If one more person tells me how to celebrate my retirement I may have to hurt someone! Seriously people, it’s my retirement so why does everyone else keep projecting their wants onto me and telling me I should take everyone in the department out for drinks, have the entire department out for lunch, have a retirement tea or a big party at a hotel? Pardon?!?!
I suppose they mean well since they want me to celebrate the event but they just can’t seem to wrap their heads around the fact I’m not a big party kind of guy. I’m more of a low key celebration type of guy and as such I’ve already decided my retirement celebrations will be modest. There will be no epic party, huge guest list or flashy celebration. I will not be inviting the media to attend.
Instead, what I actually have planned this next week is just two events. The first is I’m going out to lunch with my immediate work group of eight people at a restaurant a block away. One last lunch with my co-workers to celebrate with those that I work the most with. I actually have no desire to have the entire department come as it may come to a shock to some people but I don’t like everyone that is in my department so I would rather not have them there.
The second event is also low key. Just dinner at home with my wife and sons. I will even be cooking that supper because I want to eat an old favorite recipe, pepper steak, that I haven’t made in years. Then afterwards I’m going to open the 18 year scotch that I bought for this event and have a drink of a liquid that is older than my engineering career. That’s all folks. Like I said, modest celebrations.
Why? Because that is what I want. You personally might like a big party with lots of people, a big meal out, a nice trip or a grand party hosted at a hotel. Any of those are fine. The trick here is to know yourself and what you want and make that clear to the other people involved on what you will be doing.
It’s your retirement so celebrate it the way you want and don’t feel guilty for knowing what that is and being firm with other people around you. There is no right way to celebrate a milestone, just instead your way. So channel your inner dictator and feel free to tell others to piss off if you have to, but at least try to be nice about it to start with.
So how did you or would you celebrate your retirement?
Once you give your notice to leave work often one of two things can happen: you can be asked to complete a long list of items before you leave or everything you are working on is taken away from you immediately and you are left being bored until you leave. The second can be referred to being a dead man/woman walking.
In my case, I really disliked the idea of being part of the walking dead. I’ve never really been good at doing nothing and in fact I’ve been know to leave jobs that have long stretches of having nothing to do. So I will admit, I had a plan to account for this situation should it come up.
You see I had a discussion with my boss a long while ago about the need to document my current responsibilities prior to leaving. So we added a project to my work plan to do just that and for the last year or so I’ve been steadily working away at developing support documents so someone else can do my job. While I had most of those done prior to giving notice I still have one major piece that I have barely started. I did that on purpose. Why? Because the project doesn’t depend on anyone else. I have a lot of freedom on how this gets done and it is important for the company that it get completed prior to me leaving. Hence it is really unlikely I will run out of work to do prior to leaving and that can save me from starting out the window wondering why I’m here (more so than normal ;0 ).
Also in my case, it appears my work would love me to keep plugging away at a series of tasks until the last minute. So in short, while I planned to not be the walking dead, it won’t be an issue for me anyway. Oh well, I rather have a plan that I don’t need rather than be bored at work.
So have you ever been part of the walking dead? What did you do about it?
Detox. Now there is word with a lot of different meanings. For a drug addict it means a lot of pain to give up their drug of choice. For the health nut it means cleaning out the toxins from your body. Then for the early retiree, detox means getting all those side effects related to your job out of your system.
If you read enough blogs and forums on early retirement the detox phase is typically the three to twelve months after you initially leave work where you adjust to your new life of freedom from your old work life. The theory is your work life has usually left in with an excess amount of built up stress in your life and you need to learn how to relax again so you can find out who you really are before turning to building a new life without work.
In my case, I’m a bit different since I’ve been reducing my stress at work for years already with staying out of upper management jobs and keeping very clear boundaries between my work and home lives. I already spend most of my weekend not even thinking about work so I would say I have a health distance to it. Also I’ve been asking myself the question: who am I, for years now. So I’m fairly familiar with myself. I know what I like, what I don’t like and what I just don’t care about. So in short I don’t expect a very long detox period for myself. In fact, I’m only planning on giving myself around three months or so as my detox period.
Yes, I know that is short, but like I mentioned I don’t expect I will have as much as an adjustment as some others. Yet to be fair I’ve developed some rough ‘rules’ to help guide me to my new found freedom.
- No Long Term Commitments – This might be obvious but let’s state it for the record. I will not get a fun job or commit to a multiple year term as a volunteer for my detox period. This does not prevent me from doing fun things, but I should avoid adding to my life until I work out my post work looks like.
- Leave the House Once a Week – This might seem odd until you realize I could very easily become a hermit and never leave my house for weeks on end. Give me a stack of books, Netflix and a pile of computer games and I might not go anywhere for a month. So to avoid that fate and to give my wife some time of her own I plan to do something outside the house at least once a week. It may be just writing in a coffee shop for a few hours or seeing a movie by myself, but the point is to see the world outside my house.
- I Don’t Have to Be Productive – This one is going to be a bit hard for me to adjust. I’m a ‘to do list’ type person so learning not to be productive every second of every day is going to be difficult. For example, I can manage about three hours on a beach before I feel the need to do something else. So to meet in the middle on this I’m going to do something every day, but that something could be a quick a five minute task like paying my Visa bill. That way my mind thinks I’ve been productive if it is was only in a tiny way. The point is to learn how to take a day or two off and realize the world won’t end if I am relaxing for a while.
Then I have one last item on my list. After my initial detox period I plan to review how things are going. How do I feel about my new life? What do I want to do more of? What do I want to do less of? And of course, I will give myself permission to extend the detox period if I want. The point is to get used to my new found life of freedom until I feel like I want to go explore the world again and get involved in new things.
So follow early retirees, how long was your detox period? Did you have any ‘rules’ for that period? What did you enjoy most about your detox? And for everyone else, any other suggestions or insights into the detox period that you have read about and want to share?