My Satisfying Retirement : A Leap of Faith

Which door will I pick?

How many times in your life have you had to make a decision but you were not sure that was the best one? How many people did you trust with important secrets or information? When you decided it was time to retire, how sure were you things would work out the way you dreamed they would?

In each case and too many more to mention, you had to take a leap of faith. You had to trust instinct, experience, feedback from others, and maybe, just a dash of bravado and luck to take that step.

Retirement is very much a leap of faith. Think back to the first morning you woke up retired and unemployed. Do you remember that incredible feeling of freedom, followed almost immediately by, “what have I done?” A blank slate replaced an obligatory schedule. The comfort of familiarity and routine was not there.

If you married, a huge leap of faith came with the vows. With 50% of all marriages ending before “death do us part” you were rolling the dice with not only your future, but that of another, and even future miniature versions of you.

If you decided to remain single, you probably fought against loud voices from family and friends, telling you to get with the program. Mom and dad wanted grandkids. Your buddies are worried about you remaining the only one in the group without a wife or husband to complain about. Your singlehood required a solid sense of who you are and a leap of faith that you were right.

Divorce? A big leap. Regardless of the circumstances of breaking up a marriage or long-term partnership, such a move comes with serious costs, both financial and emotional. Add some children to the equation and life becomes much more complicated.

Back to retirement, suddenly you are truly the master of your own universe. Sure, there are plenty of responsibilities that don’t stop with the job, but the amount of freedom can be overwhelming, at first. “What Do I Do All Day” remains the number one question among new retirees.

It is easy to make two very different decisions at this point: over-commit or lock the door and stay on the coach, regretting the lack of a purpose. Neither shows a leap of faith, but a misguided attempt to avoid that jump.

The majority of new retirees fall into the first trap. Family suddenly sees you as an always available babysitter. A parent asks you to be their full time shuttle to medical appointments, shopping trips, and bingo night at church. Every volunteer bone in your body urges you to fill your newly blank day with a two hour shift here, a weekend schedule there, and a board position with an organization you can barely spell. 

Or, instead, you bemoan your sudden lack of relevance and involvement. Work friends quickly drop away. The projects around the house feel like make-do work. You have a noticeable drop in energy and drive. You may blame that on age; in reality it is feeling a lack of purpose.

I won’t rehash all your options to get out of the over-volunteer situation, or the ways to break away from feeling like you lost your identity after leaving work, There are nearly twelve years worth of posts here that can help you.

But, what I will say is you must embrace a leap of faith…making a choice right now, to open your arms to something, anything, that pushes you forward. Importantly, whatever you decide to do isn’t going to be the final answer, the perfect choice. If life is change, then retirement is life facing a revolving door with unlimited exists.

 What are you waiting for…being wrong? Did you ever make a mistakes in all the years you were working? Did you ever commit a stupid blunder (or two, or three) with a loved one? Remember that 1976 AMC Gremlin car in orange you really wanted? What about that tie-died coat? 

You survived all those “mistakes.” You are here, alive, and reading this post. The worst that could happen…didn’t. 

Now is the time to consider a leap of faith, a jump into freedom, a step into the unknown as simply one of the benefits of living a satisfying retirement.

You can do this. You must do it to prove to yourself that you have unlimited potential and boundless opportunities straight ahead. 

You just have to jump over that little boulder in your path. Have faith!