As an early “Baby Boomer” ie, one of those human beings born in the period after World War II and until the early 1960s, I’ve been giving a lot of thought during the last few years about how much longer I will work and what I’ll do after I retire. It could be a dilemma; on the one hand, after 46 years at work, I’ve had enough working for an employer 8am to 5pm every day except Saturday and Sunday. On the other hand, I’m in good health and don’t want to give work away just to spend the remainder of my days pottering about in the garden. So what’s the solution?
First, I’ve changed my mind about the idea of retirement. To me retirement is a dirty word. It means leaving work and hanging around waiting to die. After all, isn’t that what people do? They leave work and after a few years pottering about, die. The certainty of death is very good at creating focus. It’s not that we morbidly focus on it all the time, but that we know it’s getting closer and need to make the most of what time we have left. I’m thinking more and more each day of “refocusing” instead of “retiring”.
My idea in refocusing is to give my employer the flick and then do something I enjoy that will keep me active, alert, and perhaps bring in some supplementary income. Rather than refocus on one activity, which is rather like leaving one job for another, I’m working on diversifying my activities. I believe a balance of perhaps charity work – giving back something to society, running a small Internet business, and some short-term, part-time work will suit me. I want to choose how much time I devote to anything I do.
If you are a Baby Boomer like me, why not think about refocusing instead of retiring?
Here are some suggestions for a balanced refocusing:
Do some gardening: Gardening can be relaxing if you enjoy being outdoors. It also gives a sense of pleasure and achievement seeing a prize rose blossom into a beautiful work of art, sculpted by the hands of an unknown master designer. Your house will look special as your efforts start to pay off. Choose a time of day that is suitable to you to avoid excessive heat or cold, sunburn or being run over by peak hour traffic. Maybe start off with half hour per day and increase it if you want to.
Work for a charity: Find a charitable organisation that suits you and volunteer to deliver books to older people, deliver Meals on Wheels, do some menial tasks about the houses of the elderly, or find someone who’d like you to read to them once or twice per week. This will get you out of your house, away from your spouse (if you have one), and enable you to feel good about helping someone who needs and appreciates your help. Remember that one day you may need someone to help you.
Do some part-time paid work: This need not be in the area in which you have spent your life’s work. If you were a rocket scientist, get a job as a doorman at a hotel or club, you’ll meet hundreds of interesting people and perhaps enjoy the socialisation. If you were a taxi driver, perhaps get a job registering vehicles for a car dealer on a commission basis. Whatever you do, find something you enjoy and do as many or as few hours as you wish or your employer will allow. My Uncle was almost 80 and washed dishes at a Chinese cafe a couple of lunch times per week. A friend is in his mid-sixties and does occasional driving jobs for visiting celebrities. Another in his sixties works one day per week taking bets for a bookmaker.
Work from home: There are literally thousands of jobs you can do from home including earning money on the Internet as an affiliate, drop-shipper or eBay seller. You could run a book exchange or look after the homes of people who are on holidays or out of town. You could walk someone’s dog, water their plants, feed their animals, pick up their dry cleaning. There are really endless opportunities to make money. And if you are doing it more to keep active than to put food on your table, it can be fun.
Research a topic of interest: If you have always wanted to know something about the Norwegian pink-tailed swan, do some research and perhaps put your findings into an ebook for sale on the Internet. Or just enjoy the research and keep your knowledge to yourself.
Take a trip: Among all of your other activities, take time to take a trip somewhere you have always wanted to visit. You don’t have to go for two years, you can go for a few weeks and go more often. Travel provides a good break from your routine and is good for self renewal if you are feeling as if you are in a rut.
Do nothing: That’s right, do nothing for at least part of your week. Sit in a chair and listen to some nice music. Dream some pleasant dreams, read a good book, watch a television show, or simply doze off and have a good rest. Or perhaps have a half bottle of red wine and then doze off, it will be much easier!
Whatever you do, don’t retire and sit around waiting for the Grim Reaper. The more you wait, the quicker he will arrive. Make a decision now to refocus and plan to do a range of tasks that will keep you physically well, mentally healthy, and if possible, add to your income. For all we know, we only have one life … don’t waste a single minute of it.
Make every minute count!
Copyright 2005 Robin Henry