Feature Stories

Retirement Gives You the Opportunity to Be in Charge

For most people reaching the retirement milestone, the journey has been filled with decades of working for someone else; endless tasks and requests along with too many meetings and conference calls. Years of devoting your time to projects that would make or break your year end review and determine your bonus or raise for next twelve months. If you were in a position of responsibility, you may have received middle of the night phone calls or been asked to stay late. You were probably asked to work a weekend and cancel personal plans because you were needed for some kind of emergency. You were always taking direction from someone else. Even if you were the CEO of a major corporation, there were the shareholders or the Board of Directors that you needed to answer to. It’s time to look at retirement as the chance to take orders from no one but yourself! Retirement is the opportunity to create the rest of your life and re-visit the dreams and desires you had to put on hold.

If you’re thinking that everyone has had the ability to shape their own life from the time they were born, I cannot disagree with you. But many people like me, for one reason or another, don’t exercise as much control over where they spend their time as they should. I’m not making excuses – my life has turned out very well, but for most of my working years I was too busy worrying about how to make a living and providing for a family. That took priority over nurturing my dreams. I never knew what I wanted to do in terms of a career. I never had a dream to be a doctor or a lawyer and, to this day, I’m not sure I could spend a whole life doing the same thing. I was fortunate enough to have many different positions within the same company but never actually fell in love with any of the tasks that came my way. That was true with most of the people I worked with. They liked their job, but they didn’t love it. It was a way to make ends meet, provide for a family, go on vacation and save a little for retirement. Very few people asked the most important question about retirement: what are you going to do when that day actually comes? The result is that many people wake up each day with nothing to do. They plan the “ultimate retirement vacation”, have a great time and then wonder what’s next? Even if your financial situation allows you to vacation in style a few times every year, most people realize they need a little more purpose in their life.

I was determined to make the most of my retirement and I knew I would be the one who was in control of how I spent my days. I was a person who would plan out every vacation and knew how every day would be spent because I loved the time with the family and escaping the day-to-day tasks at work. I felt sorry for the people we met during our vacations, especially in a place like Disney World, who stood around trying to decide what to do next. When I played this forward to the endless vacation we call retirement, I knew I did not want to be one of those people who woke up every day asking what they should do today. Is there a value to spontaneity and relaxation? Of course there is, but relaxing all day gets old very quickly and a full schedule doesn’t mean you can’t make a change and take advantage of an opportunity that pops up quickly. That’s the beauty of retirement.

It’s time to make a plan because retirement is the time in life when you can call the shots. Make a list of all the things you’ve ever wanted to do. Take an inventory of all the skills you’d like to develop. Reach out to all the people you want to stay in touch with. Stay up to date with all the technological advances that provide opportunities no generation has had before. The internet has exploded with truly mind-boggling advances that will enable even your wildest dreams. Have you ever wanted to write a novel or publish a book? The days of trying to find an agent or a company that would accept your manuscript are over and the internet offers a way to market your book to readers who are eager to hear your voice.

There are people making first class movies and documentaries because it is now so easy to make quality recordings and edit your work into something that people will buy. Our daughter does it with her phone! Information videos flood the market and, if you have a little bit of skill, you can create a website that will attract visitors from around the world.

All of this is possible and easier than you think when you take the time to explore the opportunities that are growing every day. There is no limit to what you can do. There really never has been; it’s just finding the time to do it all. Now that you’re retired, you have the time, and the possibilities are endless. It’s time to Enjoy Retired Life.

James Conner retired from Corporate America in 2017. He lives in upstate New York and is the owner of the website EnjoyRetiredLife.com.  He can be reached jconner@EnjoyRetiredLife.com.

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