Sometimes you have to just say it like it is:
“MEN THINK RETIREMENT IS EASY.”
Men often feel ready to sprint when their bank statements and 401K reviews radiate, ‘It’s all good. Bring it on.’ Women think differently. Years before retirement they’ve already started on a list of new goals and meaningful activities, ever multi-tasking.
Out of curiosity I decided to do my own research. I randomly gathered a panel of six recently retired men and asked them to share their experiences. I asked one simple question:
“What major piece of advice can you share regarding Retirement?”
Here’s what they said:
1 - BILL GREENBERG (A name partner in a big, prestigious law firm):
Ok, I’ll go first. When I’m asked about myself, I always try to be honest. I don’t promise something and then disappoint. I couldn’t stand people who would sound so cooperative about appearing in court and they’d take the 5th.
So, here’s my answer: As I got closer to retirement, all I could think of was those cool retirement commercials on TV – Buy a boat! Own a second home! Send the grandkids to college! Those were my goals.
I was fine the first six months; I even bought a boat. Then I got sunburned, and I started missing what I used to do – even dealing with those annoying people who take the 5th! I know I’m more than a’ used to be.’
MY ADVICE: Don’t let work be your identity. Remember, it’s not what you are retiring FROM; it’s what you are retiring TO. Plan Ahead.
(That’s my favorite saying!)
2 - JIM ROSEN (award-winning journalist for more than 30 years)
Hi. I’ve met a lot of people in my long and interesting career - sports figures, entrepreneurs, business leaders, and everyday Joes and Janes. I wrote about them, and they felt like friends.
My co-workers and I partnered on stories, laughed, and joked around. They added to the fun job. I thought I had plenty of friends. Then I retired.
When I retired, all those people didn’t have time for me anymore. I never thought of friends in categories. But there it was - all my friends were ‘work’ friends.
I needed ‘retirement’ friends. I’ve finally figured out some things I like and could do, and I’ve found some good guys to spend time with. But I ended up wasting a lot of time!
MY ADVICE: While you are working, think about what you really enjoy spending time on. Find people with like interests and get to know them. They will be there to welcome you when you retire. I wish I had.
(Everyone needs connection and socialization – especially in retirement!)
I turned to…
3 - JOHN BERKOWITZ– (worked in Human Resources for many years)
I have to admit when you asked me to take part in this panel, I didn’t want to join. I hate looking weak and admitting my struggle. Then I realized that maybe my experience can help others, so I was in.
Retirement for me was not Heaven. In fact, it was the other H place, It took me a few months but I finally did something to change things.
MY ADVICE: Look around and reach out to happy retired people you know. Find out how they handled retirement and got so comfortable. Talk with coaches or mentors to help you navigate the future. It doesn’t show weakness. In fact, it’s smart.
(This brought smiles – I like a man who can show his vulnerability!)
4 - ERIC CHASTAIN – (spent the last eight years as a C-suite executive)
I’ve been retired 18 months, and all I can say is payback is brutal. I’m proud of my career record, and I know it was my focus and dedication that helped me reach the levels I did.
But since I’ve retired, I’ve been to the doctor at least four times for different aches and pains. Some might say it’s because I’m not busy enough. Others said I should lose weight. The basic truth is that when I was working, I ignored my health.
I did not take time to either stay home and rest or go for my annual checkup. I knew they need me at the office, and I had no time to take care of me. Geez, that was dumb.
MY ADVICE: DO NOT IGNORE YOUR HEALTH. Go to the gym or go for a walk/run in your neighborhood. Eat right and get sleep. Find time for that colonoscopy and checkup. Sounds obvious, I know. I ignored it - make sure you don’t.
(Yes, that’s smart.)
5 - TOM SANDERS– (an engineer for a power company for 30 years)
A few years ago, I took on the role of ‘lead engineer,’ I thought it was cool. I added three evenings a week to my schedule, but I made more money and enjoyed it.
I’d get home after 7:00, and my supportive wife made sure dinner was ready and kids were taken care of. We had a good life. Six months ago, at 70, I finally retired.
Boy, did I get a surprise! When I was working, my wife made all our social, outreach, and volunteer plans. I never asked her vision of life when I retired.
Now that I’m home, she goes off to meetings and lunches and volunteer gigs, and I sit around wondering what to do. Yesterday she said to me, “I married you for better and for worse, but not every day for lunch!”
MY ADVICE: Talk about Retirement with your partner. Listen and understand what each of you envisions, and then make your plans.
6 - TED NOLAN– (well-known realtor in town)
I’ve just retired – as in 10 months ago. My plans included ‘doing nothing!’
I can read when I want and maybe watch a few new shows on Netflix. Spontaneity sounded so good. Let me just say, I thought this whole Retirement thing would be easy –It’s not.
MY ADVICE: Don’t sit around in Retirement waiting to be inspired. How you spend the next 25-30 years is up to you.
Retirement is not the finish line
it’s the start … OF SOMETHING NEW.
With that, our discussion ended.