Preparing for retirement generally brings to mind getting enough money together to survive in some style short of abject poverty for the rest of your life.  That is certainly a valid first impression and a good image to keep in mind.

Most who are serious about one day owning their time and no longer showing up at the job for the weekly stipend have given a great deal of though and likely a great deal of effort to the financial side of the move to retirement.

After all, there are endless opportunities to prepare financially. Your work likely offers you an opportunity to save, there are significant tax benefits to put income away for retirement and you are likely full of my giving you unending ideas to that end.

There is however another side to retirement that is too often left to the forces of happenstance. That other side of retirement is what you will do with the time you have newly acquired. One day you will no longer be expected on the job. Your work acquaintances will call less and eventually not at all. Your activities centered on work will slow until they cease. Your preparations for the week ahead at work, even the next day at work, will cease.

Whatever will you do with yourself when you come to the realization that all you held as important, all those who held you in esteem and all the activity centered around your job dissolves?

This you need to know. Coincidentally with your financial planning for retirement you are well served to begin to think about and eventually plan for how you will use your newly bought back time.

Like a bed, you spend far too much time in a job to have a bad one and that job has probably become a significant part of your life and even a big part of who you are. The day the job evaporates a big part of you will also evaporate unless you have planned for perhaps the most significant change that will come into your life.

Life after work is most successfully achieved in incremental change. Small changes day to day over years as you come closer to your retirement date. I know many who have retired from life long careers as teachers, law enforcement personnel or professionals who rather quickly return to those occupations on a part time basis because ‘they love the work.’

Yeah right. They returned because they were bored to tears at home with nothing meaningful in their day. They returned because they realized they felt less a person without a major part of their life. They returned because they had failed to plan for what they want to do with their post work life.

Because I went into my post gainful employment period after ten years of planning to do so I knew what I wanted. I wanted to own my time and I wanted to own it so I would be free to do the things that were important to me.

I wanted to give back to a community that had given me so much over so many years.

I wanted to give my time, expertise and experience. I wanted to take advantage of contacts garnered over years to bring new projects to life. I wanted to share knowledge learned over a lifetime with those just reaching understanding. I wanted to make a contribution to the body of human knowledge. And I wanted to spend my days doing whatever I wanted regardless of what any other person expected or thought I should.

To an amazing degree I have done each of the above. I have been afforded the opportunity because I took the time to plan financially. And I have been allowed the opportunities because I planned emotionally.    

This concludes our Retiring Gay series. To see all of the articles check out