Since I am looking at this first year of retirement as a science experiment, I harken back to high school science where we were required to write up our experiments using a prescribed format. Now this is bringing back bad memories as I passed chemistry by the skin of my teeth, and only due to the patience and competence of my lab partner Charmaine (who went on to be an RN I later heard). But pushing qualms aside in the name of good scientific discipline:
Experiment Name: Betsy’s Early Retirement
- To finish clean-up projects around the house that have been kicked down the road for too many years;
- To learn how to “do” retirement happily; and
- To discover rewarding activities that feed me physically, spiritually and emotionally (and perhaps financially).
- To avoid driving my husband OR myself crazy, OR finding myself right back on the “busy” hamster (or guinea pig to keep the science imagery going) wheel doing pointless stupid activities that provide no satisfaction or compensation for my time, which would be even worse than my old job (at least I used to get paid)
Hypotheses: By the end of the year, my lack of a specific or well-thought-out plan for retirement or any detectable notable skills or hobbies will propel me to:
- Get involved in one or more volunteer, non-profit or part-time work activities that will get me out of the house and provide social interaction and an outlet for my energy but provide enough flexibility to do trips and travel; OR
- Stumble across some presently unknown skill or hobby which will prove all-consuming and will lead me to become, for example, the next Barefoot Contessa (cooking) or Patty Sheehan (golf) or finally win the Valley Beautiful award for our house (gardening); OR
- Beg for my corporate job back after we spend all of our money and/or drive each other crazy.
Equipment: I will be heavily relying on my support system: my husband, son, and therapist, our financial advisor, my friends, my church community, Rick Steves, the Laughing Chicks (you know who you are) and my Book Club. I will also be tapping into our Wine Club stash as a resource.
Procedure: I set up a short framework or “To Do List” for myself this year that I intend to complete:
- Visit Paris for the first time with my husband (a life-long dream!)
- Clean out the garage and a storage shed (the much-deferred clean-up projects that will be painful and God-awful but liberating to complete)
- Inventory my deceased parents’ belongings (in said garage and storage shed), work out with my brothers what to keep and what goes to who, and get rid of the rest
- Pack up the parental items for my brothers in our new SUV and…..
- Do a Route 66 driving trip with my husband (another life-long dream) to deliver the goods (first stop…St Louis!)
- Determine what our next big trip will be and when
- Rest and recover from the corporate world!
Beyond that, I will go with the flow, open myself up to new experiences, not make any commitments for a year and purposely let things evolve. Stay tuned for observations and results! (Now you see why I wasn’t so good at Chemistry…..I usually had no earthly idea what was going to happen in our experiments.)