I walked to my car searching for the right words to describe the celebration. My coworker couldn’t have been happier. He had a smile that spread from one side of his face to the other. I couldn’t blame him for beaming. After more than twenty-some years with my company, he was retiring. A large group of his friends and coworkers had gotten together to wish him well.
Two weeks later, I attended a second retirement celebration for another friend. We had worked together at another company a number of years ago. We had lost track of each of other when I had moved on, but had reconnected in recent years. The celebration this time around was a more intimate lunch to match his personality. The common denominator for both retirees: their smiles.
They couldn’t have been more content and relaxed. They both looked like the weight of the world had been lifted off their shoulders.
I’m years away from retirement, probably a good fifteen years, maybe even more, give-or-take a few years, but it’s gotten me thinking about how I want to spend my retirement years. I would love to cruise in my yacht around Monte Carlo or spend intimate dinners in Paris or even fly in my own personal jet across the U.S., but that’s probably not in the cards.
I still though have some very specific thoughts on how I want to spend my post-working years. While I love my career, I can say without any hesitancy that I have no plans to work right until the Good Lord comes knocking on my door.
In short, I want to have a plan.
My retirement wish list
I most certainly want to enjoy my retirement years. Here’s a few of my ideas:
–I want to spend my retirement with friends and family. (Of course, if they’ll have me.)
–I want to spend my retirement volunteering and keeping busy doing the things I love. I want to write. I want to run, hike and enjoy nature.
–I want to spend my retirement doing what I want to do and when I want to do it. I want to take college classes, teach, travel to places I’ve never been, and a million other things that have popped up in my head at various points in my life.
–I want to try new things. I want to read books I’ve never had time to read. Yes, my dreams are across the board, everything from surprising my wife by finally agreeing to take a ballroom dancing classes, taking a hot air balloon ride, learning to surf, to hunting for big game deer in Maine or Montana.
–I want to spend my retirement stress-free. I worry too much as it is. When I finally walk away from the daily grind, I want to look forward to each day with joy and excitement. It’s a goal of mine everyday, but certainly in retirement.
And in light of the recent snowstorms in the Northeast, I want to spend retirement enjoying snow days and not worrying about having to brave the elements to drive into work or work from home. If I want to act like a kid and go sled riding, I want to go sledding.
Many different factors — not the least of which include health and financial factors — come into play in making my paper dreams become a reality.
In the end, though, I simply want to spend my retirement, no matter what I’m doing, with loved ones and a smile on my face.