As an early “Baby Boomer”, that is, one of those human beings born in the post-WWII period and into the early 1960s, I have been thinking a lot over the past few years about how much longer I will work and what I’ll do after I retire. It could be a dilemma; For one thing, after 46 years on the job, I have had enough work for an employer from 8 am to 5 pm every day except Saturday and Sunday. On the other hand, I am in good health and I don’t want to give away work just to spend the rest of my days hanging out in the garden. So what is the solution?
First, I have changed my mind about the idea of retirement. For me, retirement is a dirty word. It means quitting your job and waiting to die. After all, isn’t that what people do? They quit work and after a few years of wandering, they die. The certainty of death is very good at creating focus. It’s not that we morbidly focus on it all the time, but that we know it’s getting closer and we need to make the most of the time we have left. Every day I think more about “refocusing” instead of “withdrawing.”
My idea in refocusing is to give my employer a movie and then do something that I enjoy that will keep me active, alert, and perhaps generate some additional income. Instead of refocusing on one activity, which is like leaving one job for another, I am working on diversifying my activities. I think a balance of maybe charity work – giving back to society, running a small internet business, and some short-term, part-time work will do me good. I want to choose how much time I spend on everything I do.
If you’re a Baby Boomer like me, why not think about refocusing instead of retreating?
Here are some suggestions for a balanced reorientation:
Do some gardening: Gardening can be relaxing if you like being outdoors. It also gives a sense of pleasure and accomplishment to see an award rose turn into a beautiful work of art, sculpted by the hands of an unknown master designer. Your home will look special as your efforts begin to pay off. Choose a time of day that is right for you to avoid excessive heat or cold, sunburn, or being hit by rush hour traffic. Maybe start with half an hour a day and increase if you want.
Work for a charity: Find a charity that’s right for you and volunteer to deliver books to seniors, deliver Meals on Wheels, do some chores at the homes of the seniors, or find someone you’d like to have a read or two read to you. per week. This will get you out of your home, away from your spouse (if you have one), and allow you to feel good about helping someone who needs and appreciates your help. Remember that one day you may need someone to help you.
Do some part-time paid work: This does not have to be in the area where you have spent your life’s work. If you were a rocket scientist, you got a job as a doorman in a hotel or club, you will meet hundreds of interesting people, and perhaps you will enjoy socializing. If you were a taxi driver, you might get a job registering vehicles for a car dealer for a commission. Whatever you do, find something you enjoy and do it for as many or as few hours as you like or your employer allows. My uncle was in his late 80s and washed dishes in a Chinese cafe a couple of times for lunch a week. A friend is in his 60s and does odd driving jobs for visiting celebrities. Another of the sixty works one day a week placing bets for a bookmaker.
Work from home: There are literally thousands of jobs you can do from home, including making money online as an eBay affiliate, referrer, or seller. You could do a book exchange or take care of the homes of people who are on vacation or out of town. You could walk someone’s dog, water their plants, feed their animals, pick up their dry cleaners. There are truly endless opportunities to earn money. And if you do it more to stay active than to put food on your table, it can be fun.
Research a topic of interest: If you’ve always wanted to know something about the Norwegian pink-tailed swan, do a little research and maybe put your findings in an e-book for sale on the internet. Or just enjoy the research and keep your knowledge to yourself.
Take a trip: Among all your other activities, take the time to take a trip to some place you’ve always wanted to visit. You don’t have to go for two years, you can go for a few weeks and do it more often. Traveling provides a good break from routine and is good for personal renewal if you feel like you are in a rut.
Do nothing: That’s right, do nothing for at least part of your week. Sit in a chair and listen to good music. Dream some nice dreams, read a good book, watch a TV show, or just get some good sleep and rest. Or maybe have a half bottle of red wine and then sleep, it will be a lot easier!
Whatever you do, don’t retreat and just sit there waiting for the Grim Reaper. The longer you wait, the faster it will arrive. Make the decision now to refocus and plan to do a variety of tasks that will keep you physically well, mentally healthy, and if possible, increase your income. As far as we know, we only have one life … don’t waste a minute of it.
Make every minute count!
Copyright 2005 Robin Henry