Unbelievably, I’ve been retired for an entire quarter already. Since I’ve positioned Year One of retirement as scientific experimentation (which warrants some level of rigor) AND old corporate habits die hard, I feel compelled to give myself a post-retirement quarterly review. Dusting off the old performance review templates from memory banks (and causing myself stress just thinking about it) here goes:
On a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = bad/you suck, 5 = excellent/good job):
(1) Progress toward stated Year One goals:
Paris trip – 5
Rest/recuperation – 4 (points off for jet lag)
Have fun – 5
Clean-up projects around the house – 2
Clean-up projects in garage – Q2 – AFTER HOUSE
Route 66 driving trip – Q3 – AFTER HOUSE AND GARAGE
Observations: Q1 was dominated by R&R, travel and fun. I was primarily a big goof-off, which fit my objectives perfectly. After catching up on sleep the first two weeks, the majority of waking hours was spent planning and executing our fabulous Paris trip, two reunion weekends (my law school and my husband’s high school) and then three additional trips to Annapolis and one trip to San Jose for Navy football games. We managed to attend all five Navy home games AND the Navy–SJSU game (resulting in all W’s which should bump me up to a 5+ rating on some scale). Out of curiosity, I tallied days home v. days away and we were clearly away more than home, almost twice as much September through November. Which is a perfect excuse for why I didn’t get more done at home.
I did start working on home cleanup projects in between trips. I managed to make my way through 2 ½ rooms (including closets), as part of Operation Purge, which entails sorting, tossing and trips to Goodwill. After the holidays, our travel will slow down and Operation Purge will swing into high gear.
Flexibility – I’ve really enjoyed the flexibility. It’s fun to do things spontaneously and go places, like restaurants or the mall or movies, during off-hours and avoid crowds. When planning trips we can go an extra day or two or (what the heck!) week to take advantage of lower fares or less traffic.
Free time – my free time is now truly free. In the past, I rarely had a vacation where there was no BlackBerry to check, no email to return, no conference call THAT I JUST HAD TO dial into. I can really relax and be present and enjoy myself. On several of our fall trips to Annapolis for football games, we booked extra days and explored the area – we visited small towns we’d never seen, museums we’d never discovered, scenic drives we’d never taken. With free time, the world becomes an oyster!
Less stress – See two points above. Friends have commented (with no prodding on my part) that I look physically younger, happier and more relaxed. I sleep better and my energy level is higher. I didn’t realize how much stress I was under until I was away from the job for a while.
Time with hubby – I was worried (as was my husband!) that too much together time might lead to unpleasant consequences, such as one of us killing the other. It has been an adjustment (mostly with our home routine that I have disrupted). However, for the most part it has surprisingly been a non-issue. In fact, we are really enjoying doing things together, especially the travel. I am thankful my husband is an available partner in my retirement activities. If he was still working, I don’t think it would be nearly as enjoyable.
Travel – something I loved about my job was the travel. I relished staying in hotels, visiting new places and exploring cities. However, I often didn’t have time to do much sightseeing when I was working. Although I was perfectly happy traveling solo, expeditions with a partner are much more rewarding. Now, we can go to those bucket list places and do those bucket list things we’ve always talked about, and at our own pace. I was gratified that our inaugural trip to Paris was a success and gave us the confidence and incentive to do more big trips.
An office – it may sound silly, but I do miss having my own office. When I was working, I shared our home office with my husband. But there’s something important about having your own space. Even in retirement, there are things to do – bills to be paid, appointments to be scheduled, events and travel to be planned, etc. I am, for the time being, using my laptop and cellphone in our den as my office. But I have no desk or desk chair or file cabinets (or IT department or administrative assistant or receptionist, but I need to get over that). For now it is working fine, but at some point I would like to set up my own home office space (maybe in my son’s room once he graduates college but don’t tell him yet).
Time management – after being constantly under the gun in the corporate world for the past 25 years, it’s difficult to approach a To Do list with anything other than a fanatic urge to finish as quickly as possible. I find myself with that old familiar stress when I still have (horrors!) unchecked items on my list, even if they are things like “Look for Ribbon for the suitcases at Jo-Ann Fabrics” or “Sort Magazines on the Coffee Table.” The other trap is that I am often unsure of what day of the week it is (forget ever knowing the date) and sometimes I have to think hard about what month it is. Without the structure of work, it is easy to lose track of time. I know I have more time now, but the days seem to just fly by. How did I ever have time for a job?
Lack of routine – since Q1 was all about travel, I haven’t really settled into a “normal” routine. I still feel like I’m on an extended vacation. In Q2, once our travel abates and I start working around the house, I would expect a more normal (or less abnormal?) daily rhythm to develop.
Post-retirement activities – somewhat related to the previous points, I have purposely not made any decisions about how I will spend my time after this first year and have in fact turned down several offers. It has not yet become clear to me how I would like to spend the bulk of my future time in retirement. I know that, in addition to our travel, I would like to get involved in ongoing “work,” whether that be volunteer, part-time or non-profit, that will be meaningful to me. As much fun as I’m having with my life of merriment, I can already sense a need for some “greater good” purpose to be significantly reflected in my activities. I also miss the camaraderie of co-workers and the sense of pride that comes with team/organizational accomplishments. Once I have my major home projects under control, I will embark on a more focused search.
(4) 360 feedback:
For purposes of this review, I asked my sole “co-worker” (my husband) for feedback on how my retirement is going thus far. His response was “You’re doing fine.” Okay, then! Whether that answer stemmed from an understandable fear of the repercussions of saying anything negative or from extreme laziness in answering one stupid question, (hey I was in the same boat for 25 years, I know the game!) or was, in fact, an accurate assessment (albeit somewhat sparse), I can’t say for sure. I will therefore interpret his response as akin to the proverbial “Pleasure to have in class” comment I always received from my teachers in grade school and leave it at that.
(5) Overall rating:
That’s the other beauty of retirement. I’m now the boss and I can rate myself whatever I want!