Hi! 👋 I’m Jessa.

I blog daily about life, work, and the future.

What happens at retirement?

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There are days when you simply feel extra tired. Then you wonder, “What would it feel like when I retire?”

Thinking about it, I can recall how my mother responded to her looming retirement. Such concerns like pension and future daily activities daunted her that I marveled about all the fuss.

That would be me decades from now.

And even if I am still starting out in life, preparation for retirement isn’t new for me. However, I only thought about it at a passing. Why? Because pressing concerns like where would I be in the next five years is more urgent than getting my retirement.

If you are a working professional, most of your days are occupied by doing your work and upskilling yourself with the tools to help you at work. All these deadlines are filling up your schedule day and night.

But after all this work, and you’ve become the person you hoped to be, who would you be when you retire?

From I Spent 44 Years Studying Retirement. Then I Retired.:

Retirees overwhelmingly report that the great prize of retirement is freedom from daily obligations. “No more schedules, my time is my own.”

Still, I (Dr. Ekerdt*) assumed when I retired, I would continue to be the me I’ve known for decades—the one with the go-go gear in my mind, always needing to move on to the next thing on my to-do list. I must read this, learn that, keep tabs on who’s who, and never overlook any chance to compete for research-project funding.

Instead, I’ve somewhat effortlessly and unconsciously downshifted from the self-imposed drive that was part of building a career. With retirement, that level of professional engagement has wound down and I can relax today, free of self-inflicted urgency about what’s next.

*Dr. Ekerdt is a former professor of sociology and gerontology at the University of Kansas in Lawrence and author of “Downsizing: Confronting Our Possessions in Later Life.” (From I spent 44 Years Studying Retirement. Then I Retired. Wall Street Journal.)

Like other major transitions we go through in life, retirement is also a phase we need to get over. And what I like about what Dr. Ekerdt said is this:

From I Spent 44 Years Studying Retirement. Then I Retired.:

What is clear now is that I have arrived at a place that is further than I had imagined from the worker that I was, from the setting where I worked, and from the younger man that I had been. I have arrived only to embark.

Perhaps, we can only prepare so much for a future we are yet to arrive.

P.S.: If you are going through life transitions, I highly recommend Life is in The Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Change by Bruce Feiler. But if you don’t have time to read the whole book, here’s the book notes I prepared just for you. Enjoy!

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