You might find my retired life rather dull. Deliciously boring (but not bored). This, too, could be yours! For some of us, our work life was intense, and it’s fun to just hang out and be happy cats.
I was thinking about how much I like my boring life, much as I used to like boring politics, when a couple of former colleagues shared a bit of work news with me. That got me thinking about my old job and questioning my decisions. Did I bail out too early?
The answer is no. While I had a rewarding career and was rather obsessed with my job for many years, toward the end, the workplace and all the nonsense that goes on there didn’t seem worth the trade of time for money. I wanted to live differently.
I pulled the plug at age 62 – not exactly early retirement – and went in search of myself. What sparked intense curiosity? What made me happy? It would have been easier to keep working and never face down my essence. At least you get paid to avoid self-reflection. Just keep slogging along and buying more stuff and taking expensive vacations so you have to keep slogging along.
Since I retired, I’ve learned a lot about what I need and don’t need, mostly from the comfort of my living room. My hair is wild. I have one or two outfits I wash and wear over and over. I’m slowly discovering what gets me up in the morning. Aside from golf and nice long walks, I’m excited about food. We cook almost everything from scratch, and it’s tremendously satisfying. I have intense curiosity about dinner. And possibly sourdough, the next frontier.
I love to walk to the library and browse the shelves and think, “What might I want to learn about today?” I rather like the idea of picking some crazy new subject and immersing myself in it. Being an expert at something appeals to me. There’s still time.
Yet, I wonder if I’m wasting my life … that old programming that says produce, produce, produce. These are the same doubts I had when I was working – but now the stress is gone, and I’m doing things that make me happy. All other things being equal, doubt will always be there, but retirement wins.
Retirement can be whatever you want it to be. I prefer mostly uneventful days, but you might seek more action. Find your happy place and go there. As for me, I like to pretend I’m an eccentric Bohemian heiress (perhaps a bit reclusive and frugal) who spends her life dabbling in things that amuse her. And you know what? I look forward to every single day.
Donna Pekar is an aging badass (for real) who lives in California and writes Retirement Confidential.