We can’t know for sure what’s ahead in retirement any more than we know about our career when we take our first job. We might start out with a plan, but life happens, and before we know it, we can find ourselves in the midst of something entirely different.
The surprises might come right away, when the reality of retirement doesn’t match up with our dreams. They may come later, after we think we’ve got it all figured out . . . only to find we don’t. By definition, we can’t know what surprises are in store for us.
Here are a few surprises …. have you experienced others?
A child moves back home. No one’s surprised if a son or daughter returns home after graduating from university. The surprise comes when for example, a single, 32-year-old son loses his highly paid job in the city, can no longer pay his rent, and moves back in with his parents. Hopefully they find another job and then off they go on their own again, but this could take some time so be prepared and don’t make it too comfortable for them… unless of course you really do want them to stay.
Where are we living now? A close friend of mine told me he always figured he’d retire to Spain. He and his wife spent several years visiting various parts, until one weekend they stayed with some friends in North Wales. They fell in love with area and before the weekend was over, they’d put down a deposit on a new house. Now, two years later, they love it . . . but even they are still surprised they ended up in Wales instead of Spain.
The doctor calls. It is probable that we will all get a nasty medical surprise at some point. You may have had an active lifestyle in your younger days and have visions of this continuing into retirement. But the arthritis in your knees and ankles may make you rethink this. Many people are taken aback when they discover they have to limit their activities or take medication for the rest of their lives.
Are we going to work? A lot of people plan to take a part-time job after they retire, then are surprised to find out the workforce is not clambering for 65-year olds. Working at the local DIY store isn’t everyone’s idea of a dream job, and whilst some of us may be suited to a consultancy role in our chosen profession, that is not for everyone. The other ideal is to work whether it is paid or otherwise in a sector that interests you. Volunteer at your local theatre group or independent cinema or a charity.
One of my neighbour’s volunteers to look after hearing dogs (dogs for deaf people) for one or 2 weeks at a time whilst their trainer takes a break. This means that he gets to exercise and look after the very well-trained dogs but without any long-term commitment.
Money doesn’t matter as much. Although I find that retirement is a great leveller. Most of us expect to live on a reduced income, some savings and maybe a pension. Our income is stable. We’re not pushing for a pay rise or promotion. The pressure is off. So, a lot of people are surprised that success in retirement is less about how big our house is, or what car we drive, and more about having fun, hanging out with a good crowd, and leaving a legacy for friends and family.
We can deal with all the change. I know it’s sounds stupid, but it’s a surprise to me that after retirement, life goes on — meaning things continue to change. We move; we have grandchildren; our kids do something unexpectedly different. We have different friends, perhaps different interests. We realise we can cope with a lot of change and adapt to new developments. Yes, some of us are surprised that we can do this!