retire happy: the joys of a well-planned retirement
by Norma Jackson Goldman
To find out more about the Free Will Baptist Board of Retirement, call (877) 767-7738
Retirement hopes and dreams usually push us to make important retirement decisions, and then put those decisions on paper, formulating a written plan. Essential decisions include: how many years remain until retirement, present rate of saving, where you will live, sources of income, if you plan to be debt-free at retirement, unique factors impacting retirement spending (such as elderly parents, dependent children or health issues) and the anticipated cost of living.
Once those decisions are made, and a plan for attaining goals is established, it is simply a matter of executing the plan from that point forward. Yet, in counseling friends who are nearing retirement, we frequently discover a missing ingredient in their planning—one that can make a huge difference as they begin this exciting new season of life.
A Transition Plan
That missing ingredient is a transition plan. How will you go from a daily routine of work with its urgent time constraints and demands, to a more relaxed, less structured way of living? The more pressure-filled your work life is today, the more intensely you may react to abrupt changes. Those in jobs of spiritual leadership, authority and/or responsibility may experience temporary feelings of anxiety or disorientation. When work becomes so much a part of personal identity, the absence of a profession creates a sense of unimportance or even irrelevance.
Transitions at Home
If both husband and wife work outside the home, such feelings can be exaggerated. Observing this phenomenon in friends, some couples determine that they will stagger retirement, allowing each other space and time to adjust. For the wife who is a full-time homemaker, having her husband present 24/7 presents a whole new set of adjustments for her as well! My adult Bible study class shared some hilarious stories of adjustment to retirement, and a favorite involves a builder who regarded every day of retirement as a Saturday. He awoke with excitement daily, asking his wife, “Honey, where shall we go today?” After several weeks of “Saturdays,” his wife responded, “I don’t know where you’re going, but I’m going upstairs to sew!” His only recourse was to remodel every part of the house that could be remodeled before he found a daily structure and part-time work that suited his personality! They are now experiencing joy in retirement, each following pursuits that fit them as individuals.
A Transition of Work
Some ideas for a successful transition include decisions about new outlets for creativity, skills, and passions. Many retirees find their job skills or previous experiences allow them to contribute meaningfully to their denomination, as a volunteer. Temporary assistance often allows the church to expand its ministry in places like Vacation Bible School, after-school programs, adult education, hospital and prayer ministries. Some churches offer car maintenance and repair to widows and single moms using the skill base of retirees. Tens of thousands volunteer to tutor in the public school system. The point is this: we Christians are stewards of all our resources, and our time and giftedness don’t get nearly as much attention as financial resources. Retirement offers new and exciting opportunities to use both time and giftedness, giving back to the Lord as an expression of gratitude.
Transition to a Slower Pace
Planning a major vacation to a new or much-loved destination can provide a means of breaking the work-routine, allowing the retiree to de-stress, unwind, and get mentally prepared for a new season of life. Having a plan, looking forward to next steps, and making positive contributions to the causes and institutions most dear to us minimizes tension and emotional reactions to the changes brought about by retirement.
Pray that God will help you prepare mentally and physically as a prelude to this new season and that you will find not only fulfillment but true joy in retirement.
About the Writer: Former magazine editor Norma Goldman enjoys a free-lance writing career in her retirement. She lives in Nashville, TN.