I had an interesting conversation with a neighbor, who hopes to move to his house here in southern Colorado in the next year or so. The kids are all finishing college this year and he and his wife have built a nice “cabin” near us, and far away from his many responsibilities as a business owner back in Kansas.
Besides the usual, “Have I saved enough money?” fears, my new friend is quite worried about how he will fare in his new life here. He is born and raised German Lutheran with an amazing case of Type A personality. In other words, he likes to be doing something most of the time, preferably something productive, and often pushes himself with deadlines, hating delays and uncertainty.
Now you might say, who does like delays and uncertainty? Don’t we all like to feel in control of our fate? The only problem is, we aren’t. When it comes right down to it we could all fall ill or die today. Anything can happen to anyone at any time. Starting from that premise, what do I need to do today to further my own specific life goals?
I was also raised with that good old German authoritarian, “What have you produced today?” work ethic. Luckily I have also been given the wonderful opportunity to adjust to the idea of retirement very slowly, not all at once.
“What do we live for if it is not to make life less difficult for each other.” – George Eliot
My husband Mike is my best teacher in this area. He had the misfortune to go from highly-skilled and productive engineering technician to Chronic Fatigue Sufferer in his mid-thirties. After many job losses and years of doctors and others not believing him, he somehow adjusted to the anger and frustration of having an illness that nobody seemed interested in defining or diagnosing properly. (New research!)
The long-term effects of CFS forced Mike to retire early. It also taught him to have more patience with himself and everyone around him. First it made him very angry, then CFS made him a better person. In fact I’m fairly sure we wouldn’t get along so well if he had not been changed so much through his experience with this terrible illness.
His patience and understanding provided me with the unique opportunity to change careers. At age 50 I started over as a freelance writer. After 25 years in the library profession, I finally gained enough confidence to believe that I could be a writer. With Mike’s great emotional and financial support I did what I had always wanted to do, but also feared. I could not have done this without Mike’s help.
That is why I now see ‘retirement’ as the next great adventure.
With love and support we can spend time finding out what it is we really want to try. What did you LOVE as a kid? What did you really want to be doing when you first went to work? You can do those things now. Sure it may not make money, but it could be lots of FUN!
Too many of us focus solely on the money issues surrounding retirement, and not enough on “What’s next for me?” Can I change? Would I like to be a more relaxed or patient person? Can I adjust to not producing something everyday? Can I change my focus to making life less difficult for others? Now that’s a good retirement goal!
I’m a newcomer to rural southern Colorado. After two years I decided to compile a short journal about the ups and downs of moving from a good-sized city to rural America to build a passive solar retirement home in the foothills:
Please share this information with your friends if they are considering similar life changes. Feel free to contact me directly to discuss any of these challenges, and to order your own signed copies of any of my books! Cheers, Laura Lee (email me: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com)