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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Contemplating Retirement

Contemplating Retirement
The very first day I contemplated retirement was when I completed my very first day of work (my first full 12 hour day).  Farm work doesn’t punch a clock from 8 to 5.  Back when I started at 12 years of age and the time clock was solar (sun-up to sun-down).  We would get a 30 minute lunch break, not paid for, and no breaks before or after lunch.  The only breaks we got were of the forced type (forced by the call of nature).  I went home from work at the end of the day, I had driven a Ford Ferguson Tractor all day long, pulling a flatbed trailer while three college young men loaded bales of hay on it. After the trailer was filled to capacity plus I would drive them over to where the bales of hay were stacked for year round use.  The farm had so much cattle that all the hay was strictly for in house use.  Sometimes the rancher would even purchase additional hay to make it through the year.  I remember getting done at the end of the day and I was so tired, that I would often go to sleep without eating dinner.  Enough reminiscing about the good old days (and they truly were).
At some point I started loving work so much that I had difficulty stopping at the end of a day to go home.  Back in the day 100% effort was expected from everyone, but to add a 10% extra made you shine very bright and opportunities for advancement almost always followed.  Many of my friends complained that management required more than a 40 hour week.  They were right, but with my work ethic, once I reached mid-management level in the corporate world, the long hours coupled with appropriate wage was like a fine tuned V-8 engine hitting on all cylinders.
I didn’t realize it growing up but learning about life and the struggles that often come along for the ride, made my life much easier.  I learned how to work hard and stand out amongst my co-workers.  Thanks to lessons learned growing up, I’ve lived within my means or below all my life, never cared to keep up with the neighbors, and home has always been the basis of my comfort.
Many workers spend their lives dreaming about the retirement, but the reality does not always meet the fantasy. There are pros and cons to retirement, both in terms of finances and in terms of lifestyle. Understanding the possible negative consequences of calling it a career can help you make a better transition from the role of worker to the role of new retiree.  Keeping busy for the sake of sanity can be as important as adjusting to your new finances.
Time is a precious commodity, and one that retirees have in abundance. Without the responsibilities and stresses of a job, retirees are free to visit their children and grandchildren whenever they want. Retirees can also travel as much as their hearts desire or their budgets allow.  Making the right choices for you and your new lifestyle is where it’s at.  You may have to experiment until you get used to the idea that you no longer have to punch a clock,
I was lucky to retire early thanks to advice from my best friend, and I tried different things before settling to what feels good and fulfills me.  I’ll just say that my new lifestyle has a little bit of everything in it.  This post was prompted by the fact that my best friend’s wife just retired, and I got to thinking of how I was affected, and how I wish them the best in their new found freedom!  The best is yet to come…..

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