One Thursday morning I was sat in my favourite chair reading the morning news. Sun streamed through the window, my coffee was just right, bacon sarnie ready to rock’n’roll… and no work to go to. Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it. A glorious morning, and an enviable one for the millions on their way to work. Who wouldn’t want to kick their feet up and shun responsibility?
Having thought I was ready to retire, it turned out that I absolutely hated it
Well the answer, apparently, is me. I didn’t want to. Having thought I was ready to retire, and looking forward to living the life of Riley, lounging about, it turned out that I absolutely hated it.
I had spent every morning of the past two months doing in effect the exact same thing, and I was starting to cry with boredom. There’s only so much to do about the house, and less still on your own. I was — and brace yourself for this— desperate to get back to work.
Before you write me off as some kind of delirious madman hear me out. I’ve been fortunate enough to have enjoyed the career I made for myself; I got on well with my colleagues, the work was fulfilling, and every day kept me engaged. I do plan to travel, yes. Isn’t that the Holy Grail for retirement? But I’m a widower and it’s less appealing on my own. As are all the other fun things like going for lunch, the theatre and doing stuff around the house. I don’t even like golf. Never have.
NOT OVER THE HILL
As much as I’m reluctant to admit it, I’m at what most would call ‘retirement age’. That point where as far as society is concerned, you’re getting on a bit and should probably slow down. The thing is, I have discovered I neither want nor need to slow down.
My health is in remarkably in good standing (I knew all those long lunches in the eighties were good for me!), and apart from the expected aches and pains I’m coping just fine. So the usual health related reasons for retirement are off the table.
I wasn’t prepared for quite how useless not working made me feel
Actually I retired so I could ‘enjoy’ a change in lifestyle. Lots of my friends are retired and they love it, and I thought I would too. I wasn’t prepared for quite how useless not working made me feel. My friends are making the most of their time — they have the freedom to do whatever they want — within reason of course. Nobody’s gone skydiving yet, but it could well be on the cards. With friends retiring left and right, I thought I might be ready for it too.
NOT READY FOR IT YET
So maybe I haven’t given it a good crack of the whip yet, but my couple of months have demonstrated that retirement really isn’t making me happy. I’ve worked for 50 odd years, and I miss it. I feel like if I don’t do something about it quickly, I’m going to go mad in less than another couple of months.
I think the thing that makes me want to keep working most is the satisfaction it gives me. As an older person in my profession (I’m a doctor) I’ve got years of experience and a real depth of knowledge, and I enjoyed being the person my younger colleagues came to for advice. I like feeling useful. Not only that, I still get the same buzz from the job that I always have, so why did I give it up?
When really is the right time to retire? Is it now when I’m still in good health, or when I might be forced to
Another benefit of not quitting of course, is that it earns me a bit more money. I’ve planned pretty carefully, and I’ve earned good money throughout my career, but a few more quid in the bank will mean an extra trip abroad here or there, more money I can spend on the grandchildren, or my favourite extravagance, becoming a regular shopper at Fortnums. And when I have that mid-to-late life crisis that I’m fully planning, I can afford a proper flashy sports car — a garish red for full clichéd effect, naturally. Or maybe an extra shiny Harley Davidson.
I kid – a bit. But the big R-word looms over most people my age, and I think for a lot of us it can be a bit daunting. When really is the right time to retire? Is it now when I’m still in good health, or when I might be forced to in the future?
It’s obviously a massive decision to make, with pros and cons for both sides. If you aren’t as keen on your job like me it’s probably a little easier, but I’m sure there’s plenty of people out there in a similar position to myself. I know I’m really lucky – I am able to work as well as willing – and have a job that will take me back.
Having spent so many years building my career, it’s hard to think that I’ll have to leave it behind someday (for a second time). But as long as I have the energy in me to keep it up, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’ve gone back to my practice and made arrangements to work part time, and may even find myself practicing full time again. And I’m so relieved, I can’t tell you.
I’ll trade my suit for a dressing gown and slippers some other time. It’s not time for me yet.
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