how to spell things. I’ll miss contributing ideas and working in a team. I won’t miss the endless re-writing of reports that no-one reads, the long interminable meetings where no decisions are made. Work is not always productive or meaningful, sometimes it’s a sheer waste of time that would be better spent weeding the garden, writing or reading a book. These are by far my favourite activities and I’m looking forward to exploring new horizons. So whilst I’m sad to be leaving my job, I’m pretty excited about the future.

If you read this blog and you’ve been part of my working life, thank you for your companionship and your enthusiasm and do keep in touch. I’m planning to write here more regularly so please keep reading and chime in with your thoughts if you’d like to.

Cheerio for now

Marg

31 thoughts on “It’s time to retire

  1. I’m about to start my second attempt at retirement at the end of this year. Managed 18 months in my first attempt. For me its not quitting work though, its quitting being told what work that is my motivation.

    1. I think you get to a point where you want to have more control over what you do, and also you start thinking differently about what really matters.
      I’m really interested in why people decide to retire and also why they sometimes choose to ‘unretire’, if that’s a word. What made you decide to go back to work the first time?

      1. its a tricky one. I have a really well paid job and the opportunity to put in two or three more years would be a significant cash boost. So we thought, take two years to put things in place, property, investments etc, and then make it a permanent move. With Covid and investment return plunges looks like we luckily made the right call.

      2. That sounds like a good plan. I know that I probably could have stuck it out a bit longer but I think we’ll be fine. It makes a big difference if you don’t have a mortgage etc.

  2. Good on you Margaret!
    I’m a couple of years off but sometimes think I should pack in early so I can find time to do other things. I do enjoy my work, though (well, most of the time) and the economic impact of Covid has had a hit on pension funds which has implications for a retirement date.
    My plan is supposed to be that I started winding down this year and then tails off, carrying on with some work after my official retirement. It was working to plan until the end of March when it all went pear shaped due to the crisis which has actually meant I’ve been busier than planned (with less income!) Hopefully I can get back on track next year.
    In the meantime I’m quite jealous of you!

    1. I think I might feel a little bit differently about retiring if I was running my own business, but I do think winding down a bit is a good plan if you can manage it.
      I’ve still got a lot of plans spinning around in my head but a good friend told me to relax and stop worrying about who I was going to be, or what I was going to do. The great thing about announcing your retirement is that people don’t really have any expectations of you so you are free to explore new interests.
      I imagine you will do more walking but perhaps you might explore your artistic side or write more? I will watch with interest.

      1. It’s easy to have the intention to wind down – but not so easy to put into practice. It is very difficult to turn down work. The covid crisis has created problems meaning the plan had to be amended! But I have hopes for next year.
        And you’re right, when I do slow down, as long as my legs hold out, I’ll try to do more walking and also devote more time to other interests, visiting galleries and museums and the like. Sometimes I can even combine art and walking by visiting sculpture parks and trails!
        Enjoy your early retirement 🙂

  3. Having retired early and wondered what to do and how to fill in my life. I now wonder how I ever had time to work. It takes a little bit of time to get used to it, but when you do it’s a blast. So much to do and so little time. Besides you and Tony ARE coming to WA

  4. Congratulations! I have a feeling you will enjoy retirement and have no problem staying busy and productive! I think COVID is causing a lot of people to contemplate retirement. My sister decided to retire in April, a few months earlier than she had planned. Her workplace was really suffering because of the pandemic.

    1. Thank you so much. I agree that lots of people have been having a good long think about what really matters. I hope your sister has fun and enjoys her new life.

  5. Congratulations Marg. You have retired from one aspect of your life and left a wonderful legacy for those who follow ….. wisdom and patience. The other aspects of life will grow and fill the void. More room for reading, cooking, laughing, singing, family, coffee catch ups, long lunches …. the list will grow. Take others with you … a journey shared is most enjoyable :)-

  6. I agree with everything have said Marg. I am also retiring at the end of this year having transitioned into it via doing all my work online.

    We’ll have to get together (at a safe social distance) soon!

  7. Just listened to Rhiannon Giddens sing this song and it made me think of you and how your retirement
    allows “tomorrow to be your turn”

    “Tomorrow Is My Turn” – Nina Simone
    Though some may reach for the stars
    Others will end behind bars
    What the future has in store no one ever knows before
    Yet we would all like the right to find the key to success
    That elusive ray of light that will lead to happiness
    Tomorrow is my turn
    No more doubts no more fears
    Tomorrow is my turn
    When my luck is returning
    All these years I’ve been learning to save fingers from burning
    Tomorrow is my turn
    No more doubts no more fears
    Tomorrow is my turn to receive without giving
    Make life worth living
    Now it’s my life I’m living
    My only concern for tomorrow is my turn

  8. I love retirement! Although I understand cutting loose can be a little frightening. Stephen and I really enjoy our time together, and also pursuing our individual interests apart. Time is precious and should be spent doing the things you really enjoy now. And if you find yourself with some extra time you can always volunteer. I’ve spent the last 8 years on the phones at Lifeline and have found that very rewarding. I’ve found I need time for the body to hopefully extend the time I have left, time for the brain (Bridge, Bookclub etc), something creative and social activities, which are important for longevity.. All the best for the future. Give us a call when you and Tony are in Sydney. The Avoca property has been sold so we don’t get up to the Central Coast much anymore. Best of luck for the future. Penny

    1. Hi Penny, so lovely to hear that you and Stephen are enjoying retirement. When I was thinking about retiring people often said “you’ll love it” and I used think “how do you know?” but now that it’s finally here, I feel very positive. I have lots of things that I want to do and as you say, time is indeed precious. We would love to catch up one day. Until then, look after yourself.

  9. Awww Marg. I’m so happy for you and what you have said is all true. We really all don’t need so much and you put it in such a wonderful perspective. I’m so glad I am connected to you through Social Media and when all this crazy stuff ends I would love to catch up.

    You go and enjoy your life and continue to write your amazing blogs. I love them.

  10. Sounds really good, Margaret! I haven’t written because we’ve moved – again – my husband took a job with a pharma company working on Covid treatments. No sooner had we moved back from Oregon when the pandemic hit, and then he got the job…which is about 3 hours east of Rochester, in Albany, the state capitol. (Closer to NYC). We just moved a couple of weeks ago
    Anyway, it sounds like you have made the right decision, Margaret! And I agree with so much of what you say….

    1. Hello Valorie, it’s lovely to hear from you. I saw on FB that you were packing and I wondered if you were moving again.

  11. Congratulations on retirement Marg! Enjoy all your gardening, cooking, reading and other activities. Was lots of fun working with you. Hope you’re able to jet off to foreign shores soon!

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