I began my working life more than 40 years ago with a fresh diploma and a tankful of energy and enthusiasm. When I glimpsed the end of my working life from that vantage point, it was nothing more than a vague concept — a smudge on the distant horizon. There was no time to think about retirement when decades of exciting work were calling my name. The time between fresh diploma and the present has been dotted with interesting challenges, unexpected twists and turns, plenty of laughter, and two very satisfying careers. Neither profession has been perfect, but each has challenged and stretched me in positive but unexpected ways, bringing wonderful blessings and amazing people into my life.
Suddenly, decades have passed and retirement is directly ahead of me, a third journey unavoidably calling my name. On the one hand, I’m already enjoying some of the benefits of being older: “senior discounts” are a pleasant perk at more and more places. I definitely sense – and very much appreciate — the extra kindness and consideration I’m receiving as an older person who uses a cane to get around.
Still, the unknown parts of retirement years can be a very unnerving prospect if imagination is allowed to drift in that direction: Can I still be happy and feel fulfilled when I no longer have a young man’s strength and energy? Should I push myself harder to do without various physical accommodations, or is it wiser to embrace the use of them? How will the quality of my life change as the years pass? Will I still be able to do the things I love – or even manage the necessities of independent living – as my body and mind grow older?
These questions are very real, but I can’t let them frighten me. I want to embrace retirement as I did each of my careers—as another adventure containing new opportunities, surprises, and blessings. My task is to remember that helpful resources are available to me, look for the good things ahead, and travel the road of retirement with determination, enthusiasm, and creativity.
I don’t want to miss any of the good things that are waiting for me!
Guest Blogger: Alan Flynn