I remember well the initial plans for retirement that were developed over time and put into practice fourteen months ago. Facing the prospect of this significant life change, I did what most folks facing this transition do:  We vetted and picked a financial planner.  We sorted through all the options and settled on someone who specialized in working with retirees. One does not have to do that, but that was our direction.  Little did I know that this would be one of the more accessible and straightforward decisions that would come our way.  Regardless of personal circumstances, you have the money you have, little, tiny, constrained, with pensions or without.  Once you determine your number, you must work your budget around the number.  The numbers are the numbers.  I am not saying the financial aspect is easy, but it is much easier to grasp as you look at the facts or reality of your situation.

Things that have had to be reassessed or reevaluated.

  • Work    I enjoyed the work that I was doing.  Like everything, it had its moments.  There were times I grew tired and weary. Overall I loved what I did.  Work and that environment had been such an integral part of my life, and not working seemed that it would be a tonic; I never really thought through all that work had provided for me.  Everyone’s situation is unique.  The church has been a massive part of my life, back to the youth group and my teenage friends.  I attended a Christian College, and my social and spiritual life centered around the church.  After graduation, I pastored or worked for the denomination for over forty years. My social connections and workplace were drawn from the same pond.
  • Place  We thought by moving to the place where we had a home and spent a lot of our holiday and vacation time, we would be home once we retired and moved there permanently.  There is a significant difference between vacationing somewhere and living there!
  • Friends  Moving to a new place not only signified change but challenges as well.  Those who retire and stay in the same community do not experience starting over with making new friends.  There are people in our new town that I knew before, so we did not start at zero.  Without work and familiar surroundings, one must be intentional about locating and making friends.
  • Continue working or going back to work.  I returned 81 days into retirement and served as an interim District Superintendent in Wisconsin.  I worked remotely and made trips from my home to Wisconsin.  I did not plan on going back, but it was something I could do to help a friend, as well as the church.  Interestingly many do go back to work as a consultant or part-time employee.  Some do take full-time positions as well.  Some do so for financial reasons, others for something to do or to find a purpose.

Regardless of how you plan to spend your retirement, there will be many to offer advice.  Unfortunately, at times the advice can sound like ultimatums!  If you do not do it this way, you are wrong, etc.  I have had people challenge my use of the word “retirement.”  I have been told that the concept of retirement is not found in the Bible, and you must not give in and live a life of leisure.    My advice is free, and that is what it is worth.  Seek input, listen to others, and read extensively; you and your spouse or family decide what works best for you.  There is not one size that fits all.   Do what seems best to you.  Pray, learn, explore, experiment, and be prepared to make adjustments along the way.

Susanne and I have made a few adjustments, and we are only fourteen months into this season of our life.   I can confidently tell you this: It will be okay as you face this season in your life!  Let me be bold: it is going to be fantastic!

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