I have always been fascinated by lists of rules.  They usually tell you what you cannot do and often there are several rules I had never even thought about doing!  Check out the picture  I posted at the end of this article of Hyde Park London boating rules.

The retirement “rules” that I had often thought marked the typical retirement were pretty simple in a lot of respects.  They usually started with retire at 65 and retirement activities usually meant some hobby, travel, moving to a warmer climate if you are from the frozen tundra, and spoiling grandchildren.  Life expectancies in this stereotypical retirement meant that you may only have 3 to 10 years to do these activities.

Today the rules do not apply.  Life expectancies are longer, people are retiring earlier and while you don’t know how many days are ahead of you, they could easily be double or triple the historical retirement span. There are also an infinite set of possibilities for retirement and I have been thinking, praying, and journaling extensively as a way to discover what retirement will mean for me.

Rules are often meant to reduce risk in some way.  I remember an Amtrak trip I took several years ago and there was an extensive oratory given by the conductor on the rules on the train.  Most of them seemed to be focused on risk reduction or safety, although again some like opening the window and sticking my arm out “which could be cut off by a sign or tree branch” had never entered my mind as a good idea anyway.  In my pre-retirement career, I have been a frequent flier on airlines and most of the rules are focused on getting you to your destination safely.  Yet in the new retirement, it strikes me that this is the time to take some risks.

Retirement for some may be a time to review risk in your investment portfolio but to re-risk your life.    If there is ever a time to pursue your passions, give back, put a dream into action, there is no other “now” than now.  Throughout my 30 year career, I have had to continually reinvent myself as I had taken on new responsibilities, dealt with new challenges and navigated a new environment, and I don’t see this reinvention changing just because I am embarking on a new stage of life.  Reinventing yourself can be exciting, it can lead to personal growth, and it can give you tremendous energy.  This is not the time to be bound by rules, but to create your own path forward and that is what I am working on now.



Throw out the rules!


A Boomer in Transition

Mornings in London

This summer our family traveled to London and Paris on what would be our last big vacation during my full-time working career.

The vacation was a great for a lot of reasons.  First of all, it was a vacation in it’s truest sense as we were all disconnected from our jobs and from essentially everything except each other.  As a bonus, the weather was perfect and we got to see and do everything we wanted to during the vacation.

For me, the vacation also provided some early morning time each day to pray, to journal, and to reflect before we ventured off on each day’s agenda.  We stayed in a great hotel near Trafalgar Square with a comfortable lounge on our floor.  This became command central for my mornings in London time.

In March of this year, I decided that I was going to retire at the end of this calendar year.  I gave notice to my boss in early April and the transition to retirement started to become real.  I am still fully engaged at work and very busy, so these early mornings in London gave me my most concentrated time to think and reflect since I made the decision.

One of the primary catalysts for my decision to retire now was a diagnosis of cancer that was given to me (some gift) on November 7, 2012.  After a surgery to remove a tumor, surgery to install a port, 3.5 months of chemo, surgery to take out my bladder, create a new one, a 3 month journey with blood clots in my lungs, physical therapy, and surgery to take out my port, I am happy to be cancer-free!  But this journey was a wake up call that life can be short, it is uncertain, and there is more to life than working 60-70 hours a week and spending more time in airports than with my family.

Yet, this simply marked the beginning of the transition from a career baby boomer to a career something else.  During the mornings in London I journaled nearly 30 pages and realized that for me retirement will not be playing golf every day (I am a horrible golfer anyway).  But retirement will be staying intellectually engaged in some part-time way in a field I have enjoyed and spending more time with family, church and some newfound volunteer passions.

I feel like I need to be a good steward of my time and my talents in this next stage of my life.  Right now I have well over a dozen ideas of areas I want to pursue, but I am being careful not to jump into too many of them until I find the ones that are best for me to pursue. This is an exciting time, it feels like a new beginning, and while it is important to me to finish well my work career, it is also important to launch myself into my new career well and with the right activities.

Stay tuned for more . . .


A Boomer in Transition