Remembering Anticipation

Robert C. Atchley, an expert on retirement, aging and spirituality, has described retirement as a transitional process consisting of distinct phases. The phases of retirement that have been identified by Atchley and others provide a framework for thinking about the process of retirement and understanding the transitional nature of retirement.

The phases of retirement are not a precise roadmap. Not everyone’s retirement is exactly the same, and we each face unique circumstances and bring with us different aspirations and personalities. It is little wonder, then, that the phases of retirement are not an inevitable and immutable progression. For some people, one or more of the phases may be abbreviated or experienced in combination with other phases. For other people, each of the phases may resonate with their own experience, and they may perceive that their retirement evolves through distinct stages.

What I care about, of course, is my own retirement experience. I want to experience retirement as I live it and not analyze it as an academic exercise to see if I got it “right.” My writings in the next chapter will provide a running commentary, which my readers may find to be thought-provoking or somehow useful in their own lives—or simply a few minutes of free entertainment.

I owe a mention to Kathy Merlino, who blogs at Kathy’s Retirement Blog. Until reading her blog, I had never heard of Robert Atchley or his six phases of retirement. Thanks, Kathy.

Atchley called the first phase “pre-retirement.” In some of his writings, he subdivided the pre-retirement phase into a “remote” phase and a “near” phase. The pre-retirement phase is all about anticipation. It may be remote anticipation when one understands that such a thing as “retirement” exists but yet it is a far-off thing more abstract than real.

When retirement becomes “near,” thoughts about retirement take on a greater sense of reality. During the near anticipation phase, you realize that retirement is something that could really happen for you and something that perhaps you should prepare for in some way. The anticipated reality of future retirement becomes an influencing factor in decisions about work and career, family relationships, money and budgeting, personal health and habits, and even where to live.

Looking back to the time before I retired, I remember that at some point I realized that I could envision myself as retired. At that moment, I accepted the concept of being a retired person. For me, that was the transition from the “remote” phase to the “near” phase of pre-retirement. I did not keep notes, so I do not know exactly when this occurred, but it seems that it was about five years before my eventual retirement date. I was not ready then to decide when I would retire, but I began to persuade myself that I probably would retire sometime.

I suppose that I had all kinds of thoughts associated with my anticipation of retirement, but I had two major concerns. Could I afford to retire? And, what would I do in retirement? In retrospect, I was able to answer the first question. More or less.

Affording retirement is a big deal, and it is certainly something that those in the pre-retirement phase of retirement should spend some quality time thinking seriously about. There are many ways of going about deciding if you can afford to retire. There are, of course, financial planning professionals who make their own living by helping people with this. There are resources on the Internet that can help. Indeed, “retirement planning” has largely become synonymous with financial planning for retirement.

One tool that I found useful in trying to figure out whether I could afford to retire was the “Ballpark Estimate” that has been developed by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. The calculator is simple to use and provides one method to calculate the financial resources needed for retirement. The website is rich with other ideas and resources to help people handle money better. It is not the only financial planning website out there, and I do not know if it is even the best, but it is one that I came across and found useful when I began to anticipate retirement in a serious way.

Calculating what you need and putting together a savings plan for retirement is never an exact science. In reality, you may never know for sure whether you can afford to retire until after you have left your job and it is too late to save up for retirement. There will be unforeseen expenses, and you cannot predict how many years your retirement will last. I was able to make a pretty good guess about what I would need for monthly expenses and unforeseeable contingencies. I did not try for certainty, but I was able to achieve a level of financial confidence, and I knew that I did not want to work forever. In other words, I felt confident that I was financially “ready” to retire.

Retirement is more than a financial decision. Once I focused on a possible retirement date, a process of disengagement from work was set in motion. The anticipation of retirement influenced how I felt about work. My career had entered the endgame. I imagined the end of a career and the beginning of…what?

The answer remained elusive. I did not know what I wanted to do, and even after setting a retirement date and watching that date march closer, I was unable to formulate a good answer.

Other people have no trouble knowing what they want to do in retirement. Many people, it seems, approach retirement with lots of plans to do lots of things. Travel seems to be a popular activity plan for retirement. Some people are already active in volunteer work before they retire, and they look at retirement as an opportunity to intensify these activities. Some people have longed to learn a new skill or devote more of their time to a favorite hobby. Many have prepared a “bucket list” of things they want to do or places they want to go, before they kick it.

In contrast to all these other people who seem to have a good notion of what they want to do in retirement, I have been a slacker. I have neither booked my cruise nor filled my bucket. To confess, I am just making it up as I go along. Do not follow my example.

My retirement date arrived and the question of what I would do in retirement remained unanswered. I have since embraced the idea that the lack of a plan might be a good thing. This could be delusional, I admit. On the other hand, if I had delayed retirement until I could say for sure what my plan was, I would probably still be working.

Maybe I was driven by my curiosity about what retirement would be, but I felt it was time for a decisive exit from the career merry-go-round. Retirement was an opportunity that I seized without fully knowing the consequences. In a way, the anticipation never ends.

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Jubilación No Planificada

The English version of this post is Unplanned Retirement. The Spanish translation is my own and may contain errors. I invite native speakers of the language to comment on my errors and to suggest corrections. Aquí está una traducción en español de Unplanned Retirement.

Cuándo mencioné mi jubilación inminente, un amigo jubilado me aconsejó —Asegurarte que tienes un plan—. La razón por qué esto es importante, él confió a mí, fue así que no me gustaría terminan de pasar mis días en retiro sentado en mi ropa interior viendo la televisión.

Pareció estar buen consejo. Teniendo un plan podría proveer dirección y estructura a mi vida jubilada y me salvar de aburrimiento. Le dí algún pensamiento. A pesar de bueno intenciones, sin embargo, fue difícil a desarrollar un plan, y al día de mi jubilación, aún me encontré sin plan.

Antes de mi fecha de jubilación, la jornada laboral se formaba la estructura de mi día-a-día vida. Dentro de la jornada laboral, me volvía diestro en manejo de tiempo. Ciertas cosas tenía que hacerse por un tiempo determinado y de un cierto orden. Eso requería planificando de un typo, pero estaba en real tiempo. Mis prioridades estuvieron establecido en reacción a las demandas del trabajo, y esas demandas no estuvieron siempre predecibles. Yo tenía que estar flexible. Planes cambian. Yo era bastante bueno en ello.

Mi carrera resultó ser satisfactorio y exitoso, pero viendo detrás en ello, no tenía un plan de carrera. Pasé por dos major transiciones de carrera durante de curso de mi vida de trabajar. El tipo de trabajo que empecé haciendo después de graduar de la universidad no fue el tipo de trabajo que terminé haciendo tres decadas más tarde. Me imagino que mi vida de trabajo habría sido lejos de menos interesante si yo hubiera seguido un carrera plan esquematizado por adelantado.

Planificando financial para jubilación fue otra buena idea que no logré a bastante completar antes de me jubilé. Sin embargo, mi esposa y yo parecemos estar en un lugar bastante bueno económicamente. Esto es en gran parte debido a cuidadosa administración de dinero durante los cuarenta años pasados. Estamos donde estamos a pesar de teniendo no plan o un plan vago en el mejor.

Nosotros no calculamos nuestras fechas de jubilación por usando un jubilación calculador. Financial reglas generales no nos dijeron cuando estuvimos listos para jubilación. Los numeros lo que yo enchufé en varios jubilación calculadores me dieron una idea general de qué necesitaríamos para sostenernos cada mes, pero el numero no dirigió nuestras decisiones sobre cuándo jubilarnos. Siempre yo pensaba que había demasiados variabiles y no manera a estar cierto de qué el futuro traería. Los mejores planes radican en conjecturas.

Mi jubilación está sucediendo ahora, y aún no tengo un plan. A veces, me siento un ausencia de dirección y estructura en mi vida y me siento un poco mareado. Lo que es peor, a veces me siento que cosas son un poco aburrido. No obstante, no obsesiono sobre la falta de un plan para jubilación, porque no soy obsesivo por naturaleza.

La naturaleza de la persona puede que sea la llave al asunto entero. Cuando llegó mi fecha de jubilación, mi naturaleza no cambió repentinamente. Antes de jubilación, me gustó el independiente, administración-de-tiempo aspecto de mi trabajo porque me daba mucha libertad para decider lo que yo iba a hacer cada día. La libertad para diseñar mi día mantenía el trabajo siendo interesante, y era un fuente de trabajo satisfacción.

No me preocupo tanto sobre aburrimiento en jubilación. Después de todo, me aburría de vez en cuando antes me jubilé. Nunca ha vuelto una condición permanente.

Yo me jubilé sin un plan. No he conseguido un plan hasta ahora, y ya no más tengo un plan para hacer un plan. Mi perspectiva en la sabiduría de planificando mi jubilación ha empezado a moverse.

Una jubilación no planificada me da la libertad para diseña cada día como viene, y para apreciar sorpresas. Estoy aprendiendo a traducir el independiente, administración-de-tiempo habilidades que me sirvió tanto bien en mi carrera en administración-de-tiempo habilidades que va a servirme bien en jubilación. Encontrar mi camino por las colinas y valles de jubilación sin hoja de ruta podría resultar estar tan interesante y agradable como era mi carrera.  Estoy sólo segura de una cosa: yo no planifico a sentarse todo el día en mi ropa interior viendo la televisión.

Pido disculpas a hablantes de español por adelantado por esos errores que estoy seguro a hacer. Espero que cualquier hablantes de español quien van a leer mis traducciones me permitirán saber sobre mis errores y van a sugerir enmiendas.

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