Nearly every day I tell myself how happy I am to be retired. I don’t miss my job. The nest egg is in good shape, I have lots of hobbies and am having fun. However, at times I miss feeling successful.
The thing is, I never achieved the level of success I aspired to, so I’m not sure what I am missing. I did very well in my career over the long haul and found satisfaction in knowing I used my skills well and accomplished more than anyone else expected of me. Still, I left some opportunity on the table.
Should I go back to work? I looked at jobs online today to see if anything sounded interesting. I saw one job requiring “grit” and “a nearly insane level of attention to detail.” Sure, that could be me on a good day. More than likely it’s not.
Reading through job descriptions, there’s strong demand for passionate self-starters who can roll up their sleeves and collaborate with a fast-paced global team. I used to write this crap – and reading it now cured me of the itch to find a job.
Perhaps it’s not the feeling of success I miss but the feeling of knowing what success looked like. In the workplace, the path to success is mostly linear, and it points up.
That seemed doable to me, so I set my eyes on the prize and worked hard. Sometimes I fell short of my hopes and dreams, and other times I wildly exceeded even my own expectations. But I had the map, I had a compass and I stayed on the trail. There were prizes along the way and incentives to keep going.
By the time I retired, I had lots of prizes, but my bullshit meter was pegged.
In a career limiting development, these days there’s not much of a gap between my inside voice and my outside voice. I wanted to do something different with the last third of my life anyway, so I retired as soon as the math worked out.
I’m coming up on the one-year mark, and I’ve learned retirement doesn’t come with a map or compass. Many of us traded our talents for money and security. I certainly did, and I have no regrets. But I am still driven to reach my full potential, whatever that is, and now I have to figure it out all by my own self. I have a feeling I’m not alone.
Donna Pekar is an aging badass (for real) who lives in California and writes Retirement Confidential.